How to Stay on Message with the Media

By Mark Macias

Politicians are notorious for not answering the question. Journalists ask the yes or no question, and they scramble to another topic instead of staying on the message. Here’s how it came across recently when an MSNBC reporter asked candidate Scott Walker a simple yes or no answer.

KASIE HUNT: Do you think that birthright citizenship should be ended?

SCOTT WALKER: Well, like I said, Harry Reid said it’s not right for this country — I think that’s something we should, yeah, absolutely, going forward-

HUNT: We should end birthright citizenship?

WALKER: Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we’re going to enforce the laws in this country.

HUNT: And you should deport the children of people who are illegal immigrants?

WALKER: I didn’t say that — I said you have to enforce the law, which to me is focusing on E-Verify.

The Importance of Staying on Message

I work with many tech startup entrepreneurs who are typically less media savvy. Their delivery frequently works to their advantage because they are authentic, but this isn’t politics. If you’re trying to promote your business or service through the media and you have a reporter listening to you, it’s important to stay on message and to continually sell your services.

Don’t learn the hard way. A video client recently told me that she was interviewed by NPR, which is a national news organization that reaches influential and educated listeners. She told me a reporter spent two different days on the phone with her but she wasn’t mentioned in the story. She asked me what she could have done differently.

I wasn’t listening to that interview, but if a reporter calls you twice – he or she is rooting for you. They want you to give them the context or sound that they need for their story. Journalists are inherently self-interested, which isn’t a negative stereotype in this situation. When it comes to writing their story, they need to be self-interested or every other person will influence the direction of their message.

Media Advice for Interviews

This is why it’s so important to stay on message during an interview with the media. You have little time to persuade this journalist that you belong in his story, so measure that time well. Don’t spend 15-minutes giving background on facts if the reporter didn’t ask for that. Facts don’t sell the story. Context sells your story. Perspective brings commentary and color to any story. Reporters want color and context because color brings a story alive and context makes it relevant.

Remember that the next time you get a chance to sell your tech or business story to the media. Stay on message, the clock is ticking.

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.

Market a Fund to Investors

By Mark Macias

Public relations can raise the profile of your firm. Unfortunately, the financial industry is one of the last sectors to embrace PR.

MACIAS PR has led many media campaigns for hedge funds, private equity firms, money managers and financial service providers. Our team secured media coverage for our clients with CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s Magazine and others.

This track record is partially why industry peers named MACIAS PR the 2017 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. And in 2015 and 2016, Finance Monthly named us the Financial PR Firm of the Year.

A recent white paper, How to Market your Fund under the New SEC Rules, found less than 5 percent of SEC registered hedge funds are taking advantage of PR.

The white paper found fewer than one in 20 SEC registered funds had a website, putting them out of reach of new investors. The research also discovered roughly 80 percent of the funds in Connecticut didn’t even have an email address for  investors to contact.

The white paper was published by MACIAS PR and can be downloaded by clicking here.

How to Market a Fund to Investors

Before the SEC lifted the restrictions on marketing, most funds had not developed a website, fearing it would give the impression of skirting the old SEC prohibition on advertising.

Those funds are now at a huge disadvantage since they are entering a modern world where an online presence is crucial to marketing any service.

Marketing a fund with the media is drastically different than marketing a product to the public. Every fund needs credibility before the media will even consider putting a portfolio manager on TV or quoting him as a financial expert. This is why he says it’s so crucial for all funds to establish credibility now with a strong online presence.

Here is an except from the white paper How to Market your Fund under the New SEC Rules:

Establish Credibility before any Media Outreach

Credibility matters in life, but it especially matters for journalists, says Macias who was a journalist for NBC, CBS and King World Productions. Whenever a portfolio manager is pitched as an expert to the media, journalists will quietly and overtly measure his expertise, integrity and experience in the financial industry. If a reporter doesn’t see an online presence on your fund, credibility questions will be raised, Macias says. Here are a few credibility questions you should be able to address and answer before your fund pursues media placements.

