Online Ads Are Cheating your Budget – Infographic Analysis

By Mark Macias

Online advertising is typically the first approach for many tech startups and small business owners, but there is a big silent secret that is stealing a portion of your online ad budget. It involves Internet bots that are disguised as consumers and secretly clicking on your ads without you knowing.

Some exposes (like this story in Moz) have alleged the ad networks are working together with the ad agencies to essentially provide “fake” clicks on ads that generate revenue for the ad networks. Google has publicly come out against the bots, even issuing a report on what it was doing to prevent these “bots” from clicking on online ads.

Here’s a closer look at how Internet bots are stealing a portion of your online ad budget without you even realizing it.

Top PR Firm of the Year - Macias PR - Analysis on Online Advertising

Formula for Media Placements

Formula for Media Placements

By Mark Macias

Many people assume there is a secret formula to getting stories on TV or in the newspapers. If that were the case, the formula would have been hacked and posted on the Internet by now.

It’s also not about who you know, which many outsiders assume. Yes – a friend in the media can help you by guiding or framing the story, but if you don’t have a solid idea, they won’t run it on the news – no matter how close you are.

A more successful media strategy is identifying the strongest narrative with an angle that is creative and unique. As an Executive Producer with WNBC in New York, I approved the story ideas from reporters, producers and publicists. I also approved the scripts that came out of our consumer, health and medical units. When I was reviewing these scripts, or trying to identify whether this was a story of interest, I would use these traits to help me guide me.

1) Is it timely?

2) How does this benefit our readers?

3) What is the controversy and does it have a solution?

4) Is there an interactive element we can add?

5) Who else has done this story?

Generally speaking, if you can craft a media campaign around those questions, you will have more success with your media placements. You can also get some guidance by looking closely at the media formula photo we posted above this article.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He’s also the 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 consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

Questions to Ask BEFORE you Hire a PR Firm

By Mark Macias

It’s not easy finding the right service provider for any industry, but in public relations, it can be even more misleading since anyone can call himself a publicist.

So is there a way to weave out the quality from the quantity? And how can you quantitatively measure the value and success of a PR firm?

As a former Executive Producer with NBC in New York,  I was pitched stories on a daily basis from publicists, reporters and producers. And as a Senior Producer with CBS, I pitched stories everyday to a tough audience of skeptical journalists.

Now, as the owner of a PR firm, I see the other side.

In my weekly routine, I converse with all kinds of potential PR clients from various industries – finance, tech, service sector, nonprofits. Some of these potential clients are budding entrepreneurs, while others are established CEOs of major organizations.

Regardless of the potential client, I am discovering most business owners ask the wrong questions when it comes to identifying the best PR firm for their needs.

If I were to hire a PR firm, here are the questions I would want my publicist to answer before I hired him or her. I’m basing this on my media career and my insider knowledge of publicity.

Can you give me a publicity strategy for my product?

This is a crucial question. You want to see how the publicist thinks on his feet. I’ve asked this question to seasoned publicists for fun to get into their heads. Most of them say, I would need to research it. I believe a great publicist will have his own ideas and be able to identify it based on his experience without researching what others did.

How do you see my brand?

This question reveals how well the publicist understands your product, platform or service. Make the publicist or PR team explain how they see your product or service. It’s okay if they don’t understand everything at once. I’ve worked with high-tech platforms that took me time to grasp. This is where the publicist should ask questions to get into your product. From this, you will see how well he or she grasps your business.

Tell me about your clients and the media placements you have gotten for them?

Media placements mean everything in the world of PR. I have gotten my clients big stories in the New York Times, New York Post, Good Morning America, CNN en Español, Fox News, Cosmo, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur Magazine -you get the idea. A diverse portfolio suggests this publicist knows how to identify a narrative, regardless of industry, which is not an easy task. Equally important, make sure the media placements this PR firm has secured are in the same arena of your targeted news outlets.

Will I be working directly with you?

Most of the large PR firms in New York will send their best sellers to get your business, but after they win your account, they will pawn off the work to a 22-year-old college grad. How do I know? Because at NBC and CBS, I used to get emails and phone calls from publicists who were fresh out of college while their bosses tried to win my love with after-work events. Make sure you know who is developing the strategy and representing your company to journalists.

What if we don’t get along?

