Public Relations Podcasts

Our public relations podcasts in “The Strategic Minute” series help business leaders improve communications strategies and functions by sharing insights on specific topics within our firm’s areas of expertise: Public Relations, Media Relations, Employee Communications and Community Relations.

You can also subscribe to the Strategic Minute in iTunes. Just search for “Strategic Communications” or “Strategic Minute” under Podcasts.


Using a Holiday as Your News Hook

Lots of people in many organizations across the world try to find some connection between their organization and a holiday in order to get news coverage for their company, products or services.

The problem is, most of those people don’t dig deep to figure out a very specific, unique, interesting, valuable and – most of all – newsworthy angle for their “story.”

Just because it’s National Smile Day and you’re a dentist, that doesn’t mean you are automatically newsworthy all month – or at any point during the month. Just because it’s National Reading Week and you’re a bookstore… it’s America Saves Week and you’re a financial institution… it’s Black Friday and you’re a store or mall… You get the idea.

You need to dig deep, talk to a lot of people – inside and out of the organization – ask a lot of questions, and play Devil’s advocate for every story you think might be a good idea. That’s one of the main reasons why you should be thinking about spring and summer holidays in January, and winter holidays by June. (The other reason is that a lot of media plan their stories for big holidays and days of recognition well in advance – so you’ll need to pitch them early, too.)

Take American Heart Month, for example. Heart Month begins February 1st. We worked with one of the top 15 cardiovascular hospitals in the country four months in advance of Heart Month to go through process we described above. After a lot of ideas were cut from the list, we landed on something that would: (1) connect real people to something immediately actionable that would help them achieve better heart health, (2) in a way that only a hospital/doctor could advise, (3) that partnered with – and benefitted – a local non-profit to solve an additional community need beyond heart health, and (4) would definitely be of interest to the news.

We suggested that the hospital cover the adoption fees for all dogs at local animal shelters to encourage people to adopt a dog and get more active for better heart health, and the hospital’s cardiovascular doctors served as our spokespeople on-location at the shelters.

Not only did every local media outlet cover this story, but it was picked up by the Associated Press news team and covered all over the country. We then garnered even more news coverage later in the month when we provided updates on how many dogs had been adopted and shared the stories of people who adopted some of those dogs after seeing the first round of news stories.

It takes time. It takes effort. And it won’t be a home run every time. But just because a holiday sounds like it fits with your organization, doesn’t automatically make you newsworthy on that day. So take the time. Put in the effort. Because it WILL be worth it every time.

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What You Don’t Say is as Important as What You Do Say

Hey, do you know what time it is?

If you just looked at a clock and were prepared to tell me “It’s 8:30” or “It’s noon” or some other time, you’re probably just trying to be helpful. But that’s not always the best communications strategy.

When communicating in business situations – especially when what you’re saying is representing the entire organization – we must practice the following 3-step process: first, really listen to the question that’s being asked; next, answer ONLY the question that is asked; and then, stop talking.

So, the answer to my first question would be either: yes, or no. What I asked was “Do you know what time it is?” Even though you can probably safely assume that what I really want to know is the actual time, for many reasons, making me ask the follow up question “Ok, so what time is it?” can be beneficial for you.

This creates a dialogue. The person asking you the questions may have a brief reaction of frustration after that first response, but by the end of the conversation, they will notice how many of their questions you answered – because you gave them the opportunity to ask more questions.

If your response makes an assumption about what their question really means, or anticipates what other questions they might ask, then you take away their ability to feel like they were able to ask all their questions. And when they do think of other questions, you have no other information left to share.

In sensitive or crisis situations, this discipline is critical to managing your message and reputation, and keeping audiences calm, informed and supportive.

We also use this strategy with good news. Even if we know all the details of a “good news” story, we may not want to give everything away all at once. This allows you to create a steady drip of continued positive stories and engagement that will last far longer than if we shared all the good news details at one time.

There’s another risk to oversharing, as well: By providing more than what their question is asking, you may also be giving away information for which they didn’t even think ask. The danger here is probably obvious for a crisis or sensitive situation. But why would this be a bad thing if you’re sharing good news? By sharing more than you’ve been asked (and more than you planned to share), you are robbing yourself of future news to share with your audiences and cutting short the potential longevity of your story.

The next time you are preparing for an all-hands forum with employees, a media interview, or a town hall meeting with community members, remember to really listen to the questions that are being asked, answer ONLY the question that is asked, and then stop talking. What you don’t say can be as important as what you do say.

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Think Before You Speak

I’d rather miss the opportunity to say something because I took too long to speak up, than regret saying something before thinking about it. A lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Over and over again. Less frequently as I continue to practice this important discipline, but it still happens – to all of us.

We live in a society that moves so quickly, that has become increasingly “me” focused, and that has everyone so stressed, many of us “don’t have the time” (read: don’t TAKE the time) to be thoughtful about what we say, the context of our conversations, the perspectives of the other people involved, or the consequences.

My team and I teach the importance of taking the “Critical 10″ in media training… but this, and many other aspects of our media training, are equally as important to apply in every other part of our lives. Maybe even more so.

So, take a beat and think before you speak; in a professional setting, or socially; whether reacting, or simply blurting out whatever’s on your mind. Make this a New Year’s resolution. In fact, don’t wait until January 1st. Try this now, when work might get stressful or during the chaos (I mean fun…) of the holidays.

I promise it will make you a more effective communicator, a better leader, a more respected friend, and a happier person.

Crystal’s Life Principle #2: “The only thing we know for certain is that we don’t know everything.”

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