Develop a Content Marketing Plan

Your team of analysts already has a wealth of research that could be turned into white papers, blogs, articles or editorials that could be marketed on the web. This is known as “content marketing.” Content marketing is one of the most effective methods for reaching new investors because it provides a real value to consumers. When promoted on the web, content marketing platforms, like nRelate or Outbrain, can help your original content reach even more targeted business readers on influential blogs and news websites.

Research Financial PR and Financial Marketing Firms

Unlike ad campaigns that stop when your campaign ends, media campaigns keep working for your fund long after a PR campaign is over. The cost for a PR campaign effectively diminishes overtime, since news organizations rarely bring down their stories.

Another benefit to a financial PR campaign is a boost to your search engine ranking. If your PR team can convince a news organization to post a link to your website on their news site, other search engines will suddenly view your fund as more valuable, boosting its ranking to a higher position. Here are a few questions to help you determine which PR firm is the best fit for your hedge fund.

Develop an Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing campaigns can be a targeted way to share your investor newsletters with potential investors. When written in a concise way, a fund’s newsletter can be shared with your clients’ sphere of influence, especially when it contains social media links embedded in the newsletter. The key to launching a successful email campaign is to deliver original content that educates readers on your fund.

Macias PR was named the 2017 Strategic PR Firm of the Year and 2016 and 2015 top PR Firm of the Year – USA by Finance Monthly. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.

Get My Story on the News

By Mark Macias

I recently got a Linkedin email that had a catchy headline on the surface, but lacked truth when you looked deeper.

“Publicity is the most under used method to get attention, yet the media is starving for stories.”

I think the Linkedin spammer might have had a better “PR” argument if he said the media is looking for great ideas. “Starving for stories” implies there is a shortage of story pitches hitting reporters and producers and that is not the case.

As an Executive Producer with WNBC, I approved story ideas from publicists, reporters and producers. When I would log into my email at NBC and CBS every morning, I would easily have 300 new emails that were sent overnight from publicists trying to get their clients on the news.

More than 90 percent of those emails didn’t identify a solid news angle and were treated as spam. Those publicists couldn’t find the story narrative even if they had a journalist sitting next to them. And that wasn’t just based on my media experience in New York. During my time as a news producer in Phoenix and Miami, the publicists were actually even more inexperienced.

The media wants to cover stories that have a compelling narrative, stories that impact the public, stories that uncover wrongs or inspire people to do right. Yes – not all news is bad. There is a home for inspiring stories and in TV, we usually call it the kicker.

The news industry is competitive, and it’s not easy to get a solid news story placed unless you have those compelling elements. Here’s more proof of that with numbers. A 30-minute newscast is actually 22 minutes after commercials. Add in sports and weather, and you have a heck of a lot of people trying to get their product inside of 12 minutes of air time.

So the next time you start thinking of hiring a PR firm, make sure you research the publicist or PR firm. If they start throwing out statements like the media is starving for stories – be leery.

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 or MarketYourFund.com

SEC Rules – Marketing Your Fund

What impact will the new SEC rules on advertising have on investors and the overall hedge fund industry?

From an operational perspective, most hedge funds are now at a marketing disadvantage since they have not developed an online presence. An analysis of more than 3,100 funds registered with the SEC revealed that fewer than one in 20 of those funds had developed a website, according to the white paper, How to Market your Fund under the New SEC Rules

Marketing a fund to investors is drastically different than marketing a product to the public. It requires content marketing, credibility for the fund, targeted marketing to investors, a prominent online presence and a media outreach to stand out from others.

Credibility must be established from the start before the media will even consider putting your portfolio manager on TV or quoting him as a financial expert. He may manage a $100 million portfolio, but the media is not going to take his word for it without seeing evidence of his expertise. This is why it’s so crucial for all funds to establish credibility now with a strong online presence before the new proposed SEC rules on advertising go into effect.

Hedge fund managers can read more white papers on the topic at www.MarketYourFund.com

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 or MarketYourFund.com

Credibility for my Business

By Mark Macias

Credibility matters in life, but it especially matters if you are trying to get a story on the news.

