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.

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.

 

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””

The Biggest PR Mistake

By Mark Macias

There are many mistakes you can make while running a public relations campaign. Fortunately, most of these mistakes can be overcome and corrected as long as you identify them early.

But, there is one PR mistake you can rarely fix and when it happens, an entire media placement is effectively worthless.

What is the biggest mistake: when a reporter misspells, or worse, doesn’t include the name of your business in the story.

This is why you need to always – repeat – always reinforce the name of your business with a reporter throughout the interview. In addition, you should also be continually dropping the name of your business throughout the reporter interview.

Why Name Dropping Your Business Matters

I helped get a friend on a local TV show in Phoenix and it was a great segment. He was positioned as an expert in his field, but the TV station never put his name or business name on the screen.

He could have avoided this error on live TV if he would have dropped the name of his business at the end of his live segment.

Remember, reporters and producers move at warp speed. Minutes matter in print. Seconds count in TV. Decrease the chances of your name getting lost by taking control of the interview and sprinkling the name of your business throughout the interview.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and author of the book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. You can read more on his public relations agency at MaciasPR

 

 

 

PR for Start-ups

By Mark Macias

The number of start-ups launching in 2015 will continue to grow as the economy expands, which means publicity for your start-up will get more difficult.

If you’re trying to get your start-up on the news, you first need to identify a strong narrative. I’ve written other articles that give guidelines on how to identify and find the story angle needed for coverage, which you can read in Consistent Coverage. I recommend you read those articles before submitting your story to reporters so you can increase your chances for coverage.

Now that you have identified the story angle, here are some websites geared towards start-ups. You still need to reach out to the reporters, but it will help with your initial media research. Links to the websites and their company mission (in their own words from their site) are below:

TechCrunch

www.TechCrunch.com/

“TechCrunch is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news. Founded in June 2005, TechCrunch and its network of websites now reach over 12 million unique visitors and draw more than 37 million page views per month. The TechCrunch community includes more than 2 million friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other social media.”

Mashable

www.mashable.com/submit/

“Founded in 2005, Mashable is the top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture. With more than 40 million monthly pageviews, Mashable is the most prolific news site reporting breaking web news, providing analysis of trends, reviewing new websites and services, and offering social media resources and guides. Mashable’s audience includes early adopters, social media enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, influencers, brands and corporations, marketing, PR and advertising agencies, Web 2.0 aficionados and technology journalists. Mashable is also popular with bloggers as well as Twitter and Facebook users — an increasingly influential demographic.”

StartupBooster

www.startupbooster.com/submit-site/

“This blog is dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs learn the basic techniques necessary to succeed with their online ventures, share their experiences with others and promote their new startups.”

KillerStartups

http://www.killerstartups.com/submit-startup/

“KillerStartups is dedicated to sharing more than just the hottest new startups. We want to share the stories of the PEOPLE behind the successful companies and their advice for other internet entrepreneurs. Want to share your story with our readers and promote your website?
Fill out our online submission form and tell us about what you’ve got goin’ on.”

StartupWizz

http://www.startupwizz.com/submit-a-startup/

“It was founded in 2009 as a place for entrepreneurs and investors to stay informed about startups on the web. Our goal is to find some of the most disruptive, niche and interesting startups that our peers and investors want to know about.”

Squidoo

http://www.squidoo.com/sumbit-startup

“StartUpLift helps promising startups get featured and receive insightful feedback. People come to the site to learn about new startups and to engage in stimulating conversation. There is no charge simply to feature your startup. However, in the spirit of keeping feedback ecosystem alive, StartUpLift does ask that you provide feedback to at least one of the startups featured on our site before submitting yours.”

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 Measure PR ROI

By Mark Macias

Measuring the ROI from a marketing or ad buy is fairly straight-forward, but PR has variables that can make it more difficult to asses the direct impact on the bottom line. But contrary to what most entrepreneurs believe about Public Relations being nebulous, it is possible to measure its effectiveness.

Here are six different methods to help you measure the ROI of any PR campaign:

ROI of Media Placements

In addition to the number of media placements secured by your PR firm, you should look closely at the internal distribution numbers and demographics reached from your media outreach. Many news organizations publish these numbers on their advertising pages, giving you insight into how many or what type of consumers you are reaching. This assessment can give you a measurable look at the number of consumers your PR campaign is reaching. If you look closely at the demographics, you can also determine if you are reaching the right consumer or businesses.

