Will you accept this rose? How to grow budding journalist relationships

For PR professionals, developing relationships with journalists is like a fine wine or a waltz. If done correctly, great success is achieved. But when it’s handled poorly, it can knock you off your feet, spilling the red wine all down […]


23 Jul
by Aspectus PR

PR journlists media relationsFor PR professionals, developing relationships with journalists is like a fine wine or a waltz. If done correctly, great success is achieved. But when it’s handled poorly, it can knock you off your feet, spilling the red wine all down the front of your formal waltzing attire.

At Aspectus PR, we pride ourselves on establishing sound relationships with the media. It’s crucial for our clients and for our business.

In the following, we’ve listed five top tips for cultivating connections with reporters on behalf of your clients:

1. Keep it simple
Do you ever have those moments of panic, nausea, and/or blurred vision when you receive what seems like a Charles Dickens-length email in your inbox? Keeping pitches tight and concise can be inversely correlated to your success with the media. The longer and more mundane your email is, the less inclined the journalist will be to respond. Be snappy with the news or storyline, relate it back to the particular writer’s beat and why it’s interesting to them, and elaborate a tad. (There’s no need to list out everything you had to eat that day or the names of your last three pets.)

2. Reporters aren’t robots, and neither are you
It’s important to be professional when building rapport with the media, but that doesn’t mean you have to sound like a robot. A little bit of friendly reporter/PR banter can be healthy for a budding relationship. If you find out they were out of the office on vacation, it’s perfectly normal to ask them how their trip was and where they went. Finding connections through hobbies and interests like travel can propel your relationship forward with that reporter, and they’ll be more inclined to discuss your pitches in the future.

3. “If you build it, they will come”
Though we’re referencing the iconic quote from the hit 1989 movie Field of Dreams, we aren’t recommending that a strong journalist relationship means that you plow down a bunch of corn crops in the middle of Iowa to build a baseball diamond. Instead, help journalists hone their story. If they liked your pitch, build out the story with commentary from industry analysts or talking clients. The power of being able to provide multiple sources is not lost on a media guru.

4. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.
Connecting with journalists isn’t done just through emails, phone calls and drinks anymore. Reach out to them in the social media universe, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. More often than not, journalists will be commentating on beat-related topics, but their posts might also give you an inside track as to where their next story is coming from. Helping to craft a story off of their recent observations made through social media is organic and less rigid than the traditional way of building out a relationship through emails and phone calls – and you avoid the risk of your pitch getting lost in their inbox.

5. What’s the magic word?
A simple “thank you” can go a long way. Journalists often take time out of their day to conduct interviews, travel to a meet and greet, and attend events held by your clients. Sending a quick email to acknowledge this shows you appreciate them devoting time to you and your client. In a world where PR pros are constantly in action, niceties are critical to maintaining a pleasant relationship with the media.

The above tips don’t necessarily mean that you’ll instantly accelerate your relationships with journalists as if you were on The Bachelorette (although what better way to bond than to hang glide off of a mountaintop and land in a field of roses where you are greeted immediately by champagne and caviar?). Time plays a factor in harvesting these connections. If you remain friendly, professional, and take a few of the tips above to heart, you’ll build a great foundation on which your media relationships can grow and flourish.


Don’t Call it a Comeback, Hostess has been here for months – thanks to its communications efforts

Americans faced a crisis of apocalyptic proportions recently as the Twinkie faced extinction. So distraught were we about the Hostess Brands’ bankruptcy that we blogged about it in November. However, it was not only the thought of life without Twinkies that […]


19 Jul
by Aspectus PR

Twinkie_comeback_AspectusAmericans faced a crisis of apocalyptic proportions recently as the Twinkie faced extinction. So distraught were we about the Hostess Brands’ bankruptcy that we blogged about it in November. However, it was not only the thought of life without Twinkies that caught our imagination, but Hostess Brands’ use of the Twinkie’s iconic status to power a strategic public relations campaign that deflected the media glare away from the intense political debate surrounding who was to blame for the bankruptcy.

So successful was this campaign that the nation’s favorite sweet treat was elevated to being an almost essential commodity, akin to that of clean water or oil. And while Twinkies might not have been on the shelves, they were certainly in the news, as numerous firms lined up to buy Hostess Brands.