Whenever a journalist is pitched a story, he will quietly and overtly measure the person’s expertise, integrity and experience in the industry. Journalists  want to see proof on why this person is the best expert to add color to the industry.

This is why your business must establish credibility in the online world if you want to secure credible media placements.

If a reporter doesn’t see a solid online presence, credibility questions will be raised. This doesn’t mean you won’t succeed with a media placement, but it will be a much harder story sell to the media if you can’t show why you are an expert.

Here are a few questions to address and answer before you pursue media placements.

Q) What makes you qualified to speak on this topic?

Q) How many years of experience have you spent in the industry and why does this make you more qualified than your competitors?

Q) How big is your business in comparison to others?

Q) What part of your daily routine is spent reinforcing your expertise?

Q) What do you know as an insider that others would want to know?

Q) Does your business have a direct impact on reshaping the future?

Q) Is your business positioned as a leader in any trends?

Q) Do trade organizations recognize your business as a leader or expert?

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 or MarketYourFund.com

Market Your Hedge Fund

Less than five percent of SEC registered hedge funds are prepared to take advantage of the new advertising rules, according to the white paper How to Market your Fund under the New SEC Rules.

Its analysis of more than 3,100 SEC registered funds showed that fewer than one in 20 had developed a public website, putting them out of reach of new investors, according to research cited in the paper. It also discovered roughly 80 percent of the funds registered with the SEC in Connecticut, identified as opportunistic in strategy, didn’t even have an email address for potential investors to contact.

The white paper was published in July 2013 by the PR firm MaciasPR and can be downloaded by clicking here.

Most hedge funds never developed an online presence fearing it would give the impression of skirting the old SEC prohibition on advertising. These hedge funds are at a huge disadvantage now that they are entering the modern world where a prominent online presence is crucial to marketing your fund.

Marketing a fund with the media is drastically different than marketing a product to the public. Every fund needs credibility before the media will even consider putting a portfolio manager on TV or quoting him as a financial expert. This is why he says it’s so crucial for all funds to establish credibility now with a strong online presence.

The white paper, How to Market your Fund under the New SEC Rules, outlines five steps hedge funds must take now to market their funds to investors.

An excerpt from the white paper includes the following steps for marketing a hedge fund to investors under the new SEC advertising rules:

Establish an Online Presence

There are multiple ways to design a website, but most developers and content marketers agree that an HTML website is better than a Flash website. Search engines like Google and Yahoo can’t read the content within flash so it makes it harder for flash websites to get picked up by search engines. What good is having a website if Google can’t find it? In addition, flash is not compatible with mobile phones, which means anyone who goes to your website from their phone won’t be able to read your content. The world is gravitating towards mobile so most developers agree it’s only a matter of time before flash websites are transitioned out. The white paper recommends developing an HTML website over a flash website.

Establish Credibility before any Media Outreach

Credibility matters in life, but it especially matters for journalists, says Macias who was a journalist for NBC, CBS and King World Productions. Whenever a portfolio manager is pitched as an expert to the media, journalists will quietly and overtly measure his expertise, integrity and experience in the financial industry. If a reporter doesn’t see an online presence on your fund, credibility questions will be raised, Macias says. Here are a few credibility questions you should be able to address and answer before your fund pursues media placements.

Q) What makes you qualified to speak on this topic?
Q) How many years of experience have you spent in the industry?
Q) How big is your fund in comparison to others?
Q) How much of your daily routine reinforces your expertise as a portfolio manager?
Q) What do you know as an insider that other investors would want to know?

Develop a Content Marketing Plan

Your team of analysts already has a wealth of research that could be turned into white papers, blogs, articles or editorials that could be marketed on the web. This is known as “content marketing.” Content marketing is one of the most effective methods for reaching new investors because it provides a real value to consumers. When promoted on the web, content marketing platforms, like nRelate or Outbrain, can help your original content reach even more targeted business readers on influential blogs and news websites.