ROI of Credibility

Public Relations is especially effective and measurable when it comes to increasing your credibility in the service sector industries. Consumers want to know that your service has been vetted and is reliable. If you’re a hedge fund portfolio manager, potential investors will assume you are a better money manager if you’re an expert on CNBC or in the WSJ. You’re less likely to be a scam artist if the media is talking about you. This increased credibility will improve your profile with potential clients and lead to more sales.

PR ROI with Sales

It’s very difficult for a PR firm to assess the ROI from sales if the client doesn’t share internal information, however every business owner should be able to identify where their clients are coming from. A better way to keep track of PR ROI is to create a special website link for the media campaign. If customers are typing in this direct link with any search engines, you know your PR campaign is gaining traction. Analytics and Webmaster can also tell you which websites are sending you traffic.

ROI for Search Engine Rankings

Nearly every PR story helps with your website ranking because the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) identify these websites as quality links. In other words, Google believes if the New York Times links to your website, you business must have value.

Here’s another way PR can help your website get a higher ranking with the search engines.

Smaller blogs frequently run stories or snippets from the larger media outlets. If you are able to get a large story in a major newspaper, there is a good chance that you can get other, smaller websites to also do a story promoting your business, which can help your SEO with the additional links.

ROI from Analytics

In October 2013, Google changed its analytics data, making it more difficult to determine key words that are sending traffic to your website. The good news is you can still measure the ROI from PR using Google Analytics. Unfortunately, a successful PR strategy gets your company into the conversation, so analytics can’t measure this aspect of PR, but if more people are finding your website using specific keywords for your company, you can safely assume the PR campaign is converting on its ROI. You can also use Google Webmaster to see more details on how the search engine queries to see if these news articles are also driving traffic to your site.

ROI of Social Media Influence

A successful PR campaign that uses video can become another way to measure the ROI of PR. It might be difficult to measure the exact ROI from these videos but you can measure the reach by video views. Marketing research also shows a video on your website can increase sales up to two-fold, not to mention the added SEO value it brings with search engines.

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

How PR Helps with SEO

By Mark Macias

If you type “PR Help” in Google, you will see a link to public relations site on the first page, called PR Help.  That high profile search engine ranking didn’t happen by accident and it didn’t arrive solely because of the website name.

It was a choreographed PR strategy that took a little less than 3-months to achieve.

There are many strategies that can help push your website ranking with the search engines: key word optimization, Internet marketing, promoting your website through back links – but one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your search ranking is via public relations.

It is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short.

How can PR my search engine ranking?

If you want potential clients or customers to find your website via search engines, consider looking to public relations as an alternative.

Unlike online ads, which expire with your budget, with public relations, your news stories keep working long after your media campaign is over, especially if you can convince the news outlet to post a link to your website.

All of the search engines will rightfully believe your company has more valuable information if a prominent news organization, like the New York Times, posts a website link to your website. That in turn, will raise your profile and ranking with the search engines.

Here’s another way PR can help your website get a higher ranking with the search engines.

Smaller blogs frequently run stories or snippets from the larger media outlets. If a major newspaper runs a story on your company, there is a good chance smaller websites will want to run the story, which helps your SEO.

So before you devote that marketing budget to Facebook ads, take a minute to research the ROI of PR.

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

 

International PR Campaign

By Mark Macias

Would you like to introduce your product or service to consumers in the USA? Imagine the growth an international campaign could bring to your company.

New York City alone has a $1.29 trillion economy, larger than the economy of Mexico ($1.15 trillion), South Korea ($1.12 trillion) and the Netherlands (S838 billion), according to a report by HIS Global Insight (http://usmayors.org/metroeconomies/0712/FullReport.pdf)

And don’t assume you can’t afford a solid PR campaign in the USA, especially if your start-up can afford to buy Facebook ads. A publicity campaign is almost always more cost efficient than an advertising campaign. The cost for a PR campaign varies by the complexity and scope of the campaign, but it can increase your brand awareness, introduce a new product and improve your website’s ranking with Google. (Click here to read how a PR campaign can improve your SEO ranking).

But where do you begin as a foreign company, trying to enter the US market?

MaciasPR has worked with many international companies and start-ups trying to enter the US market. We have gotten our clients publicity inside some of the most influential news organizations, including the New York Times, CBS News, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, as well as targeted industry publications like Venturebeat, BusinessInsider and Ecommerce.com.

But before you enter the USA market, you should be prepared to answer a few questions on your company’s vision.

Do you want a national or local media campaign? Is it B2B or B2C? How complex is your message? Who exactly do you want to reach?

We can guide you via Skype if you would like to hear a more targeted media approach for your company. Just message us at www.MaciasPR.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

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