Peter Shankman Does it with Pizza: How to Build a Professional Relationship

June 3, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

At the recent HUB Convene event, we had the opportunity to hear from Peter Shankman, a communications pro with a lot on his mind, especially about airlines and a certain car rental company. During his presentation, Peter discussed the importance of customer service on a company’s sales and marketing funnel, and the lack of customer service received from most of the companies we interact with on a daily basis. After asking an audience member why they praised a recent flight, and learning that it was because they were safely transported from point A to point B, Peter broke down society’s current standards for customer service: Getting what we pay for passes as the pinnacle of service today. For the consumer, this is terrible, but for organizations this presents a fantastic opportunity. If people’s expectations of customer service are so low, it shouldn’t take much to wow someone, making it very easy for smart organizations to create a positive and lasting impression.

shaking hands

Paying a friend a compliment or going out to lunch can strengthen ties and facilitate a year’s worth of inside jokes. Building a professional relationship is no different. It is the small, almost effortless, actions that can be the difference between meeting people’s expectations and completely redefining them. In today’s world of low customer expectations, it doesn’t take much to impress someone, so impress as often as possible.

Peter Shankman didn’t just preach relationship building; he described how he puts his plan into action. For Peter, going above and beyond in relationship building starts with pizza. After signing on a new client, he likes to drop by their offices unannounced with a surprise pizza lunch. This allows Peter and his clients to communicate and learn more about each other’s expectations and goals, ultimately resulting in better executed programming. What makes it special is that for Peter, it is not a required act, but rather done as a choice of goodwill.

Peter Shankman does it with pizzaThis is something we at Business Wire are keenly aware of – the impact building relationships has on the success of one’s PR program.

Media relations doesn’t have to be about throwing a pizza party but can be just as easy. One of the easiest ways to build awareness, and potentially coverage, of your company is to build relationships with key journalists and bloggers, before news is available to share, and after. If a journalist likes communicating with you, that can help you build a respectful, reciprocal relationship. With a personalized email or a tweet, you may end up surprising the very person you need to help amplify your message.

The digital age has made everything impersonal. We believe that we are building stronger, more personal ties with a person because we have access to their lives, their day-to-day activities and insight into their thought process. But in reality, access to information is not the same as building relationships.

Professional relationships can’t survive on the back burner. Here are some other steps that you can follow to make a new acquaintance in the media industry:

  • Be Neighborly – Allow reporters, bloggers, and other media access to learn more about your company or business. Inviting them to your facilities and providing access to both c-suite and ground level employees allows them to understand your company and your company’s vision. Let the people covering your story learn more about your organization’s story, beyond just the latest announcement.
  • Show Interest – A relationship is a two-way street so you should make sure to not only reach out when you need coverage, but also follow reporters on Twitter and other social media without the intention of pitching. They receive hundreds of pitches daily in their email box and don’t need the same clutter in their social media feed. @reply to comment on topics of interest, answer questions, engage in conversation and retweet articles when relevant to your followers.
  • Know Their Schedule – One of the best ways to stay on the media’s good side is to know the publication schedule of the person you are contacting. Knowing when a particular writer goes to print or has a deadline allows you to reach out at an appropriate and convenient time, as opposed to the night before their work is due.
  • Preferred Treatment – If you invite a journalist to an event, or even to your offices, reduce the friction associated with that visit. Providing transportation such as car service, a meal, a room to work out of while on site and more can make a lasting impression. Making someone feel special, without showboating, can go a long way.

Check out the following articles to learn more about building media relationships in 2015.


Nintendo Just Showed Us: The News Release is Having a Moment

May 22, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

Half a million views in a single day, and counting, is no easy feat. A news release from Nintendo this week accomplished just that, and every communications pro should take note of the basic reasons that led to such grand visibility.

Before the digital revolution, a hero was born by the name of Mario, and this hero had a nemesis named Bowser. Bowser started off as a Koopa King who breathed fire, but much has changed. On May 20th, 9am Eastern Time, Nintendo of America announced via a Business Wire distributed news release that Doug Bowser was named as the new Vice President of sales in America. Clearly the two Bowsers are not one and the same, but the irony was not lost on Golin, the PR agency handling Nintendo’s communication management. They identified and utilized the humorous angle that presented itself and converted it to visibility gold. Over 500,000 views, including over half a million views alone of just Doug Bowser’s photograph, is making this an industry defining news release.

Nintendo Bowser Infographic

Especially significant is that 60% of the traffic is stemming from social media. People are actively sharing this content, driving awareness through the roof. Doug Bowser is now a star and Nintendo can be seen almost everywhere online. The press release is having a moment right now, but why?

Journalists, media professionals, news consumers, they are all eager for interesting and relevant content. Golin found a way to satisfy their target market’s needs by understanding the basic elements of a release. What could have been a regular announcement about a new hire was instead turned into a story. The story was about the irony of a company hiring a man who shares his name with a notorious character the company is known for. The headline didn’t read Doug Bowser as New VP of Sales.