Find the Best PR Financial Firm

Here are a few questions to help you determine which PR firm is the best fit for your hedge fund.

*Can you give me a publicity strategy for my fund?

*How do you see my fund?

*Tell me about your clients and media placements you have secured?

*Will we be working directly with you? Who is the account executive assigned to us?

*How long before we can expect to see media results?

*What is your media experience?

Develop an Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing campaigns can be highly controversial because no one likes spam, but when executed in the proper way, they can be highly effective as an investor outreach program. The key to launching a successful email campaign is to deliver original content that educates readers on your fund. Email marketing campaigns are a great opportunity to share research that is exclusive to your fund.

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 or MarketYourFund.com

 

Press Releases – Worth the Money?

By Mark Macias

Clients are always asking me what I think of press releases on the PR newswires.

“Will they help us get publicity with reporters,” they ask.

Even a spokesperson with a New York City agency asked me what I thought of PR newswires. She said her agency approved funding for press releases with the PR newswires.

I used to work with her at CBS, so I threw the question right back at her.

“Did you ever once go to the PR newswires to look for a story when you were at CBS?”

Press Releases – When do they Work and Not Work

But press releases can be extremely helpful depending on your media need and strategy.

The various PR newswires are helpful when your business is trying to get something on the record – like a milestone. If your business is growing faster than the competition, you want to announce it to the world and PR newswires are a great place for these.

But press releases on the PR newswires should never be confused as a media strategy.

Notice the emphasis is on “PR newswires” and not “newswires.”

How PR Newswires Differ

There is a big difference the “newswires,” like the Associated Press, Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters, and the “PR newswires.”

The newswires are actually read by assignment editors, producers and reporters. It’s not easy getting media announcements in the newswires because the news threshold is even higher, but if you can get it picked up by a newswire, other news organizations may run with your story.

Paid press releases with the PR newswires can be an element of a larger media strategy, but before you spend the extra money, ask yourself these questions:

Am I trying to get publicity with journalists? If you are, you will be better pitching the story individually to reporters.

Do I want to get something on the record? If your company has achieved a major milestone, signed a major client, hit an impressive sales number, etc – a press release on the PR newswires is a great means to distribute that message.

Do I need exposure for my new website? A paid press release can help with SEO because the backlinks will potentially help you with search engine ranking.

You can read longer, in-depth stories on these topics at www.prhelp.co.

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 or MarketYourFund.com

Cat and Mouse – Related to PR

By Mark Macias

Why does the cat always catch the mouse? When you think of how agile and quick a mouse can be, he should always be able to outmaneuver the cat. Yet, nearly every time, the cat will always catch the mouse.

That’s not just a fun question. It’s actually a way of thinking that applies to public relations.

First off, I don’t claim to be an expert on mice or cats. I have never owned a cat and I hate mice, so I am not skilled at analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of mice and cats. But as a person who lives in Manhattan, -and every New Yorker will tell you – “if you have mice, get a cat and the problem will go away.”

There must be some strategy behind a cat’s approach. There is and here is how it applies to public relations and business.

What Cats and Mice Teach us about Public Relations

A cat traditionally studies its prey before it attacks. It tries to understand the mouse’s movements and agility in advance. The cat is more patient. It takes his time approaching the mouse, waiting for the right moment to pounce while the mouse is busy sniffing the ground.

Now let’s take a closer look at the mouse. I’ve watched mice move on the streets of Manhattan and I will never understand why he loses to the cat. The mouse is faster and more agile and should run circles around the puffy paw.

Trust me, I couldn’t catch a mouse on the streets but I guarantee you I could catch a cat if I needed to. The mouse – on the surface – has every natural talent to win the household game, but it doesn’t because he is afraid.

In the world of PR, you should study and understand the journalists you want to pitch because you only get one chance. If you fire off that story idea before it is completely developed, you risk losing an opportunity for coverage.

Many clients want to see results quickly, and as a business owner, I understand. I want to see a high rate of return as well on my investments. But if the execution of the strategy is rushed and sloppy, you risk losing out on solid media placements.

