How to Motivate your Publicist – Tips to Get the Most from PR Teams

By Mark Macias

I recently wrote a column for Entrepreneur Magazine on the importance of getting your publicist on your side. The editors must have liked the editorial because they published it behind their paid wall.

You can read the column here, but if you don’t have a subscription, I’ll share a little more on how to get the most out of your publicist. It’s something I not only face daily with my own team, but also experience first-hand from clients who want the best PR campaigns for their brands.

Here’s an abridged version of my Entrepreneur column on how to get the most out of your publicist.

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Why Fear of Failure Destroys the Best PR Campaigns

              

By Mark Macias

Fear is an attitude that can never be associated with public relations. A creative media strategy requires confidence in an idea and strength with the execution.

The best publicists know they can’t be afraid of creative ideas when pitching reporters. The only thing more dangerous than fear? Complacency.

If your PR firm hasn’t succeeded recently with media outreach, it’s time to assess their level of fear. How far will they go to push your ideas and angles? Are they pushing stories that are already in the news, or are they conceptualizing new ideas that leading publications will want to follow?

Here’s a look at what separates the best PR firms from the agencies that never succeed.

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Forbes Analysis – Emerging Customer Behavioral Trends

Forbes recently reached out to me and 14 other entrepreneurs, asking for some insight on customer behavior trends. What are the big trends we anticipate this year?

There were some interesting predictions in the article, which you can read here. If you’re short on time, I’ll break down the trends that I think are most valuable in this article. I’ll start with my advice that I offered Forbes.

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Tech Publication Grit Daily Asks MACIAS PR for Advice for Startups

The popular tech publication, Grit Daily, recently turned to MACIAS PR for PR advice. Their editors said they wanted to help their readers, entrepreneurs and startups who were struggling to find the best PR agency for their business.

You can read that full Q&A here.

If you’re short on time, here are two questions that our founder, Mark Macias, answered about finding the best PR agency for your business.

What should you look for when hiring a publicist?

MARK MACIAS: I’ve found the best publicists have a deeper understanding of how the media works from the inside. They have an intuition that spots trends and news stories before others.

A great publicist also understands the nuances of the media – because messaging is always a subtle sell around news. Experienced editors and journalists can spot an advertisement within seconds of hearing a pitch, and if it remotely sounds like a commercial, they won’t run it. The best publicity campaigns are able to weave themselves into the news fabric or pop culture.

Intuition is another overlooked factor. Journalism is usually centered around human behavior. It’s about connecting the invisible dots around people to form a story. And that’s not reading tea leaves. Intuition is a component of behavioral science.

How much should a startup pay for PR?

MARK MACIAS: Prices and approaches vary by firm, but it helps to understand how the payment plan works. You can pay by the hour, by the media placement or under a retainer.

I’m a firm believer that nothing is free in life, so if a publicist claims you only pay if they make a placement, I’d ask a lot of questions. It costs time and money to generate organic (earned) media. And a press release does not fall under that definition. It takes time to write a successful pitch and find the right reporters, and resources to secure the story. If someone offers to do work for free, I would question their experience and PR understanding.

Paying a lawyer, consultant or publicist by the hour scares me. If a story isn’t catching on, it’s easy to add more time – and under this payment plan, hours add up quickly. Personally, I prefer retainers because the cost won’t fluctuate, even when unexpected issues arise. And if the firm or consultant is reputable or cares about your business, they will likely add extra hours to ensure they meet your expectations, regardless of what happens.

MACIAS PR has a free PR calculator to help you get a real idea of how much PR would cost for your business. Click here to go to that calculator.

Does Performance based PR work? MACIAS PR Forbes Analysis

By Mark Macias

Every once in a while, I’ll get a request from a potential client asking if my PR agency would work off a performance-based structure. 

It happened again recently and inspired this thought leadership article I wrote for Forbes.

In theory, a performance-based model sounds like a great idea. The client doesn’t pay for anything unless the PR agency succeeds. Of course, as most entrepreneurs learn, if any deal is too one-sided, you lose money.

I don’t think many entrepreneurs really understand the depth, strategy and resources required to run a successful media campaign that leads to earned media — and I’m not talking about a press release. I’m talking about a bonafide news story or feature in a publication that you read.

You can read my analysis in Forbes here. If you’re short on time, here’s an abridged version of my thoughts on performance based PR.

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Entrepreneur Editorial – How the Pandemic is Shaping PR

Entrepreneur Magazine just published my editorial that takes a deeper look at how the pandemic is shaping PR.

You can click on this link to read more on the story, but if you’re short on time, here’s a quick synopsis to help with your future publicity campaigns.

This thought leadership was inspired after I read a post in a private Facebook group with reporters and publicists where we exchange ideas. Someone asked if PR was dead.

PR has definitely evolved since I entered this industry after my career with NBC and CBS. But this last year has accelerated even more changes in PR.

It’s even harder today to navigate the media landscape. A lot of journalists lost their jobs because of COVID. In addition, the competition for eyeballs is getting tougher as more online news sites pop up. And we can’t dismiss the consumer market, which is getting more fragmented.

All of these headwinds make a targeted media and communications strategy even more critical.

Here’s a closer look at why I wrote that why experienced strategic thinkers will become even more valued, and more scarce in the coming years.

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Media Training – Common Mistakes with Reporters

Speaking with reporters requires a much different approach and style than holding a conversation with your friends. Your friends will be more generous with your time, allowing you to meander from thought-to-thought.

