Six ways PR professionals can (and should) ‘think like a journalist’

As a young kid, I felt I was destined to be a journalist. I wrote family newsletters and questionable short stories. I scored the editor-in-chief spot on the high school newspaper staff and eventually made my way to the college newsroom. But my career led me elsewhere, and I’ve spent nearly a decade working on the “dark side” of the media, as some (unfortunately) say.

 

While I may not be reporting or a big-time magazine editor, working with media is one of the primary responsibilities of my job. And, the truth is that media jobs and PR jobs are far more similar than we’re led to believe. From crafting captivating story ideas and writing compelling content to interviewing sources and maintaining a strong social media presence, the core skills of a journalist translate well onto the PR side of tracks (and vice versa).

So, let’s explore how basic journalistic practices apply to public relations.

 

Here are six ways we can “think like journalists” in our day-to-day roles as PR professionals:

 

Avoid selling and start (story)telling.

Journalists are quick to dismiss stories that seem too sales-y, and rightfully so. Similarly, as PR professionals, our first goal is storytelling, not selling. Sure, we need to include facts and figures, the “5 W’s,” and so on; however, these are just the building blocks and baselines to our content.

 

As storytellers, we must paint a picture, stir emotion and change behavior through words. Include extra details that weave in the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. How many people were at the event? What did the chef’s award-winning dish really taste like? What sights and sounds overtook the banquet hall at the convention?

 

Help the audience visualize. The best content is rich with details that will hook readers and give them more than just a compilation of facts and quotes.

 

Know what’s newsworthy.

Generally, there are five key elements to newsworthiness: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest. These apply across all kinds of content, not just media stories.

 

Is there a timely element? What does the article do for your audience? Is the topic close enough (geographically or otherwise) to your readers to pique interest? Why should people care? And, how does the story appeal to the audience’s emotions?

 

If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, you’re not ready to tell the story.

 

Understand your audience.

Who are your customers? Who are your clients? And, who are the ideal readers of the story you’re hoping to tell? Be it a media hit, customer case study, blog post or e-newsletter, you must always know your audience and why they will want to read what you have to say. Spend some time carefully defining who you want to reach and figuring out their interests and behaviors. Then, and only then, can you truly reach them.

 

Research and verify.

All good stories are based on facts, and citing data will build trust with audiences and reporters alike.

From writing a media pitch, a white paper or a thought leadership article to compiling a media list or competitive analysis, research is always the first and most important step.

 

Who are your sources? Is there a study that supports your claim? What is the reporter’s beat? Is the reporter still writing for that outlet? What articles have already been written on the topic?

 

Ask yourself question after question until you’ve exhausted your options. Then, once you’ve compiled the information you need, review it, digest it and verify it. Double-check your facts and vet your sources.

 

We can’t be lazy. Someone will always know.

 

Strategically structure your writing.

There are a lot of facts, but there is only one story. As storytellers, journalists and PR pros must guide our audiences to the story. It’s our job to sift through piles of information and find the true purpose of the story. It’s also our job to tell it.

 

The most common method of writing structure is using the pyramid model. Your most important and most interesting content belongs at the very top of the pyramid. Since we only have mere seconds before our audience moves on, it makes sense to arrange writing from most important to least important, in case the reader jumps ship halfway through.

 

In addition to the order of our writing, PR pros can take another page from a journalist’s book by always thinking about campaigns and content in a broader sense. How can we take this one step further? Does this inspire a graphic or video? How many ways can we repurpose this to create more compelling content and reach more people? The sky can be the limit.

 

Mind the details.

Details matter and not just the details of the story (refer back to “Avoid selling and start (story)telling”). Just as journalists are expected to do, PR professionals are expected to heavily proofread their work. Names, titles, punctuation, dates, capitalization, attributions, AP Style… even formatting matters. It’s our job to be precise and represent not only ourselves well, but our clients well.

 

Journalism and storytelling are as old as mankind, and the basics of both are the same for us PR pros no matter the objective or the audience. By honing some journalism skills, you can craft stories and PR campaigns that resonate with the right people.

 

Can we help tell your story? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to explore what Dittoe PR could do for you.