Doug Bowser, VP Sales, Nintendo of America

Doug Bowser, VP of Sales, Nintendo of America

The decision to omit Doug was a conscious one aimed at waking the reader up by tapping into their sense of humor. The announcement was professionally written but maintained a lightness, playing on the intended readers’ nostalgia and lingering interest. The release included multimedia, both Nintendo’s logo as well as a crisp headshot of Doug Bowser. Readers could see what a real life Bowser looks like, and they did, over half a million times.

Nintendo set a precedent with this release but it doesn’t mean other companies need to start developing video game characters then hiring employees with the same names. The lesson learned here is that every release has a story and the process of writing an announcement needs to start with identifying a story that can grab the reader’s attention. That story is your company’s story and if it connects with readers, it will be shared and reshared all over the internet.

If Bowser can be VP of sales at Nintendo, maybe Coca Cola can find a Draper to run creative.

The Nintendo release had significant coverage on mainstream media. Some examples include:

Click here to share the story how one personnel announcement went viral: http://ctt.ec/0r0GO

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The secrets behind press conferences, product reveals and trade show marketing

February 24, 2015

By Raschanda Hall, Director of Global Media Relations, Business Wire

Trade shows are all about product reveals, updates and, engaging media.  And by engagement I mean, “come ye media and tell the world of the things you have learned today.”  All meant to guide consumers into the conversion funnel, from awareness to action, faster and farther.  The Chicago Auto Show is no different.

Chicago Auto ShowMany exhibiting auto manufacturers will host exciting and sometimes theatrical and humorous press conferences geared toward glamming up the reveals and editorial coverage.

A successful press conference and product reveal is virtually a Hollywood production, and with sticker prices nearing $500,000, what you’ll hear from the communicators responsible for pulling off these events is that you have to nail the basics.

Birthing an automobile:
Preparation and planning are fundamental tenets of public relations. As the dust settles on one show, exhibitors are looking ahead at ideas for next year. According to Curt McAllister, Midwest public relations manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, “This is a little bit of Hollywood. Typically a press conference reveal [the birth of an automobile as he called it] may last all of 20-25 minutes and will probably range between half a million to a million dollars to produce. It’s the closest thing we get to Hollywood here in the auto industry. A lot of preparation is involved.  There is constant communication with our media to let them know we are going to do something big in that city so that they can save a spot on their schedules, and we can ensure a really good attendance.”

Authentic messages and messengers:
“Focus on what’s changed, what’s new, and why you did it,” says Andy Love, the head of car product marketing for Chrysler Group.  “Explain things in an easy-to-understand way.  If you have a new safety feature, help the audience relate with a story.  Explain how things matter and fulfill a need.  If it’s a high-end technology show, how it is easy to use and how it applies to their lives.”

Wendy Orthman is the Manager of the Midwest Region for Chrysler Group Communications.  She works with Chrysler

2015 Dodge Viper GTC

2015 Dodge Viper GTC

executives to get them ready to present on the big stage by first having them present at smaller shows.  “We want our executives at these shows. You want to make sure the speakers you choose have a high enough title that they attract the media. Their quotes bring authenticity and have significance and weight.  The sweet spot is when you have someone with title that can speak with knowledge and be impactful to the media.”

James Zahn, the pop culture and lifestyle blogger better known as The Rock Father, has seen his fair share of press conferences. “Excitement and Enthusiasm. It’s all about the two E’s. Don’t make us [journalists and bloggers] feel like you’re giving us the company line.  If a speaker sounds passionate about the business or product, that makes it more fun for us.”

Show up differently:

SpongeBob Inspired Toyotal Sienna

SpongeBob Inspired Toyotal Sienna

There is a lot of competition for news at these tradeshows and many of your competitors are also holding press conferences. You want to think of how you can show up differently.  Nissan of North America flipped the order of their press conference reveals. “A lot of other guys, they would do a slow build up and reveal the vehicle at the end. We do the opposite,” says Joe Gallant, Manager of Shows & Exhibits at Nissan.  “We keep the speeches short and we reveal the vehicle almost right away.”

The showbiz side of your product reveal means nothing if it doesn’t further your message. “There are very extravagant and flamboyant ways to pull a drape off a car. But don’t get over your budget, and be realistic. Make sure the message and the product is at the heart of it.  If you get so caught up in the smoke and mirrors you’re going to lose your audience,” warns McAllister.

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Don’t Eclipse Your News During the Lunar New Year – Why Sending News to China During the Spring Festival is a Bad Idea

February 18, 2015

Bio Pic 2

By Matt Allinson, Media Relations Manager – International Markets

China’s Lunar New Year is nigh (February 19), but the travel frenzy known as Chunyun (a 40-day period surrounding the Spring Festival) is well underway. It is a migration unlike any other, with an estimated 2.8 billion passenger trips undertaken between February 4 and March 15. Millions upon millions of people will be hurrying home to reunite with family and enjoy the holiday. It is said to be the largest annual migration in the world.

