Channeling Steve Jobs – An Entrepreneurship Lesson

By Mark Macias

I frequently come across old stories I wrote for different publications. This morning I read a story I wrote for an entrepreneurial magazine after Steve Jobs died. As one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, we can all learn from his vision, execution and tenacity.

Here’s a shorter vision of that story I wrote on Steve Jobs shortly after his death – in my attempt to become a better entrepreneur.

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I think I know what Steve Jobs would say about all of this news coverage.

“Write something different. Obituaries are for dead people.”

When I write, I want to learn. I want readers to walk away with something they didn’t know, but how does a writer accomplish that when every news outlet on the planet is covering the Steve Jobs death in the same way.

Here’s how I would cover this story if I were still a journalist with NBC or CBS. I would try to channel Steve Jobs.

I never met Steve Jobs nor do I claim to know his thoughts, but I do promise these quotes are directly from Steve Jobs’ mouth. Their analysis – however – is from me, which means only time will reveal if these insights are true for you. For now, go along with the journey.

Steve Jobs: “I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started?…What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
 
Mark Macias: Every entrepreneur, journalist, and businessman wants to be creative, but few know how to achieve it. Steve Jobs is the inventor of creativity, so let’s take his advice. Creativity is about losing yourself. When I was an Executive Producer with WNBC, I learned that power is an aphrodisiac and once you taste it, you never want anything else. That’s fine if you can sustain the habit, but fame and power are both fleeting. Sooner or later, it will escape your grip. Steve Jobs learned something at an early age that every person in power fears: Power constricts your creativity because you are so focused on the act of maintaining control. Creativity and control are juxtaposed. They don’t work together. As a man who gained and lost power, I can tell you when a person loses power, his ability to think becomes clearer and as your mind becomes clearer, the spirit of creativity is manifested.

Steve Jobs: “When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation…On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself.”

Mark Macias: So many of my friends worry about losing their jobs and it’s an understandable fear. But rather than fret about the unknown, let’s apply Steve Jobs’ advice – “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” When we are hungry and foolish, we have nothing to lose and that’s how entrepreneurs succeed. When we have nothing to lose, we will take the gamble because we know inside, there is no place to go but up. When you’re hungry, you work harder to find food. When you’re foolish, fear disappears. The only thing I fear – right now – is the day when I lose this foolish fear of hunger pains.

Steve Jobs: “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new…Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Mark Macias: Steve Jobs left behind a fortune worth billions of dollars. He could have done anything he wanted or traveled anywhere, met any person. Luckily, he grasped the big picture of life and that is, in my analysis: Life is just the first act, and as soon as you realize that, it suddenly gets fun. You don’t worry what people say or believe and as a businessman, journalist, or entrepreneur — you don’t follow others. My Dad always told me to create my own path. I didn’t understand that as a nine-year-old. I thought he was trying to tell me to get lost in his own polite way. Now, as an adult, I think he was telling me what Steve Jobs told us: Have the courage to follow your heart.

Macias PR was named the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. The firm was founded by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Macias is a weekly contributor with CNBC.com and author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, which has been featured in the NY Times, Fox Business, NY Post and others. Macias PR has run media campaigns for tech startups, financial groups, service providers, nonprofits and politicians.

PR Mistakes when Speaking with Journalists

By Mark Macias

I had a conversation last night with a former colleague at CBS. We started talking about life in journalism vs life in PR when our conversation steered towards the biggest PR mistakes publicists make when speaking with journalists.

Clients frequently ask me to make these mistakes, but I try to explain to them why this approach will hurt us. These mistakes might seem rational to you, but lots of times, logic has nothing to do with journalism.

Regardless of whether you are trying to get publicity for a tech startup, mobile app or established business, here are 4-tips that your publicist should never make when speaking with reporters.

Biggest PR Mistakes that Rookie Publicists Make

1) They ask you to hangout – As an Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York, publicists were always asking me out for drinks. While it’s a nice gesture, do you really want to hang out with someone you don’t know? A better approach is to organize an event at a place where they normally can’t get into and explain why it’s in their best interest to meet. Last year, a client from Canada was in New York for a TV appearance. I invited a few targeted reporters to the ultra private Soho House to meet this client and discuss some of the trends in that industry. I knew these reporters all wanted to experience the Soho House, but they couldn’t get in. This was our Ace card. We ended up getting some long face time and story pitches to influential reporters with several major NYC newspapers and online publications.

