Crisis Communications – Protecting your Brand

By Mark Macias

It was just a little over a decade ago when newspapers wrote what they wanted and TV stations didn’t fear advertisers. The news organizations were cash cows for their influence with consumers, and the community had little alternatives for news sources.

But those days are gone. The New York Daily News – one of NYC’s largest newspaper – is up sale this week even though it is losing a reported $20 million dollars a year. Even its long-time publisher, Mort Zuckerman, is giving up on the news industry.

While this is extremely bad for journalism and democracy (and it concerns me), this weakened news-state can work to your advantage as a business owner. But first, you must understand how the editorial and legal process works inside of the newsrooms.

A story with any legal ramifications doesn’t just appear on television or in the newspapers. Depending on the complexity and litigious risk of the topic, it must go through a rigorous script-approval process that reaches editors and lawyers for the corporation. The more hands that are involved with a script-approval process, the better odds you have of influencing the story’s coverage.

And don’t assume the media doesn’t care about your business or background, especially if you are the center star for an investigative report. Large media organizations, like NBC, CBS, the New York Post, do fear litigation if you have the ability to sue or ignite any underground campaign against the news agency.

Adding more scandal to editorial decision-making, the rumor inside most newsrooms is that the legal team gets a bonus if their news organization is not sued during the year. If that allegation is true, you can bet many people inside of the news organization have an invested interest in making sure you are not slandered.

So the next time you are on the negative end of a story, just remember, you do have an opportunity to give your side of the story. While the power of the ink is still with the media, businesses or people with money will grow in clout if they threaten to fight back from any negative news story.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the crisis 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

Use PR to Drive Holiday Sales

MaciasPR has just published a holiday guidebook for businesses trying to increase their holiday sales, titled: Publicity During the Holiday Season: How to Use PR to Increase Holiday Sales.

The PR guidebook written by media insider, Mark Macias, reveals tactics he learned during his career as a journalist, writer, producer and Executive Producer with the news organizations NBC, CBS, KTVK, King World Productions and the Arizona Republic.

Consumers can download the PR guidebook for free by clicking here.

The guidebook, Publicity during the Holiday Season, identifies 5-tactics business owners should apply when trying to get the media to cover their business. The guidebook elaborates on the following tactics:

Identify your Story Narrative

A good story idea will drive coverage in any market. Many business owners have a misconception that who you know is better than what you know. This section of the guidebook explains why a creative idea is more valuable than a reporter contact in the world of journalism and PR. The guidebook also gives business owners tips on how to identify a timely narrative for the holiday season.

Pitch the Ignored Reporters

Every newsroom has reporters or writers who never get the plush assignments. These may be journalists working weekends or the overnight shifts. In many situations, these are the best reporters to pitch since they have the most to gain from your good idea. This section of the guidebook explains how to come up with unconventional pitches for these reporters.

Identify your Holiday Gimmick

If you want to stand out at a holiday party, revelers need something to push you above the crowd. It’s no different with the media during the busy holiday season. This section of the guidebook teaches entrepreneurs and business owners how to identify a gimmick for coverage.

Establish Credibility with the Media

This section of the guidebook explains how business owners can position themselves as “experts” in their industry, leading to potential publicity. But before a business owner tries to position himself as an expert, he or she must first establish credibility in the community. This section reveals how business owners can establish credibility.

Preparing for the Interview

If the first four tactics are executed properly, the chances are higher that a reporter will be interested in your holiday story. But now what? Is your business prepared for the media coverage? This section of the guidebook explains how to prepare for the reporter interview.

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

 

 

 

PR Case Study on Credibility

By Mark Macias

It was all over the news. Amazon would soon start delivering products using drones to deliver products. Even established news organizations, like 60 Minutes, reported on it.

Don’t believe the hype or near-term predictions. It was all part of a flawless PR plan executed perfectly by Amazon.

The drone story wasn’t about reinventing the delivery system for Amazon. It was about Amazon creating a strong, intriguing narrative and backing it up with substance.

This makes for a great case study on credibility that you can apply to your own business. But first, a quick personal story.

Jeff Bezos understands the media intuitively, and I first learned that back in 1999 when I was a producer with NBC in Miami. I pitched a profile story on the young, unknown entrepreneur from Miami Palmetto High School. At the time, Bezos was beginning to shake up Wall Street with strong predictions on his company would revolutionize retail.

His hype worked and the stock skyrocketed.

It’s no different with PR. A strong statement usually gets covered but it first needs to have credibility.

Lesson One: Establish Credibility with PR

Every media campaign needs a credible narrative because without credibility, the media won’t cover your story. If you’re a portfolio manager for a hedge fund and you want to get on CNBC, you better have an established record. Likewise, if you’re running for City Council, you need a plan that is believable and possible or the local reporters won’t write about you.

Amazon has proven itself over the years so credibility has already been established. Did you know earlier this summer, Dominoes Pizza unveiled the same “drone delivery” platform? But guess what – you probably didn’t hear about it because Dominoes Pizza doesn’t have the credible track record of Amazon. If you’re going to make a bold claim, make sure you have the operations or history to back it up.

Lesson Two: Build Suspense

60 Minutes rarely buys into hype. They don’t need to create hype because it is an established program with the best journalists. But in the case with Amazon, if you watch the segment (click here to watch video) you will see how Amazon was able to build suspense for the drone unveiling. 60 Minutes opened their show with that unveiling to bring in viewers – proof that suspense works.

Lesson Three: Identify a Gimmick that Reinforces Your Services

The drone delivery unveiling was a brilliant strategic media move for Amazon because it reinforces its delivery service. But this isn’t about drones and Amazon changing the way books and clothes are delivered to our homes. This isn’t about customer service or delivery becoming more efficient. This was about an idea that every consumer wants to believe. It’s a page from the Jetsons.

This doesn’t mean you should create a gimmick that is not true. At its root, I’m sure Amazon and Jeff Bezos believe drones do have an opportunity to change the way products are delivered. Your gimmick should inspire but have a root of reality.

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

 

How to Pitch a News Story

By Mark Macias

Most publicists typically take the same approach when it comes to pitching stories, but in many ways, you will have more success by reaching out to a writer who is not the first choice that comes to mind.

For example, if you are trying to get a fashion story in a magazine, most publicists would rightfully pitch a style or fashion writer first. However, you can increase your chances for coverage by expanding the story with an angle that reaches an unconventional writer.

Pitch Beyond the Stereotype

Take the example of the profile story on a fashion designer. Could the story angle include an athletic angle? Sports reporters are always pitched ideas on high school coaches and athletes, but they aren’t always pitched angles on athletic fashion trends for women. Of course you should always concentrate your pitch on the desired audience, but make sure you look beyond the stereotype. Your story idea or client will stand out if you can find that unconventional angle that others haven’t pursued.

And remember, there is nothing wrong with pitching a conventional story the conventional way. But if you find no one is biting on your story ideas, take a moment to review your idea from a different angle. You might find unconventional is the new conventional. Want to learn more strategies on getting your product or service on the news? You can read more at PRHelp.co

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 or MarketYourFund.com