It was private equity firms Apollo Group Management and Metropoulos & Co. that won out, snapping up the majority of Hostess Brands’ snack business – including CupCakes, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos – for $410 million. This week, it was confirmed that all of these snacks will be returning to stores across the US.

The Hostess comeback is not all sweetness and light amidst the potential job losses and wage cuts, but it does serve as a timely reminder of how important it is for companies to maintain a strong, concerted PR effort both during and after a storm of bad publicity if they are to minimize the impact on their brand.  The most effective communications campaigns are also designed to restore a battered reputation in the eyes of all constituents.

Hostess is using its current PR effort to expand its customer base, launching the #CakeFace Campaign, which encourages individuals to submit pictures of themselves pretending to eat cake. Though this might seem a tad juvenile, it is aimed at a younger generation that has yet to grow up with its snacks. It has also announced that the Twinkie will have a longer shelf life, feeding into the decades old perception that the only thing that would survive the apocalypse is a Twinkie.

Having successfully been brought back from the brink, Twinkies are now reported to be flying off the shelves. Panic not however. Hostess has conveniently provided a Locator should this blog have whetted your appetite.


Hot shot account executive needed for our energy team

Have you got a year’s PR experience and absolutely LOVE the energy sector? Then please come and talk to us about why you revel in renewables, are gaga about gas and ecstatic about electricity. We are looking for enthusiasm and […]


12 Jul
by Aspectus PR

twitter-energyHave you got a year’s PR experience and absolutely LOVE the energy sector? Then please come and talk to us about why you revel in renewables, are gaga about gas and ecstatic about electricity.

We are looking for enthusiasm and a real commitment to becoming an energy industry PR specialist from someone who has already got a good grounding in all the basic PR skills. That means being a fast writer, a fearless pitcher and a great workload manager.

We have stacks of energy clients in all areas and we are BUSY.

Send a cracking email to kate.garratt@aspectuspr.com with a copy of your CV.


Happy birthday to the Tube: Celebrating a 150-year-old brand in the digital age

It has been almost impossible to miss this year’s communications campaign celebrating 150 years of the Tube. From posters to TV programmes, articles to stunts, barely a day has passed when the Tube wasn’t in the news and for once […]


11 Jul
by Aspectus PR

TFL The TubeIt has been almost impossible to miss this year’s communications campaign celebrating 150 years of the Tube. From posters to TV programmes, articles to stunts, barely a day has passed when the Tube wasn’t in the news and for once at least, the coverage has been overwhelmingly positive.

Last week, The Chartered Institute of Public Relations invited TFL’s in-house PR team to one of its monthly gatherings to discuss how they’d achieved these results. Aspectus jumped at the chance to attend and gain insight into the strategy and ideas behind the award-winning campaign. The evening was hosted by The London Transport Museum, which provided the perfect setting for a discussion on how a brand’s heritage and future were juxtaposed to create an exciting and engaging campaign.

TFL’s comms team set out to celebrate both the heritage of the Underground, but at the same time encourage modern Londoners to appreciate the service they use today. Despite being such an iconic brand, for many Londoners the phrase ‘The Tube’ brings to mind delayed trains, stale air and being pressed into a sweaty armpit after a long day in the office. This was the first hurdle the team had to overcome and the team approached it by making the romantic history of the Tube tangible, most notably by organising a steam train to run through Farringdon station.

They also went to great lengths to show just how difficult it is to manage the Tube service, and the passion and energy that’s required. Perhaps the most touching element of the campaign was last year’s six-part series entitled ‘The Tube’, which culminated in the documentary, ‘The Tube: An Underground History’. These programmes painted a candid portrait of the service today and demonstrated how it has touched the lives of millions over the course of several generations – not least of all the lives of underground workers, who clearly loved the brand they represented. The show proved a huge success and attracted 2.2 million viewers.

The campaign also contrasted the past and present with a view of the Underground of the future, which teased the press with glimpses of new projects, such as Crossrail. Invites were extended to only a handful of news organisations but this in turn generated interest from a range of other publications eager to discover what was happening behind the scenes.