China

Chunyun travel in progress

With so many people concentrating on getting from one place to another, it stands to reason that not a lot of business gets done in the People’s Republic of China during this time of celebration. It also stands to reason that sending out a news release around the holiday is not a wise move – unless, of course, you’d rather people not see your news.

Shaun Bowers Interfax ChinaI had the opportunity to speak more about this with Shaun Bowers (pictured left), the Managing Director of Interfax News Services in China. He was kind enough to answer some questions I had, as well as some questions that are often put to me.

Q: Can you describe the impact Spring Festival travel has on not only the news distribution business, but all business in China?

A: It (business) almost stops. Family is at the very center of Chinese culture and this is the time of the year that workers all across China return to their home province to visit family. Often, it is the only time they will see their family during the entire year.

Starting in January, factories will stop taking orders because of the holiday and will be rushing to fill orders they have in hand. The distance workers have to travel means journeys can take days, so often workers will start traveling two weeks early … and it’s not uncommon for a factory to close for an entire month. So for most businesses, it is a quiet period … unless you are a food vendor near a train station or a retail clothing store (it is traditional to buy new clothes for the Spring Festival).

Q: A question I have received in the past is: Don’t the Chinese have the most cell phones (per capita) in the world? Wouldn’t they still be absorbing news on their devices during the holiday?

A: Perhaps you should ask them if they sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table and read the news. The Spring Festival is a time for celebration – the whole of China is on holiday and people are focused on fun and seeing old friends.

Q: To which western holiday would you compare the Lunar New Year? Or is there such a comparison?

A: It’s hard to compare … for Europe it would be Christmas, and for the U.S. I would say it’s like Thanksgiving … at Thanksgiving, people will do anything to get home. The U.S. has 330 million people and I’m sure readers can relate to what a nightmare travel can be during Thanksgiving. Now imagine adding another 900 million people, and you get a sense of what it’s like.

Q: What have been your personal observations and experiences with the Lunar New Year? Any crazy travel stories?

A: My wife’s family is from Hong Kong so we don’t have to travel, but it’s quite normal for us to sit down to dinner with 67 immediate family members … some of whom have traveled from all corners of the world. There is a saying in Hong Kong: “Don’t go on holiday as everyone you know will be on holiday, so stay in Hong Kong and enjoy the peace and quiet.”

yay-15943958-digital

According to Shaun, it’s not that people in China don’t read news during the holiday; it’s just not a top priority. Chinese New Year is the one time of year when all workers can return home and, in essence, MUST return home. It is important for them to do so and it is expected that they will return with gifts for the whole family. And in the end, what’s more important: being present with family or reading up on news about listed companies?

Shaun’s advice, and mine, is to hold off on sending any news to China between the 18th and 24th of February.

And I will take this opportunity to remind you that it’s a best practice to always make sure the country to which you’re trying to send news is not on a holiday.  A quick check of timeanddate.com, bankholidays.com, officeholidays.com, or any similar site can save you time, resources and headaches when sending news internationally.

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Applying 8 Modern Day Dating “Rules” to Public Relations

February 14, 2015

By Serena Ehrlich, Director, Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

https://openclipart.org/detail/192604/heartbleed-patch-needed-by-rejon-192604As Valentine’s Day approaches, we turned our thoughts to how news distribution actually resembles dating. In this piece from today’s PR Daily, Hannah Kelly from Business Wire Paris looks at eight modern dating “rules” and how they apply to news releases.

Click here to read Hannah’s 8 rules of dating and how they apply to PR in 2015:  http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Applying_8_modern_dating_rules_to_PR_18105.aspx


The Sweet 16: Business Wire’s Most Read, Viewed and Shared Content of 2014

December 16, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Content

Are You Ready for PR in 2015?  

As 2014 winds down, we at Business Wire are taking one last look backwards.  After all, there were some huge changes in 2014 that disrupted the way news content was showcased, distributed and adopted.

As we look towards a PR-friendly new year, we wanted to share the articles, videos and blog posts that your communication colleagues turned to this year so we can help you launch successful communications program in 2015!

How to write a press release:

The real reasons why your press releases need to include images:

Understanding media relations:

The role of measurement in PR

How Business Wire generates success for large and small companies alike [CASE STUDIES]

What are we missing?  What tips or tools do you plan on implementing in 2015?  Let us know in the comment box below.


7 things Every PR professional Must Know About Pinterest

December 8, 2014

Everywhere you look everyone is talking about Pinterest. And why not! Not only does the site have huge audience numbers, the engagement and inbound traffic rates are through the roof.  And yet, many PR professionals are unsure of how to maximize this platform to increase visibility, shares and coverage of company news.

Click here to read Alexander Solm’s  7 things about Pinterest you need to know.  We would love to have your thoughts on this piece; do you use Pinterest to promote your news and coverage yet?


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