Itâ€™s become the antidote to the shrinking newsroomâ€”throngs of freelance journalists covering stories ranging from business to industry-specific articles.Â This growing trend has disrupted theÂ journalism landscape, where editors still need to cover the 24/7 news cycle with relevant, in-depthÂ content without the expense of a full bench of staff reporters.
While a bit haphazard when freelancers arenâ€™t 100% familiar with their coverage topics,Â the new dynamic has improved publicationsâ€™ content and offered fresh perspectives. Why? EditorsÂ are stillÂ serving as outletsâ€™ editorial leaders and determining the direction of stories, but there are now more flexibleÂ reporterÂ options. Also, freelance journalists can hone their expertise in multiple areasÂ and apply it across relevantÂ publications, giving them more consistent and predictable work as well as requiring high-quality reporting to generate follow-onÂ assignments.
From a public relations perspective, weâ€™ve certainly broadened our media relationships to include more freelance journalists, while alsoÂ maintaining existing relationships with publications’ editorsÂ and on-staff reporters. It has become the new normal of media relations. And while this hybridÂ approach to journalism may have risen as a means for media outlets to survive, it has also givenÂ journalism new branches to evolve forward as a profession.
*This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark newsletter.
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For many journalists, embargoed news releases represent an advance preview of critical news before an announcement hits the wire. Typically, they offer reporters additional time to process the news, gather additional research, schedule interviews and write their stories to be ready to publish the day the news becomes public. While not all news announcements warrant an embargo, we utilize the approach for important corporate news and often even lengthier product announcements. However, it isnâ€™t as easy as blasting out an embargoed release to your entire media list.
Some reporters do not honor embargoed releases because they view them as a challenge to their news writing process and prefer to cover the news once it is live. Separately, many tech media outlets and blogs will not honor embargoes as a way to avoid the competitive back and forth and habitual embargo breaking that was commonplace in the technology blog world not too long ago (See TechCrunchâ€™s Lyft example here).
However, there are other reporters who wonâ€™t cover an announcement if they do not receive the information in advance, proving that knowing reportersâ€™ newsgathering and writing styles is important. This upfront work is paramount to navigating embargoes and building strong relationships with the media. Respecting those preferences will go a long way in helping your company or client achieve successful and ongoing media coverage.
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In just a few short days, Chipotle will close its doors for a day in hopes of quelling fears by consumers that its food isnâ€™t safe and most importantly regain lost revenue – dropped nearly 7 percent in Q1 2016 – and customer loyalty. While undoubtedly a PR move by senior execs and its advising agency and internal communications team, the food safety day announcement in mid-January – nearly a month prior to the actual closing day – was mishandled from the start. Iâ€™ve read countless articles where the media and the 24/7 news cycle was blamed for the negative press, but in truth it was the PR team and management that bungled what should have been a positive event. Headline after headline declared that Chipotle was shuttering its stores yet failed to mention just for a day. The fast food burrito giant mismanaged its communications crisis by burying the lead and then overlooking critical crisis management steps.
And hereâ€™s why: 1) Accept responsibility for the issue – and apologize. Not in the press release or any of the interviews, did the co-owners or communications leads apologize for the issue. 2) Announce all of the steps to be taken to rectify a very serious situation. While announcing a food safety employee day should be a positive, what about all the other steps involved in making Chipotle a safe and healthy place to dine? 3) Communicate quickly to get ahead of the news cycle. I appreciate that it might take a week or so to develop plans for a food safety day, but why wait nearly a month from the announcement to host it? What about the days leading up to the day – are the employees properly trained and is my burrito bowl safe to eat on February 6?
In the age where people move on to the next crisis like a dog gets sidetracked with a squirrel, a few best practices could have severely improved Chipotleâ€™s position with its customers and its bottom line. For the record, I am still frequenting the chain and enjoying the shorter lines.
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While there are many traditions worth following, Iâ€™ve noticed that the practice of proclaiming New Yearâ€™s resolutions often sets people up for failure. They get overlyÂ excited about something and quickly commit before thoroughly thinking through what is actually required to deliver. Case in point, the influx into fitness gyms during theÂ first two weeks of January, followed by a mass exodus by mid-February.
The same issue crops up in business, for example, when executives set pie-in-the-sky goals toÂ improve on last yearâ€™s results without proper planning. Thatâ€™s not to say that setting goals is a poor idea; in fact the opposite is true. However, the key lies in the executionÂ – here are a few thoughts to consider when setting goals for the year.
â€”Â Focus on the Motivation: What is actually driving your goals? You may want to improve customer satisfaction by a certain percentage by Q2 2016, but considerÂ evaluating your current benchmarks to determine why it needs improvement. Are there specific issues with your product, customer service reps or corporateÂ communication processes that need addressing? Focusing on the â€śwhyâ€ť will help your team develop meaningful goals that will move the needle in driving success for theÂ whole company.
â€”Â Donâ€™t Go It Alone: Make sure to rally the troops before putting a stake in the ground. Securing team-wide accountability and support for a major goal is necessary forÂ meeting all the milestones that lead up to the big results. Also take the time to clearly communicate goals internally before sharing them with external parties – this willÂ help avoid alienating employees and give them a greater sense of team in approaching objectives.
â€”Â Plan for Follow-Through: Sure, setting goals makes people feel good, but the follow-through is often hard work. Approaching the goal-setting process with aÂ healthy dose of realism is vital. Develop a solid plan that accounts for all steps required to move forward, including determining metrics and benchmarks that will proveÂ you were successful when you deliver results.