The team went on to show how, when a brand’s influence is at its peak, it can pull other powerful brands into its orbit. The Tube was able to partner with Penguin, The Royal Mint and even the Royal Family, which not only guaranteed reams of coverage, but also emphasised the cultural importance of the Tube for Great Britain. This was best demonstrated by the tongue-in-cheek image of Kate Middleton boarding a Tube train with a ‘baby on board’ badge pinned to her coat.

Using the rich history of design on the Underground, the comms team also reached out to brands such as Google and Lego, who used the famous multi-coloured map to create a Lego model and a Google Doodle. Again, these proved rewarding partnerships. The Google Doodle alone generated 400 pieces of coverage.

Social media was employed to tie all of the various audiences together, and acted as a platform for Tube users to share their stories and access all of the content generated over the course of the campaign.

As if the success of the campaign was in any doubt, the Head of PR for TFL concluded the presentation by explaining how the team had reported on their marketing activity. In a series of graphs, he showed how 64 per cent of Londoners had heard of the anniversary and when Londoners were asked how they felt about the Tube, 55 per cent replied positively (up from 24 per cent in 2011).

‘What’s the story?’ is a common question for PR agencies looking to communicate their client’s message to the press and this campaign undoubtedly had an interesting and rich story to tell. But by encouraging others to tell their own stories about the Underground, and by combining a wide range of innovative methods and channels, the TFL comms team also got people to truly appreciate a service that perhaps many of us have taken for granted. No mean feat for a 20th Century brand in the 21st Century.


Beat the heat and make a splash this summer with your PR campaign

Unfortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, they couldn’t beat the Heat in this summer’s NBA Finals. But that doesn’t mean your company news has to succumb to the slow months that often plague the summer PR schedule. Just like choosing […]


09 Jul
by Aspectus PR

wave-splash-summer-prUnfortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, they couldn’t beat the Heat in this summer’s NBA Finals. But that doesn’t mean your company news has to succumb to the slow months that often plague the summer PR schedule. Just like choosing the right players for a team’s important game, you have to choose the right news, and issue it at just the right time to ensure a successful summer PR campaign.

The first step is to assess the newsworthiness of the announcements a client is looking to make during the summer months. How many can be considered as being truly newsworthy? And what would be the goal for each? Be selective about the news and push the creative boundaries.

Once you’ve arrived at your shortlist of potential announcements, it’s time to break out the calendar. Note all the major holidays in your target geographies. If you’re planning to make a product announcement in the US on or around July 4, you may want to revise your schedule as the media universe tends to be quiet that week. On the other hand, if your goal is to begin pitching a long-term storyline, then it can be the perfect time to speak to journalists with the intention of garnering interviews later on in the month.

It’s also important to check for any significant events being hosted during the summer. A number of major industry trade shows take place in August, such as VMworld and the Laser App Broker-Dealer Conference. If these types of event are important to your clients, then it is advisable to release a news announcement to tie-in with specific shows.

Lastly, if you really want to know whether your PR timeline works, check-in with your journalist contacts. A core part of our role as PR professionals is to develop and maintain strong relationships with the media in our clients’ key sectors. So call your buddies and ask if they’ll be around. You wouldn’t want to host an event when your media contacts are all on vacation or at another show.

While it can be difficult for your news to be heard when the sound of beach waves are ringing in the ears of your audience, it’s not impossible. If you choose your news topics, messaging and timing wisely, you can achieve PR success and avoid being burned this summer.


Aspectus PR attends The Economist UK Energy Summit 2013

Managing the PR campaign for an event or conference can be stressful, with a number of variables out of our control, from speakers being unable to attend on the day, to bad weather creating havoc with transportation links to the […]


05 Jul
by Aspectus PR

UK Energy Summit 2013Managing the PR campaign for an event or conference can be stressful, with a number of variables out of our control, from speakers being unable to attend on the day, to bad weather creating havoc with transportation links to the venue.

However, our experience shows that good preparation can go a long way in ensuring that an event runs smoothly. A good example would be The Economist Events’ 2013 UK Energy Summit, which we recently helped to promote.