This is a great question because relationships matter in business. If you’re working with a publicist and the chemistry is off, you should be able to get a new person on the account. It’s normal to have differences over strategy. I’ve clashed with some clients because they wanted it done their way, but after I explained my strategy and after we delivered strong results, most of them deferred to my expertise when it came to the media.

How long before we get to see your results?

I’m not giving away my answers to this question, but you should ask it.

What is your media experience?

Experience matters when it comes to anything in life, but it especially matters with the media. Just because your publicist knows how to sell, don’t assume he or she knows how to sell a story to the media. This is a craft and skill that involves a strong understanding of editorial. I would want to hear more about this PR team’s editorial experience within the media. And I’m not talking about, “oh, I’ve worked with this person on stories.” Working with a producer on a story is not the same work as actually producing the story.

Why are you different from everyone else?

Force this publicist to sell him or herself. They are going to be selling you for a living, so you better make sure this publicist knows how to sell himself.

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.

Media Strategy – Insider POV

Hockey & PR Strategies

By Mark Macias

A great hockey strategy is similar to a great media strategy, and it most aptly applies to a phrase made famous by Wayne Gretzky.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Wayne Gretzky outperformed others by always understanding where the hockey puck was going before it was even hit. This intuition and feel for the puck gave him an advantage because he didn’t need to pivot. The puck pivoted to him.

It’s a similar strategy and approach that also applies to publicity campaigns.

During my time as an Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York, I would always hear a familiar phrase in the morning news meeting.

“That’s old news.”

No reporter or TV producer wants to pitch a story that is old news, which is why when you are conceptualizing a media strategy, you should look first to the trajectory of the news cycle. What is the news covering now, or even better yet – what will they cover tomorrow?

You can always look to today’s news for guidance, but the exceptional media strategist will always be thinking of tomorrow because he knows tomorrow’s story will actually be read today.

Think about that for that a moment……..

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.

How to Lose Twitter Followers

By: Mark Macias

Imagine the pain of learning you lost 3200 Twitter followers overnight. It was a painful reality for a popular morning TV personality in Phoenix.

Tara Hitchcock was the morning show anchor for Good Morning Arizona in Phoenix a few years ago. The TV industry is a transient field, so I didn’t read too much into her departure when I heard the news until I read this in an article:

“She has started up a new Twitter account -@taratv- in place of her old one, which is owned by Channel 3.”

Tara spent her TV career in Phoenix, promoting that Twitter handle, but she lost control of it because she didn’t own the handle.

Own Your Twitter Handle

Tara Hitchcock is unfortunately not alone.

I have many close friends in the TV business and many of them associate their Twitter accounts with their current employer. It’s great to drink the Kool-Aid and drop ABC or CBS in your handle, but what happens when you switch employers. These reporters and anchors are harming their ability to brand themselves by giving away their influential Twitter power to the networks.

This doesn’t just apply to TV personalities.

There are many companies that will create a Twitter or Facebook account for any small businesses and for free. They even will help grow your fan base for a small fee, but when you read the fine print, you will see that you don’t own the Facebook page or the Twitter handle.

You don’t need to be a calculus major to see what will happen when  you take your business to another social media provider: you will lose your account.

So before you go identifying your entire brand with one employer, or even one industry on Twitter and Facebook, think of what could happen if four years down the road, you decide to take a different path.

Use a Facebook and Twitter name that you can take with you. I’m glad I did that during my time with NBC and CBS, which is why you can follow me on Twitter/MarkMacias or on Facebook.com/maciaspr.

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.

Why the Media Says No

By: Mark Macias

How do the news producers and newspaper editors decide what to print and broadcast on TV? Conspiracy theorists love this question because it gives them a chance to point out how most national news organizations always cover the same stories.

Yes – that happens, but is it a coincidence or has the media been indoctrinated to all chase the same news stories?

Here’s an insider view on the media from someone who spent time as an Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York — the places where these conspiracies all allegedly begin.

Every news outlet wants to run enterprise and original stories, but the open secret inside every newsroom is most editors, news managers and producers are afraid of failure.

That’s right – they’re afraid of pitching a bad story idea that no one will like.

If the public doesn’t buy, read or watch their stories, those reporters and reporters who pitched the story know they will lose credibility in the newsroom.

And once a journalist loses credibility, he has an uphill battle, especially in competitive New York newsrooms where the flavor of the month usually melts before the end of the day.