But it doesn’t work like that with the media. You need to be concise and tight on messaging. If you veer off from the story line, most reporters will tune out. And if you’re speaking with a TV producer or reporter, it’s even more paramount to stick to the script.

During my time as a producer for NBC and CBS, I had to listen and log many interviews that went off track. The subject veered to a different topic, taking double the amount of time as I listened to it in person and on tape. As I became more experienced, I brought the interview subject back to the story. But in today’s world of journalism – where reporters are younger and younger – you might not get the chance to get guidance from the producer.

I wrote a story for Forbes last year, outlining the 5 biggest mistakes I saw leaders make during media interviews. You can read that story here, but if you’re short on time, here’s an outline of the tips.

Don’t Start the interview Chronologically

It’s our nature to want to tell a story from the beginning, but this approach doesn’t work with reporters. It’s critical to get to the story point quickly during any interview. 

It might not be in our nature to start a story with the end-result, but this approach will keep the interview more focused. If a reporter knows within the first two minutes where the story is going, he’s more likely to follow it.

Reporters want to understand quickly what the story is – or they will get lost. If you start the story chronologically – and it’s a long story – every additional minute of talking is another potential minute at risk of losing the story. 

Focus on the Sell

It’s critical to communicate to reporters why their readers will care about your story, product, concept, idea – or whatever you’re selling. You don’t have to be overt with your sell, but the story sell must be expressed somewhere in the interview.

All reporters are writing for their readers. And that means they need a payoff for their readers. If you don’t communicate the payoff in the interview – also known as the sell – the reporter won’t have a story.

Add Insight to the story

Reporters don’t write about information; they write about angles. The news angle is all about how you frame the story and support it. As a CEO, you have industry knowledge reporters want to hear. Facts and figures are not part of that knowledge.

A common mistake from many CEOs and CTOs is to jump into the facts or data without providing insight or color on what it means. Don’t diminish your expertise or knowledge by quoting industry stats or data points. Instead, tell the reporter what they suggest or reveal.

Take Time to Breathe

Many business leaders know they have a few minutes to tell the story to reporter so they try to compress a 30 minute thought into 10 minutes of run-on sentences. 

I have a general rule that I tell clients. Don’t speak for more than 2 minutes without checking in with the reporter. Ask if he’s following along. Of course, it’s a general rule so there are exceptions. When you’re speaking with an industry reporter who wants to take a deep dive, then the old rule of checking in doesn’t always apply.

Don’t talk about Yourself

Unless you’re getting interviewed for a profile story, stay away from situations where you talk about yourself. Sure, you can provide insight on what you’re hearing from the industry. Or you can give your opinions on the latest trends you’re seeing. But those situations are different from blatantly talking about yourself. 

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the Financial PR Firm of the Year. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. City & State Magazine named him a PR Political Power Player in 2021.

The Future of Branding in Digital World – Forbes Analysis

By Mark Macias

It might seem hard to believe but the future of brands will not look anything like it does today. Yes, we will continue to have names like Coke, Netflix and Starbucks but their upstart competitors will have a huge advantage when it comes to the world of digital competition.

I wrote about this recently in Forbes, which you can read here. If you’re short on time, I’ll give you a faster read.

Unlike the 1990s and earlier, it took years to build a brand. But today, search engines like Google are dominating the branding space. You no longer need to remember brands. Instead, we just turn to Google, ask our question, and then the brand that Google chooses pops up.

Outside of the consumer market, brands are already beginning to exist less, and if you don’t believe me, look at your own personal journey. When was the last time you were searching for a restaurant in a new neighborhood?

You probably searched for “best restaurants near me” on your phone — and Google brought them to you. You didn’t have to remember the name of a restaurant chain; a search engine replaced your memory with an option. Those expensive commercials on TV were likely replaced with the restaurants listed on your phone.

The good news is this new digital world is leveling the playing field for upstart brands. But the key to this successful brand strategy is to create a campaign around the right words.

As I wrote in Forbes: It’s not enough for people to search for the name of your restaurant on their phones. You want to position your product or service with search terms that new customers will use to find your product. 

Click here to read more of my thought leadership in Forbes.

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the Financial PR Firm of the Year. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. City & State Magazine named him a PR Political Power Player in 2021.

How Important are Media Contacts? Media Insider Perspective

By Mark Macias

With my media experience in TV at both the local and national levels, you’d think I would want to tell business owners that media contacts are our selling point. It’s true, I do have reporter friends and former colleagues across the US. 

But here’s the honest word: media relationships are only part of the story. Strategy always beats connections.

You can be best friends with the Executive Producer at Good Morning America. (Ironically, I am friends with the Executive Producer of GMA. We both were producers at Inside Edition and American Journal at the same time). But guess what – if I don’t have a good idea, he’s not going to return my call. This is where strategy comes into play. 

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How Much Does PR Cost?

It’s a common question every business owner wants to know. How much does PR cost.

There are many factors that determine how much a public relations campaign will cost. Is the campaign difficult? How many resources will be needed to pitch reporters? How much time is needed to explain the story to reporters. In a way, the PR industry is no different than the accounting industry. The complexity and resources needed determine the cost.

MACIAS PR has created an online tool to help you get a PR estimate quickly. You don’t need to spend hours on the phone, explaining your product. If you’re curious about the cost of PR, just answer a few questions by clicking here.

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