Tips for Responding to Customer Feedback on Social Media

Maintaining a presence on social media allows brands to connect with consumers on a more personal level and participate in online discussions related to their products, industry and more. With 81 percent of Americans actively using social media and more than 58 percent of users engaging with brands one to three times per day, it’s clear that consumers prefer to communicate with brands online.

 

Regardless of the engagements sentiment, when customers engage with your brand online, it is important to make them feel heard. There are a number of ways to respond to customer feedback on social media, so we’ve outlined a few tips to help:

 

Respond in real time.

Consistently monitoring your brands social media accounts will allow for quick action. Some platforms, like Facebook, even show users what your brands average response time is to encourage brands to monitor in real time.

 

If a customer reaches out with feedback via social media, a response should be posted – whether it be liking the comment, responding in kind, or assisting to escalate a customer service issue – within 24 hours at the most.

 

Personalize.

The last thing a customer wants is to just feel like their voice is not being heard. When responding to engagements online, personalize your response as much as possible to show your appreciation for their feedback.

 

If you’re using a bot to respond to customer service messages, be sure to follow up with a personal note to make sure the issue has been resolved.

 

Maintain a brand presence.

Does your brand have a team of social media responders? If so, it’s necessary to outline approved responses and provide employees with a brand guide. This will help to present a uniform face to customers, while still allowing your brand to engage naturally online.

 

If you don’t have brand guidelines established, revisit your social media strategy and reference any key messages outlined.

 

Take it offline.

When responding to negative comments online, brand should remember not to dwell on the negative, but to treat the feedback as an opportunity to grow. Ask the customer to send a direct message through the platform by which they originally engaged your brand. This will allow you to troubleshoot, ask for personal information, and more without leaving the platform.

 

Offer a solution.

There will always be people you just can’t please. And that’s okay as long as your brand is actively working toward a solution with its customers! Ensure that your team is offering uniform solutions and staying on brand when resolving customer service issues.

 

Need help building a strategy that works for your brand? Contact Lauryn Gray, lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today!

Now Accepting Applications for Public Relations Fall Internship 2018

If you’re interested in experiencing PR agency life and gaining real-world knowledge and experience, then Dittoe Public Relations may be the place for you! We’re hiring public relations interns for fall 2018, and we want you to apply! This internship is paid and part-time or full-time options are available.

 

Here’s what you need to know:

Dittoe PR interns are responsible for assisting with the execution of strategic public relations and social media initiatives and contributing to the success of the firm’s clients. Interns will be mentored by intern directors and work closely with the firm’s entire staff, from account coordinators to the company’s partners.

 

This internship is for detail-oriented, self-starters looking to develop a well-rounded public relations skillset in an energetic and challenging environment. The ideal candidate should have strong communication skills (both verbal and written), initiative, and creativity, as well as feel comfortable juggling multiple projects and deadlines. Key tasks will focus on media relations, research and analysis, reporting, content creation, and more.

 

Sampling of responsibilities:

  • Drafting compelling content such as press releases, media pitches, social media posts, and more
  • Carrying out special event planning tasks
  • Participating in agency meetings, training sessions, and brainstorming sessions
  • Handling research and analysis projects in support of client objectives as needed
  • Researching comprehensive press lists for local, national, and trade media
  • Contributing to the execution of media relations campaigns
  • Assisting with client and business projects as needed
  • Assisting with administrative duties as assigned by staff

 

Key qualifications:

  • Actively enrolled in or a recent graduate of a university journalism, public relations, strategic communications, marketing, advertising, or other related program
  • Previous professional or relevant internship experience (public relations experience is a plus)
  • An understanding of basic journalism and media relations skills
  • Solid, versatile writing skills in both creative and technical fields
  • An ability to be professional and personable in written and verbal communication
  • Demonstrates attention to detail and good judgment
  • Smart, creative, assertive, and innovative individual who thrives in a fast-paced environment
  • Flexible and willing to collaborate with teams
  • Proven ability to effectively prioritize and manage multiple tasks and competing deadlines
  • Additional knowledge in social media, design, photography/videography are a plus

 

To apply, send a cover letter, resume with references, and three diverse writing samples to Greta Snell at greta [at] dittoepr.com. No phone calls please. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, July 15.

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