The Best Ways to Prepare for Crisis Publicity Situations

Handling your company publicity

Know what to do before it happens

Although you might believe this will never happen to you, I’m sure Donald Sterling and Brian Williams had that same thought until it happened to them.

There are a few basic things you can do now to prepare for a crisis situation with your company, or you personally. Having a  PR Marketing Strategy isn’t enough to prepare you for a negative situation. These four steps are designed to get you to think and are a good basis to create your crisis plan.

Think of any possible threats you or your company may face. It is impossible to predict if someone says a racial slur, or make up a news story, it is still important to have a proactive strategy when it comes to a crisis management situation.

Once you have identified these threats, develop a response matrix for each and every potential threat you listed. The worksheet should have strategies to help minimize damage and identify any key personnel who will develop and deliver the response to the media. It is ok to have a publicity person, but you or someone you assign should be the primary contact, not a pr person.

This is the time to get an attorney involved. If your company has an attorney, discuss with your legal counsel the statements written to get their approval. Make it easy on yourself; develop each potential situation with a statement that has easy-to-fill-in placeholders. When a crisis happens, this will allow you to be responsive quickly to the media. Plus, it will tell the media you are willing to address the situation vs hiding from it.

Ok, I did say that step # 1 was probably one of the most difficult, but this might be as difficult if you are a person who doesn’t like to take blame, or always points the finger at other people. When confronted by the media, be straightforward and remember these 5 NEVERS:

• Never Lie
• Never Speculate
• Never Lose Your Temper or Swear
• Never Say “No Comment”
• Never Lose Eye Contact

Are you a “talker?” Do you not know when to stop speaking because you want to make sure your point is

Have a crisis plan

Prepare for negative publicity

noticed? It’s time to break those habits and listen closely if so. Think in short 30-second sound bites. Have your three most important messages memorized. Don’t try to explain your entire side of the story. Use carefully worded messages when speaking to the media. It is ok to pause and collect your thoughts before talking.

Being prepared can minimize any negative impact or unfavorable situation and keep you from humiliating yourself or your company. To learn more about preparing for a pr crisis situation in your company, give George Carson a call, before it’s too late!

Local publicity can bring increase sales and awareness

Your publicity campaign should include local publicity media. This could be an Orange County publicity campaign, or a local media publication, such as the LA or OC Business Journals. Some local publicity is targeted to a specific audience, suchlocal and regional publicity as Children’s Resource Directory, which goes to all the Orange County outlets. It’s designed to help parents in this region find good sources for their children, whether it be about child upbringing, health issues, or the arts (music, dance, etc).

PR clients need to stay in touch with their local community programs. It is one method to gain local publicity. Although the rewards may not be immediate, you will see an increase in loyal customers.  Another method is to distribute press releases in your local publications. This is just one form of building a solid local publicity campaign. The Internet now offers a wide variety of web sites to further build upon this local branding campaign. Many of the local community publications have on-line web sites. In addition; you can find many regional and local sites that target your specific market.

So the next time you begin to plan your publicity campaign, be sure to have local publicity as part of the overall program. We have found this to be very rewarding for many of our clients. Especially now when pr clients are looking for ways to increase sales, but maintain a tight budget. If your publicity campaign needs some local direction, give George Carson a call. His Carson Marketing, Inc company has the expertise to get your company noticed which in turn will create more customers.

Measuring Your Traffic

Media can also be part of your traffic

Companies are always trying to justify the amount of traffic they get to their web site. And too often, CEO’s blame the lack of sales to the web site and that the amount of traffic is not being converted, so therefore, they cancel the web marketing or the web site entirely.

What about the traffic that visits to learn about your company or product? Don’t they have any value to your company?

Did you ever think that these visitors might be some of the media?

Measuring the brand awarness is someting new and most people are not familiar on how to go about measuring this cyberspace media.

In my quest to help my clients better track, or measure their web site, I recommend that they consider looking into SEM Director. I found this by viewing another blogger in our industry called BRITOPIAN Marketing. He has some good stuff to say. Check his views. I usually recommend people read other points of view on these types of topics, this helps to better understand how valuable it is to market your site and how to incorporate publicity into this mix.