Ultimately it can serve us well to set resolutions to move forward in both our personal and business lives – it helps us stay focused and organized with our eyes on theÂ prize. And in business, the exercise works particularly well for unifying multiple individuals to collaborate toward a specific vision. Wishing our clients, friends andÂ readers a successful 2016â€¦and may your resolutions come to fruition!
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As we all sprint to the proverbial finish line â€“ to the end of the year and holidays â€“ it is a good time for a reminder to take time to disconnect. Put the phones and devices away, forget about the To-Do lists, status updates and other social media documentation and give yourself, your family and friends the gift of being present and reconnecting. It is time to reflect on 2015, recharge and reset before the grind restarts on Jan. 4. Do these things and you wonâ€™t regret it. Plus, you will be ready to take 2016 by storm. Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us at Young & Associates. We wish you health, happiness and much success!
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In a story that sounded too good to be true, Dan Price, CEO of credit card processing company Gravity Payments, announced in April that he would equalize all salaries to a minimum of $70,000 a year. He also planned to cut his own $1.1 million salary. A media circus soon kicked off and Price appeared on 25+ TV shows and in mainstream news, including The Today Show and Good Morning America, speaking to the benefits of leveling employee pay.
A lawsuit filed by Priceâ€™s brother, Gravity Payments co-founder Lucas Price, has raised the question of whether this was a true act of kindness or a ploy to gain quick celebrity status. The jury is still out, but what is clear is that due diligence wasnâ€™t done prior to making the â€śgroundbreakingâ€ť decision. Now the company is left trying to figure out how to implement the policy and dealing with employee and customer backlash.
Raising a cautionary tale, the Gravity Payments story spotlights the negative consequences of going too far for 15 minutes of fame.
**This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark Newsletter
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Companies often strive for media placements in premier national and industry trade publications, but what about vertical market coverage?
Widening yourÂ media outreachÂ to include key verticals can showcase specific, in-depth expertise and how your organization differentiates itself in select markets.
However, approaching vertical press often requires a different approach to grab journalistsâ€™ attention and garner ink. Following are some tips:
Address Industry Nuances
Donâ€™t underestimate the importance of industry particulars and priorities. Take the time to go beyond generic advice by demonstrating how your insights apply directly to businesses in the specific categoryâ€”forÂ example, addressing key pain points or best practices.
Format and Timing Matters
Industry trade media often utilize different article formats, requiring a tailored approach to secure coverage. For example, some outlets do not cover breaking news or product announcements and others haveÂ specific guidelines for accepting byline pieces. Additionally, many trades require longer lead times.
Highlighting anecdotal examples of customers facing the issue youâ€™re addressing in a particular industry will further credentialize your organizationâ€™s thought leaders by demonstrating the knowledge of both yourÂ core expertise as well as the industry itself.
*This post originally appeared in Y&Aâ€™s Spark Newsletter.
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Iâ€™ve seen countless articles and social posts marking the real date when Doc Brown and Marty McFly traveled 30 years to the future inÂ Back to the Future II.Â Heck,Â USA TodayÂ even recreated the front pageÂ used in the film as part of a wrap-around supplement today. Since the film trilogy was my favorite growingÂ up, I couldnâ€™t resist posting one too.
From a technology perspective, the movie introduced some innovative concepts that have actually come to fruition in one way or another. Thanks to the ever-evolving community of tech start-ups and larger entities alike, things like self-service touch screens in restaurants and biometric security to access buildingsÂ (or iPhones) are now integral to mainstream business and personal life. It also showed us the concept of flying dog-walking drones through Martyâ€™sÂ neighborhood and another when Biff was arrested after crashing into the clocktower on his souped-up hoverboard.
Additionally, the movie eerily predicted accurate consumer preferences of the future, including societyâ€™s demand for a personalized and multi-screenÂ experience that offers entertainment, business and personal communications abilities (remember Martyâ€™s multi-screen office where he effectivelyÂ â€śFacetimesâ€ť with Needles?).
The combination of these concepts has led to the real October 21, 2015 reflecting elements that also existed in the movieâ€”including business trends like 24/7Â real-time data access from anywhere and 3D modeling across a multitude of industries. While we may not yet have self-sizing clothing, the concept of “right-sizing” has clearly been applied to everything from software and consulting services to cloud computing.
Iâ€™m personally still waiting for the flying cars but canâ€™t say Iâ€™m disappointed with the level of uncanny accuracy that the movie delivered. However, theyÂ somehow thought weâ€™d still be using fax machines. Those, I think, we can do without.
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The weather is cooling down in many parts of the country, but in many cases PR activities are heating up for organizations. A strong PR push in Q4 can help companies achieve their overall 2015 corporate and marketing objectives and end the year on a positive note.Â
Revisit the plan: We all get caught up in the day-to-day, but take time to review your overall 2015 PR plan. What goals have you been able to reach and where are the shortcomings? Whether it be increased thought leadership, strong brand awareness or another effort, ramp up activities as necessary to help you meet those objectives prior to the end of the year.
Measure impact: Examine specific PR deliverables and coordinating results to clearly demonstrate how the PR program has made an impact. This will help show the value of PR to your organizationâ€™s senior team. You can also make any needed adjustments to goals, targeted audiences, and tactics, as you get ready to prepare your 2016 plan.
Tune in to Reporterâ€™s End of Year Needs: Q4 marks the period when reporters are working on end of year wrap-up stories and New Year trend articles. Make sure you are pushing out your subject matter experts to comment on these stories to create the most visibility for your organization as Q4 closes.
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