With only 24 hours to go, we found out the keynote speaker Ed Davey would be making an important announcement and was no longer available to give interviews to attending media as originally planned. Having managed journalists’ expectations on this matter prior to the event, and by ensuring their needs were accommodated as far as possible on the day, we were able to make sure that this did not have an adverse affect on the resulting coverage.

Topics deliberated included the capital challenge involved in financing the UK’s energy sector, hopes and fears surrounding shale gas, as well as the security of energy supplies and their affordability – the key focal points of the Energy Bill. A definite highlight was Davey’s breaking news announcement of the forthcoming DECC reshuffle, and this has already led to some great coverage for the event.

With over 100 delegates present, as well as journalists from the top national and energy publications, there was a great atmosphere at the summit with a lot of related discussion in cyberspace, most notably on Twitter, creating a certain buzz around the event. This goes to show the value of social media when it comes to increasing engagement at conferences, by connecting delegates, speakers, journalists and external commentators in order to further debate the issues at hand.


Women in the boardroom

Thanks to the CIPR Equal Access Network for a really interesting event on Tuesday night hosted by the City of London Corporation. Under the title, ‘PR: Women in the Boardroom’, CIPR chair Jane Wilson adeptly directed panellists Alderman Fiona Woolf, […]


04 Jul
by Aspectus PR

CIPR logoThanks to the CIPR Equal Access Network for a really interesting event on Tuesday night hosted by the City of London Corporation. Under the title, ‘PR: Women in the Boardroom’, CIPR chair Jane Wilson adeptly directed panellists Alderman Fiona Woolf, City of London Corporation, Heather Jackson, CEO & Founder, An Inspirational Journey, Gay Collins, Executive Chairperson, MHP Communications and Mary Whenman, Incoming Managing Director of Weber Shandwick Corporate, Financial and Public Affairs, and the often spirited audience in a whirlwind discussion. The group covered such diverse topics as childcare (surely a parental issue in a two-parent family, not a women’s issue), quotas (thorny as ever), female mentors and sponsorship, and networking. To that last point, yes, most men would rather go home and have a jacket potato and watch Corrie too, quipped Heather!

As a female-dominated agency operating in the typically male-dominated sectors of financial services, energy, technology, and engineering, the issue of equality gets an airing in the office every once in a while. What struck me last night was that, though the subject was nominally women, most of the discussion actually related to diversity in the boardroom.

Given the purpose of a board, nobody would argue that it should be made up of a group of people shaped by the same background, career and life experiences. But that doesn’t just mean gender-based diversity.

In many ways, the debate has moved on from being about women. While this is a positive step, it’s critical we continue to keep up the pressure on that front. Although the topic is now widely discussed following the Davies Report and the work of the 30% Club and others, the stark truth is that women still only make up 17.3% of FTSE 100 boards, and less still for the FTSE 250. If we can move the discussion on to the broader issue of board diversity, that will go a long way to supporting women’s routes to the boardroom.

Many of the obstacles to increasing the number of women on boards discussed could be applied equally well to this wider issue of diversity; not least, the idea that boards that are primarily made up of very similar people are not necessarily places that people who don’t share that background aspire to be. Also discussed was the issue of workplace (in)flexibility. Although too often aligned solely with women and childcare, workplace flexibility is something increasingly sought by men and women, childless or otherwise as work increasingly becomes defined as ‘something you do, not somewhere you go’. The third key point was around confidence, and although this was cited primarily as a female issue, it stands to reason that mentoring and sponsorship is critical for anyone who might not feel they currently fit the mould of a board member.

So perhaps a more apt title could have been, ‘PR: diversity in the boardroom’. That might at least have encouraged more men to attend, which would have been valuable. Still, the overwhelmingly female audience did make for excellent networking opportunities in the lengthy queue for the Ladies!


Good content really does travel: thought leadership campaigns are key to global PR success

The Aspectus Energy PR team has been busy collating information on the spread of global coverage achieved for our client Wood Group Intetech this week. And we were delighted to confirm we had successfully garnered coverage on every continent for […]


26 Jun
by Aspectus PR

The Aspectus Energy PR team has been busy collating information on the spread of global coverage achieved for our client Wood Group Intetech this week. And we were delighted to confirm we had successfully garnered coverage on every continent for the well integrity specialist. As part of this process, we pulled together what we hope you agree is a rather impressive graphic.