It should go unsaid, but companies have this wall between the marketing departments and the publicity people. Even if you use an outside pr firm, I see a lot of non-communication with the publicity firm and the other marketing people. My guess is no one is willing to share their "secrets" in fear of not getting credit. That my friends is what causes companies to slip in market share.

I also read something of interest from Mr. Brito. He talks about the 6C’s. It is a good way to describe the different areas of marketing. He refers to them as:

  • Customer
  • Consistency
  • Creativity
  • Culture
  • Communication
  • Change

If you want to know more about these categories, give me a call. I’ll be happy to send you his article on them.
Call me at: 949-477-9400, or just send me an email at
Put in the subject– Article for the 6C’s.

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How To Structure Your Press Releases

Good structure makes a difference

publicity structureNot all press releases written by professional publicity people or pr clients follow the standard rules for press release structure. This can affect the chances of your release being read, or even published.

Remember, reporters and publishers all have a lot to do, and looking over hundreds of releases a week requires streamlining their time. So if you get too wild with your release structure, you might just get overlooked.

A web site called publicity advisor, gives some good structural advice to help those wanting to get noticed with the media much easier. I know that if you have a good relationship with a specific reporter or media contact that you can break many rules in publicity. But that is limited in your viewpoint, because not every person remains in one place. When visiting the site, you may think, I know this stuff. Ok, maybe you know "most" of it. But are you practicing it?

For example are you aware of this: “If your news release contains a local news angle, putting information about where should be giving high priority at the top. Also try to get your company name as close to the top as possible. This will decrease the chance that they’ll "chop" your company name out of their news coverage, and increase the chance that you get publicity with your release”. That’s just one suggestion in the advice offered. I recommend you go through all the information before making a judgment. You just might uncover something new to help the next release get more attention.

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Let Reporters Find You

Publicity 101

How many times have you or a pr client tried to contact a customer about an important issuekeeping the press informed only to realize they are out of town? Wasted time? Maybe. More than that is the frustration of not reaching that person.

Now imagine a reporter, editor, or publisher trying to contact you, but you were unavailable. Maybe you were at a trade show, or at a new business meeting, or in a seminar, or just traveling.

At first you would think, hey, they’ll leave a message. Not really. These are reporters who have deadlines to meet. They will pass you up and go to the next person on their list.

How do you avoid loosing the call? Simple, leave a voice message on your phone that says, "if you are a reporter or from the press, please call me at (leave a cell phone number), or leave your number and I’ll call back within a couple of hours.

Make sure that you check your office voice mail messages frequently. And if it is your cell phone that you give to the press, be sure to check that message box often as well.

Being available to the press for a story that you are pitching is extremely important. The media works on their time, not yours. Keeping this in mind should make your pr clients realize that positive publicity can only be accomplished when you make yourself available to the press.

What you should not do is send emails of your schedule to the media. That is a waste of time and the reporters are not your secretaries, so respect them and not bother these media people with nonsense emails.

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Make Your Web Site Visitor Friendly

Some call it Microcontent

What good is having a strong publicity campaign if your web site is poorly designed, or difficult to navigate.

Even a good publicity professional can do only so much to generate traffic to a pr clients web site. It is then up to your business web site to make customers feel good about the product or service.

What makes your site better than your competitor’s?
Several things. It can be the graphics, the text, the images, and the ease of navigation, among other things.

For this lesson, I want to discuss the content of the site. One writer, Ann Wylie, has an article that explains the "Microcontent" of a web site. Basically she divides the topic into several sections:

  • What is Microcontent and what it includes

  • Why it is important

Ann gives some good advice on what to do, and not do when building the content. When you use these tips, it will be helpful to your existing customers, potential customers, and above all, the media will praise it. Editors and writers will find things easily. This will bring a positive view because the good content will be easily understood.

In the article, advice includes these areas that are needed for Microcontent, such as:

  • Page Titles
  • Navigation Bars
  • Headlines
  • Subheads
  • Highlighted Text
  • and many other sections

A good example of why illustrates when you do a “search, find and save” and it is now in your bookmark. Then when you want to go back a few days or weeks later, the bookmark reads “Welcome to XYZ Corporation”, or “Untitled Page”. I’m sure you experienced this and clicked several bookmarks before finding the site you were looking for. And if you are like me, you can’t find it quickly, and decide to do another search.