2) They call your phone – In smaller markets, this is more acceptable, but in the larger markets – no publicist should cold call a reporter. They hate it. So how do you get them on the phone and pitch your story? Here’s my approach. Send them a quick email. Tease them with the story, and ask them if you can set up a quick call with them over the phone. If you are effective with your tease, every smart and visionary reporter will bite.

3) When is the story running? – I understand why every client wants to know this but the inside scoop is usually the reporter doesn’t know. It’s up to the Executive Producer (in TV) or editor (in print) to decide when it runs. And just because it is scheduled to run, that doesn’t mean it will run. Sometimes, stories are delayed for editorial, timing or pure space reasons. Instead of nagging the reporter, keep a close eye on when their stories run. If you don’t see them in the paper, or on TV, shoot them a short email and ask them if they have any idea when the story will run. It gives them a safe out to say – “I don’t know yet.” And if they do have an idea, they will tell you.

4) Can we see the story in advance? – This is one of the quickest ways to alienate reporters. Journalists are very independent people, and you never want to give the appearance that you are bossing them around, or driving their coverage. As a former journalist – and now owner of a PR firm – I sometimes go into my leadership role. But I can’t do that with reporters – and neither can you. It’s their job. Not your job, so don’t try to lead their coverage.

Macias PR was named the 2015 top “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. The firm was founded by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Macias is a weekly contributor with CNBC.com and author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, which has been featured in the NY Times, Fox Business, NY Post and others. Macias PR has run media campaigns for tech startups, financial groups, service providers, nonprofits and politicians.

 

Crisis PR in Politics

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CNBC has asked me to give weekly analysis on the presidential candidates – from a media and PR perspective. I wrote a piece this week on Donald Trump and if feedback is any reflection, he really ignites passion from both sides. I’ve already given media strategy and analysis on the other candidates, but they didn’t ignite the comments, tweets and even emails that this article ignited. Click here to read my CNBC analysis. As always, I try to make it relevant for business owners.

PR Creativity Begins Underground

By Mark Macias

“Creativity at its deepest level begins underground.

I posted that impromptu quote on Facebook several years ago during a vacation in a foreign country at an underground club. I just realized that quote is not a shallow status update inspired by spirits. It’s actually a principal that applies to public relations – or for that matter with business.

But let’s focus on why that quote applies to PR and how it can help your tech startup or business build a brand on the web.

Public relations and journalism are similar in that creative ideas drive the coverage. In the morning news meetings, the person with the best story idea is always driving the conversation. I became an Executive Producer with NBC in New York at a young age – not because of my experience, but because of my creative ideas. And when I hired freelance producers at NBC in New York, I chose creativity over experience when everything else was equal.

That’s because creativity drives all news story ideas. Experience or great sources don’t really inspire great ideas. I could argue they actually inspire complacency since a person is rarely pushed outside of his comfort zone.

But not everyone sees it that way.

Earlier this week, a person told me he only wanted to work with a PR firm that has experience in the pharmaceutical industry. It didn’t matter that my PR firm has delivered prominent news stories for major health care clients. I respect that decision because he knows his business better than I do.

But I do know the business of PR and if I were looking to hire the best PR firm in NYC, I wouldn’t hire a PR firm based on experience or their contacts. I would hire the most creative PR firm in NYC.

That’s because creative ideas drive all news stories, which is why this is now my new favorite quote of the week: “Creativity at its deepest level begins underground.

Macias PR was named the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. The firm was founded by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Macias is a weekly contributor with CNBC.com and author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, which has been featured in the NY Times, Fox Business, NY Post and others. Macias PR has run media campaigns for tech startups, financial groups, service providers, nonprofits and politicians.

How to Sell Your Story to the Media

Macias PR - How to sell your storyBy Mark Macias

Identifying a great narrative is the most important element behind any successful media campaign, but selling your story to the media can’t be overlooked.

You can have the best idea, but if you sell it the wrong way, your story will never be pitched in any morning news meeting. More relevant, you typically only get one chance to make a first impression in business, and in journalism, it lasts only a few seconds.

During my time as an Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York, tech startups, business owners and publicists pitched me all kinds of stories on topics ranging from consumer tech to medical, health to features.

At the same time, I had to pitch stories on a daily basis to a room full of jaded, experienced journalists who had heard every news idea possible. It’s very hard to reinvent the wheel or spin a square idea with that group.

So how do you sell a story idea to journalists?