How to Improve Your Chances for News Coverage

If you want a story written about your business, you need to cite a reason why people will want to watch. You need to explain why the newspaper readers will benefit from your story.

You can improve your chances for coverage by understanding how viewers and readers think. And in just in case you’re wondering, how do viewers and readers think?

Pretty much just like you and me. That’s why I still believe the best journalists and story tellers understand themselves first. The more you understand human behavior, the better you are at driving news coverage for 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.

Finding the Narrative – Narrow the Story

Macias PR Tip 23

by Mark Macias

Anyone who has ever played catch with a dog knows that he can only catch one ball at a time. There’s a lesson in the above photo that also applies to public relations.

During my time as an Executive Producer with NBC in New York, publicists always pitched me stories that contained several angles. I’m sure some of the more experienced publicists thought they had a better chance for coverage by giving all of their ideas at once. With the more inexperienced publicists, it just sounded like an unorganized and poorly thought-out pitch.

Narrow Down Your Pitch for More Success

You will have more success with media placements if you focus your story down to one angle before you reach out to reporters.

Look at it like this: the average taped segment on local TV is roughly 70 to 80 seconds. That’s not a lot of time to tell a story to viewers once you include a character and expert. Likewise, most influential bloggers and online news sites are also dropping their story length to 600 words.

That’s not enough time or space to include a narrative with multiple story lines.

So remember the next time you are trying to get media placements – make sure you are focusing the pitch down to one message. If you try to tell more than one story at a time, the message will get lost. And if the message gets lost, you end up losing your chance at publicity.

 

How to Reach Hispanic Consumers

By Mark Macias

The mainstream media, politicians and advertisers are catching onto what most Latinos knew 20+ years ago. Hispanics are a huge consumer market and if you can tap into their families, you will have a growing business.

The CMO of Coca-Cola recently told an influential crowd of advertising executives that Hispanics are a key part of Coke’s growth strategy through 2020.

We kind of all know that, but what the CEO of Nielson – David Calhoun – said was even more intriguing: He predicted Hispanics would be the biggest source of growth for all US companies. He then challenged all business owners to spend 65% of their time “figuring out this Hispanic opportunity.”

Hispanic Market Pizza Post

The Growing Hispanic Consumer Population

When I was an Executive Producer with NBC, I co-founded the NBC/Telemundo Hispanic Forum, which brought Latino journalists from the English and Spanish news divisions together for networking and mentoring sessions.

You would think with my media experience and culture, I would have thought of targeting Hispanics when it came to finding new business.

But guess what: I learned the hard way like many entrepreneurs.

It took meetings with three different clients (who are not Hispanic) before I realized I was missing out on reaching a key growth opportunity. They all wanted to know how they could market to my culture via the media.

Spanish Media Outlets

After the light went on in my head, I pitched my law firm client to CNN en Español.

Roughly 5-minutes later, I heard back from a CNN producer, saying she loved my story. That segment ended up running on the program, Dinero, which airs at 8pm on CNN en Español.

For nearly 4-minutes, my client was an expert on legal issues in prime time.

So what does this mean to you?

If you speak Spanish, start pitching the Spanish media because they need experts for their news stories too. Lawyers, accountants, financial consultants, nutritionists, doctors– they’re easy to find anywhere, but Spanish journalists need to look harder to find their equivalents for their audience.

I don’t speak for all Hispanics, but I can tell you everyone in my family spends a lot of money to make sure we stay healthy and young looking. My vain family is a marketer’s dream. Loreal wants to reach my sisters. Banana Republic wants to reach my Dad.

That’s why I’m now looking in the mirror and going after potential clients who are just like me. If you want to reach more consumers like me, give us a shout. We’ll show you what we delivered for other clients in the Spanish market.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. 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.

Mark Cuban: “Startups Should Never Hire a PR Firm”

By Mark Macias

A friend just forwarded me a Business Insider article where Mark Cuban – the brash owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of the reality TV show Shark Tank – discussed PR for startups and advised that they “Never hire a PR Firm.”

In his business book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, Cuban also elaborated on why many companies shouldn’t hire PR firms.

I sent Mark Cuban an email after reading his book – and he actually responded. Rather than elaborating, take a look at my email to him and how he responded. It will change your view on PR firms for startups.

Continue reading “Mark Cuban: “Startups Should Never Hire a PR Firm””

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.