So think about making your site more pleasing to visitors. It is good publicity for you and your company.

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How To Get More Exposure Without Increasing The Budget

Publicity and Media Buying

We all know that publicity can generate good sales, and most of all establish a positive image/branding.

So why do so many advertisers, primarily the big companies, spend thousands on wasted media. Wasted media? Let me explain my definition of wasted media money.

We all know the publication industry makes money from its advertising. And the most costly ad placements within publications are the back cover, inside covers and specified placement.

Take this test. Pick one of your favorite magazines. It doesn’t matter what industry, the example will apply. Turn the first page. See the inside cover? It is probably facing another full-page ad, right? Or the ad is a spread. Now turn the page again. Another full-page ad, with another facing ad!

This can go on for 5 to 6 pages, or more until you get to the contents page. Now imagine, these advertisers all paid a premium to be in the front, especially the company that bought the inside cover.

Most consumers open the magazine to find the table of contents to see what interesting articles to read. So as you open the magazine, you skip all those colorful ads, and spreads. The winner is the advertiser who bought the placement next to or across the contents page.

The other smart media buyers are those who bought space next to articles, or within an article.

Imagine, if the company that paid a premium would have bought the space next to an article and put the savings into the publicity campaign, the results would be greater all around!

I’m probably going to get hate mail from publishers, but the reality is that the inside covers no longer get viewer ship or create leads as they did 20 years ago. In my book, it is money wasted. Spend more with the publicity and see the positive results.

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What’s New In Marketing?

PR needs to watch this new media

We are in a fast moving world that sees changes on a daily basis. Once we learn of a new technology, or a new media like blogging, we are quickly discovering another media. This time it is "Viral Marketing’.

As usual this new form has been embraced and popular among young web people. It is the video content that anyone with a cheap video camera and some editing equipment, will post onto a web site. This is not just a fad. Tens of thousands of videos are already in the ultimate Short Attention Span Theatre. These will range from the bizarre of car crashes and Jackass-like stunts to musical performances by classic rockers.

In a business environment, there is gold at the end for them. For example, you are already seeing how this new media is creeping into our homes by the TV commercials from MasterCard. I am sure you noticed their new TV spots that invite consumers to fill-in the blanks on their "Priceless" campaign.

There will soon be more high profile companies using this approach in their ad campaigns.

Another popular viral video that has become one of the hottest is YouTube, based in San Mateo, CA. Last April the YouTube had averaged 6.6 million unique viewers a month. That shows you the power this phenomenon is having. Several other exisit like iFilm. Just type the words into Google and see what comes up.

How does this relate to publicity and your public relations campaign? Well, if you do this right, you can probably get some great publicity for your pr client, or your own company by doing something unique using viral video. I suggest doing something that is legal, otherwise the publicity you get from the press and other media will not be what you hoped for.

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Make Networking Work For You

People Knowing People

Publicity is basically the networking of people. Whether they are reporters, publishers, editors or broadcasters, you need to communicate with people.

When your network grows among the media, the more people you meet, the better opportunities you have in getting the story published.

If you are a professional publicity agency, or a pr client, then you need to make your network becomes a priority when establishing  your contacts. If you are in a vertical market, then your task is much easier. If you are in a more general consumer market, then you need to be more selective on the media that you network with. Why? Because you can’t expect to have a very large network and stay in contact without giving them nonsense stories. These people are just that, people. Just like you, they too do not like being sent stories or releases that try to sell a product or a company. Make the content be informative, something that their readers will enjoy.

Another tip, you don’t want to oversell your company, or your pr clients. Too much selling, or pitching, is like the salesman who doesn’t know when to stop selling. Your network of media can become a friendly one. Not meaning a social thing. Why? Because getting too close to the media as a social group puts you in a different perspective. Then they, the media, feel you are only getting their attention to get stories published. Keep your relationship professional.

I saw a journalist who has an article about this subject and offers some other interesting insights that expand on my thoughts. Basically, be honest, keep in contact with your network through eNewsletters, and follow-up as needed.

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