Don’t try to tell any reporter that this is a great story, or revolutionary or why everyone loves your product or service. They will read right through it. Instead, take an objective approach and back it up with words that aren’t opinionated.

For example, take a look at that truck in the photo above. It has a story just like you and I have a story to tell. What has that truck seen, or why is it still running years after others have failed? How did it accumulate that rust? What are the stories that took place inside of that truck? Any scandalous cross-country ventures that took place inside the cabin?

That is how you sell a story to the media. And please, don’t use those words or phrases that are on the left box. Every journalist hears those phrases several times a day, so that is the quickest way to get your story rejected before it is even pitched.

Macias PR was named the 2015 top “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. The firm was founded by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Macias is a weekly contributor with CNBC.com and author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, which has been featured in the NY Times, Fox Business, NY Post and others. Macias PR has run media campaigns for tech startups, financial groups, service providers, nonprofits and politicians.

UnGoogle Yourself – Push Negative News off the Web

By Mark Macias

It’s easy to Google yourself, but it’s much harder to UnGoogle yourself.

What can you do when the search engines start information that is unflattering – or worse – not true? Is it possible to get it removed?

A few years ago, I was approached by an established financial consultant who discovered Google was leading people to a false article that falsely accused him of ethical violations. These types of allegations can destroy any person’s business but in the financial industry, it can close your practice overnight.

For months, the financial consultant hired an attorney who tried unsuccessfully to get the article pulled down.

Then, he reached out to MaciasPR.

UnGoogle Yourself

This form of crisis communications will only grow in the future as more bloggers and news organizations post articles on the Internet. It will also become more rampant as younger and more inexperienced journalists are hired by the larger news organizations.

If you find a negative news story appearing on the web, there are several steps you can take to get the material removed from the Internet.

Contrary to the popular saying, “the Internet is written in ink,” it is possible to change the story if you apply some proven crisis communications strategies. Here are some of the strategies I learned during my career as an Investigative Producer with NBC, CBS and American Journal that will help you in these situations.

Understand the Difference between Libelous, Slander and Opinion

If a blogger writes that you smell, you can’t take legal action to bring down a story, but if he writes a factually inaccurate article that accuses you of wrongdoing and harms your business, you do have a legal right to bring down story. And you don’t always need an attorney for this. Sometimes a strongly worded letter that outlines the bullet points from above is enough to get the publisher’s attention.

You need to complain to the people who control the money. Your letter to these power brokers needs to state why this article is inaccurate and most important, how the article has financially harmed your business. If you can’t show any financial duress from the article, you won’t succeed in the court of law or with the publisher.

Go after the Power Brokers

When a negative story is published, most people, like the financial consultant, contact the writer to complain, but that’s like complaining to the sales clerk when the cashier gives you the wrong change.

We were able to get that negative story pulled down on the financial consultant because we went after the power brokers – the parent company of the company and explained how their story was inaccurate. No publisher will pull down a negative story that is accurate, but if you can prove that the story in inaccurate or libelous, you will succeed in getting it corrected.

Push the Article off the first Google Page with New Content.

Another strategy you can take to bury a negative article is through new content. That means write more content on that same topic that will ultimately lower the ranking of the negative news story. If the article is false and inaccurate, don’t be afraid to fight back. Just make sure you’re not picking a fight over someone’s opinion because luckily the First Amendment still protects us from that. Want to learn more? Click here to watch a TV news story where Mark Macias gives CBS in Phoenix advice on how to UnGoogle yourself.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

 

Friends in High Places (Media)

By Mark Macias

Everyone wants to help a friend and members of the media are no different.

If you’re cozy with certain journalists, you might get a call returned faster or your story idea forwarded to the right person.

I spent over a decade working side-by-side with journalists at NBC and CBS, but you don’t need to be inside the media to curry favor. You can also develop relationships by seeking outside interests.

Look for Networking Opportunites

First off, you need to be genuine about what I’m going to say. Journalists are smart and can read through a fake quickly so if this is not something you’re interested in, don’t show up for the sake of meeting media people. However, if you do love these types of networking events, they can easily work to your advantage.

Affinity organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Asian Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists provide many personal opportunities to network with journalists.

Those summer conferences allow journalists to socialize and network together while their nighttime events are filled with booze and parties. You don’t need to hold a press card to attend one of these conferences. If you pay the fees, you are welcomed inside.

Many cities also have their own local media mixers.

When I worked for a TV station in Phoenix, I belonged to an organization called the Arizona Latino Media Association or ALMA. The group frequently held social events at bars and restaurants where Hispanic journalists and PR executives mingled. Mediabistro also hosts networking events where journalists hang out together.