Intetech global coverage

The key to the success of Wood Group Intetech’s PR campaign is great content. As this graphic shows, the Aspectus brand of content-led thought leadership campaign that focuses on hot industry topics rather than products gets global attention.

If you’re looking for similar results from your PR, please do get in touch with Aspectus.


How B2B companies can develop an effective LinkedIn strategy

When it comes to social media adoption, it’s no surprise that B2B companies trust LinkedIn most. But many simply don’t know where to start. Here at Aspectus, we believe that a LinkedIn strategy should form part of a more comprehensive […]


21 Jun
by Aspectus PR

LinkedInWhen it comes to social media adoption, it’s no surprise that B2B companies trust LinkedIn most. But many simply don’t know where to start.

Here at Aspectus, we believe that a LinkedIn strategy should form part of a more comprehensive digital and integrated marketing communications campaign. So we’ve put together a few pointers for those B2B companies looking to get started:

Implement a consistent and integrated strategy

It is critical to first determine what your company aims to achieve with social media. Is it brand awareness, community building, search engine optimization, prospecting, or reputation management? Then recognize and exploit the strengths of LinkedIn to help achieve those goals. For example, LinkedIn is a great venue for displaying product testimonials, but not as strong as Twitter for real-time communications. Understand the gaps in what that medium can and cannot achieve for your company.

Develop your brand and hone your message

Second, you need to recognize the practical application of LinkedIn across your business. In other words, consider how your corporate profile and the individual user profiles of your employees will be aligned and how this will impact the corporate brand.

For example, B2B organizations should use the corporate page to reinforce its brand persona and drive traffic to its website. Listing out the company’s products and services, seeking recommendations, and posting videos all help to create brand credibility and should be core components of any LinkedIn campaign.

In addition, and as with any other communications channel, messaging consistency is imperative – especially since LinkedIn is one of the top places people will go to learn more about your company. B2B organizations should consider auditing corporate LinkedIn profiles for consistency of messaging and identify and correct individual pages in conflict with any corporate messaging.

Market your content to a targeted audience

LinkedIn provides a prime opportunity for B2B companies to engage in targeted content marketing to generate more traffic and click-throughs to their site and increase their community visibility and engagement on groups and forums. It is also a great way to promote thought leadership and corporate announcements such as press releases, blog posts, and video content.

However, before engaging at this level, publicly traded or highly-regulated companies should consider investing in a certain level of infrastructure, such as archiving technologies or compliance review processes.

For B2B companies, LinkedIn should be a key aspect of an integrated communications platform, run by experts who understand the medium. Only then, can the company create a cohesive strategy across digital and traditional channels and benefit from the best that each channel has to offer.

If you want more help getting LinkedIn, why not drop us a line?


The dangers of running your PR on the wrong fuel

We’ve all done it – put unleaded fuel in our diesel car or the other way round. There’s never a good time for this, but try doing it on a Sunday evening on the A1 if you really want the […]


19 Jun
by Aspectus PR

broken-down-car

We’ve all done it – put unleaded fuel in our diesel car or the other way round. There’s never a good time for this, but try doing it on a Sunday evening on the A1 if you really want the full nightmare experience.

There’s a bit of a parallel with PR. If you use the wrong agency or PR people to talk to specialist journalists you can do serious, potentially permanent damage to your media relations, perhaps without even knowing you’ve done it.

This is especially true in the capital markets, which we at Aspectus PR know well and deal with all the key journalists involved every day. It’s crucial to know the issues, especially when it comes to complex regulation, trading technology or developments in the financial markets. You cannot hope to work with writers and editors in this space unless you do. Equally important is knowing which journalists to pitch with what stories; the demarcation lines are often very subtle.

One of the most common complaints from capital markets writers is being called by ‘PR timewasters’ who simply don’t know their stuff. Their cards get marked and the journalists won’t take their calls or open their emails. The trouble is that it infects the client company’s standing with the capital markets’ media too.

And, a bit like a car after several miles on the wrong fuel, you don’t know the full extent of the damage until some time later.