Fear of Failure Destroys PR Campaigns

Fear is another failing item that can’t be associated with public relations. A creative media strategy requires confidence in an idea and strength with the execution. You can’t be afraid of creative ideas when pitching reporters. Sure, I’ve come up with some crazy publicity stunts and not all of them worked. But a good majority did. If I was afraid of failure, I would have missed out on the home runs. The same applies to your business. You can’t be afraid like that little mouse.

Finally, the mouse fails because he doesn’t think. If you have observed any mouse in a kitchen after turning on the light, they don’t react to change well. Their bodies scramble without direction. It’s like they are immobilized by the sudden change in environment. As a publicist, you need to be able to adapt quickly to change. If you are getting multiple rejections from reporters than it is highly likely your strategy or media pitch is off and needs to adapt to the moment.

If you’re trying to succeed with media placements, you really do need to think like the cat but move like the mouse. If an idea doesn’t seem to be catching on, listen to the feedback of reporters. Are you missing an element with your idea? Does the reporter need more evidence to support the story? Be nimble and respond to their questions. Be like the mouse – fast, agile and quick to respond.

In the cartoon, Tom & Jerry, the mouse always won because he out-thought the big, slow cat. Of course, that is the land of fiction, but since the Tom & Jerry narrative was created by a real person, I can now understand why little Jerry won every time the two battled wits. The publicist or business that out-thinks the competition, usually wins.

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 or MarketYourFund.com

 

Who are the Best PR Firms

By Mark Macias

How can you find the best public relations firm for your business? What traits make for a great publicist?

I worked with a ton of publicists throughout my journalism career with NBC and CBS. Now, as the owner of a PR firm, I speak with business owners, entrepreneurs and large companies about their publicity needs. One of the major trends I’ve discerned is most people ask the wrong questions when it comes to finding the right PR firm.

If I were to hire a publicist, here are the questions I would want my publicist or PR firm to answer.

Can you give me a publicity strategy for my business?

You question reveals how the publicist thinks on his feet. A great publicist will have his or her own ideas. He will be able to explain a strategy off the top of his head because he understands how the media works and what will get traction.

How do you see my industry?

This question reveals how well the publicist understands your business. This is a valuable revelation because every publicity campaign will need to identify the unique angle that makes your business different from the competitors. If the publicist doesn’t understand why your business is different from your competitors, he will be at a great disadvantage when it comes to pitching the media stories.

Tell me about your clients and media placements you have secured?

A diverse portfolio suggests that your PR firm knows how to identify a solid news story. It takes a special talent to secure media placements in various industries and if your publicist can demonstrate that with his or her portfolio, you are likely getting an experienced publicist who will perform at the highest level.

Many business owners like to work with a PR firm that specializes in their industry. This can sometimes work against you in the world of PR because ideas quickly become stale. If a publicist has spent a lifetime solely in fashion or tech, they risk becoming complacent with their thinking or creativity.

Will I be working directly with you?

You should meet with the publicist or account executive who will be selling your story to reporters. Does he or she accurately represent your business? Whether it’s fair or not, journalists will associate your product or brand with how well your publicist presents it.

What if we don’t get along? What if I want out of the contract because you can’t deliver results?

Every PR firm hates these questions, but it’s a valid point to raise during your initial discussions. If you’re working with a publicist and the chemistry is bad or he/she doesn’t get along with you, you should be able to get a new person or get out of your account. It’s okay to have a difference of opinion with strategy, but it’s another challenge when you just don’t get along with the person. Make sure you get insurance in case this happens to you.

How long before we get to see results?

This answer can vary by the complexity of your campaign, but the PR firm should be able to give some guidance over a time frame.

What is your media experience?

Experience matters when it comes to figuring out how to frame a story or pitch it to the media. If I were hiring a publicist for my future business, I would ask him or her to sell me on their experience. This will also give you an idea of how well your publicist can sell your stories to the media.

You can read longer versions of these articles at www.prhelp.co.

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 or MarketYourFund.com