Just don’t be fake with your agenda. If you are there to network with people – or even to sell your business – be transparent because no one wants to hang out with the guy who is holding a secret. And don’t forget, these professionals are paid to uncover secrets, so you won’t last very long if you take that approach.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

Buying Journalists Gifts?

By Mark Macias

It’s a written rule and code of ethics in journalism that you can’t accept gifts in exchange for stories, but that doesn’t stop publicists from trying to secure media coverage through freebies.

When I was with NBC and CBS in New York, I was always invited to “free” press screenings for shows and concerts. Restaurants, lounges and bars also sent me private VIP invitations to their openings. Even our Special Projects unit  received unsolicited gifts from publicists to try out their products.

But is this an effective approach?

Here’s the inside media scoop on gift giving to journalists.

Every newsroom has a table full of toys, makeup, books and other products that are sent to reporters and producers.

I am of the belief that it’s a waste of money to send free samples to reporters because it will inevitably end up in the hands of a person who has no influence on whether that story will run.

As an Executive Producer with WNBC – overseeing the consumer and medical units – I can’t even recall the number of times I went to my work mailbox and saw a package or box with my name on it. Most of the times, I had no use for the make-up or toy or other product that was shipped to me.

But this doesn’t mean you should completely ignore a version of this strategy. You can still offer up a sample for the news organization to try, but be selective with it and most important – make sure you offer it to the right news contact.

And most important, don’t ever project that you are expecting something in return because that is the quickest way to get your story killed.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

Your Image with Crisis PR

By Mark Macias

It’s not what you say, but you do that is remembered by others, yet surprisingly few people remember this during a crisis situation.

Sociology studies show body language makes up 55 percent of our communications and when it’s replayed on TV, it becomes even more pronounced.

The former Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, seemed to forget this during his crisis that forced him out of office.

For those who don’t remember, he was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s old US Senate seat.

But the crisis visual got worse when the cameras were rolling and decided to go for a job, knowing full-well that the media wanted to ask him questions.

He put on his running shoes, left his home, and a throng of reporters pursued him while he ran away from them. He apparently didn’t think ahead into what this image would say to viewers watching the news.

Television needs a visual to support the story, otherwise it’s just radio.

TV reporters always new video to advance the day’s story.

Blagojevich gave reporters their new visual that kept him in the news cycle. In addition, he gave TV reporters video they could write to.

If you are ever ambushed by a reporter, don’t run from the camera or put your hand in front of it. That will only make you look guilty.

Instead, be polite the reporter and explain why you will speak with the reporter if he or she takes the time to call your office.

As a former investigative producer with American Journal, CBS and NBC, I can tell you reporters love the ambush interview because it makes for great TV. Viewers stay tuned when they see a clip showing a person running from the camera – and believe it or not, they like it when you push their camera away.

So next time you are in a crisis mode, don’t let your image take a back seat to kindness. The camera will thank you for it.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

How to Pitch a Story like a Journalist

By Mark Macias

It’s the one question every person wants to know. How does the media decide which news stories are important? Here’s how to pitch your story like a journalist.

When I was an Executive Producer with NBC in New York, many of my friends quizzed me on whether there was a conspiracy in the media. After all, they would ask, how could it be possible that all of the news organizations would typically run the same stories?

There is no conspiracy and there is no magic formula, however there are ingredients that do make for a news story.

If you want to get your business on the news, you need to first identify what is different, new or unique about your product or service. News is based on the root “new,” which is why all news stories must be timely.

How to Pitch a Story like a Journalist

The more you can make your pitch sound timely, the better chances you have of getting your business on the news.

You can increase your chances for news coverage by answering these questions before you reach out to reporters:

* What is different about my business?

* How does my business help the public and why is that service unique?

* Is there something timely about my business or product?

* Is there a personal story to tell about my business, like maybe a grandfather is passing the 75-year-old family business onto his grandchildren in a public ceremony?

* Is there a new trend arising in my business field that will affect the pocket books of consumers?

* Have any trade organizations recognized my business as a leader in innovation that will help shape the future?

Finding a unique angle is not as difficult as it may sound. You just need to open your mind to timely events that impact and influence sales of your product or service.

The more you understand the definition and value of “newsworthy” the better chance you will have of getting the media to do a story on your business.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR. The company also does financial PR – which you can read more at MarketYourFund.com.