With information on social media able to travel around the globe at near speed of light, media ‘rules’ such as news embargoes are a little retro in what is now a disrupted information space.
Traditionally, a press release or information regarding a newsworthy event might be embargoed, meaning that while the information has been shared with a specific audience, it is prohibited from being released to the public or widely disseminated in any way until the specified date.
Hear something juicy by word of mouth these days and its almost guarantee that everyone and their Auntie Dorothy has already shared it across at least one media channel. Rapid information sharing has never been so easy by so many people, which raises the stakes for embargoed news.
When old news is good news
An example of embargoed news might be as follows; imagine John Lennon was still alive and after much negotiation with the promoters, a large venue had secured a booking for the musician to perform a concert.
Once the deal had been confirmed, both the promoter and the venue would share the news to a group of contractors, suppliers and local media in order to co-ordinate plans in preparation for the public announcement of the imminent event.
Marketing materials would have to be written, approved, signed off and printed according to strict marketing protocols. Box offices would need to prepare their ticket booking calendars and have the listing uploaded. Hotel accommodation would need to be booked. Advertising space across a variety of daily, weekly and monthly publications would need to be secured and key media informed so they could schedule the news into their publishing calendars and have adequate time to gather additional background news about the artist to prepare accurate or in-depth news features and interviews.
This would be when a press release would be sent with an embargo informing the recipients of the event but stating upfront that they would only be able to share the news on a specified date.
An embargo is usually agreed between both parties – the side announcing the news and the side receiving it. Should the embargo be breached – perhaps by a gossip columnist looking for a scoop or an editorial intern unaware of the meaning of an embargo, it can have serious repercussions for all involved but especially regarding the legal agreements between the promoter and the venue, as well as the reputation of the publication or media title.
Additional industries such as government communications, the health industry and scientific news sources may also make use of embargoed news.
Quoting ‘Off the Record’ does not guarantee anonymity
Just as there is a source to every river that flows to the sea, shared information has a way of finding itself back to the creator and it pays to only ever share information that is accurate, factual and which represents integrity of knowledge.
It still amazes me how often I hear client revealing information about their company or personal life with a throw-away line about ‘this part being off the record’ when being interviewed by the press.
You are never off the record whether you are speaking to an editor or journalist – or your best friend – and should only share information with the knowledge that it immediately becomes public knowledge the minute it leaves your mouth.
In the same way, unless a publicist has a firm business agreement in place with the media outlet, sending out a media release with an embargoed date does not ensure your request will be followed.
Your marketing has paid off. The phone rings and you are invited for an interview on a popular radio show to discuss your field of industry expertise. After your initial excitement, it is natural that you might start to feel anxious, especially if you have never had an opportunity to speak live ‘on the air’ before.
Be aware that anxiety can quickly magnify into paralysing fear. This usually occurs in direct proportion to the degree of experience and understanding you may or may not have regarding public speaking and the immediacy of the radio interview environment.
Before your anxiety builds, arm yourself with the following tips so you can handle your interview with confidence and panache.
Research the station and the interviewer. Each radio station broadcasts to its own unique demographic of listener. Tune into the station and listen to the specific time slot you will be invited to participate in. How does the station ‘talk’ to its audience? Is it very formal in its style of broadcast or does it have a light-hearted and entertaining approach. If you don’t have time to listen in to the show beforehand, visit the station’s website. You are likely to find links to recordings of previous interviews that have taken place. Understanding the personality of the talk show host and the type of questioning techniques they like to use will also forearm you with how you can best respond.
Research the audience. While listeners may vary to a slight degree in age and lifestyle, there will be a core audience which will participate in listener call-ins and questions. Understanding the listener’s goals, expectations and assumptions will assist in your delivery of information and how you respond to listener engagement and enquiries. Remember that each and every listener may well be your next customer.
You are not going to have time to cover every point on the topic during the interview. Armed with the knowledge of your audience and the tone of the show, make a bulleted list of the main points you would like to communicate. Stay focussed on these main aspects of the topic throughout the discussion and keep referring to them with examples and personal anecdotes. Make sure you have at least one example that illustrates both a problem and its solution.
Establish your credibility with the audience upfront. Open with a strong story or perspective regarding the topic. Use rhetorical questions to match the type of questions the audience might be thinking. Make sure you cover the top five most frequently asked questions from your own customer base. Refer to the audience regularly and keep your information relevant to how it applies to their world.
Your voice is the only thing the audience has to refer to you as an expert. Keep your pace deliberate and your voice deep. Use pauses for effect and to guide your thought processes, so you don’t fall into the trap of the umhs and ahs. If the line of questioning momentarily stumps you, or you lose your train of thought, transition the conversation back to one of the topic’s main bullet points you jotted down at the beginning. Be forearmed and anticipate what might be tough questions regarding the subject.
Congratulations on securing your first radio interview. Be confident that you have all the information and answers to any awkward questions that may arise and approach your interview with focus and clarity.
Mercédes Westbrook is a journalist and editor with an extensive career in the media publishing arena working with top South African brand marketing and management teams over a variety of publications within their aligned industries.
As owner of www.firehorsemedia.co.za she has adapted her communication skills for the digital platform to include content creation, website design, content marketing, social media management, and public relations. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve finally realised that you need a website – well done!
With a fast upload and modern appeal, your new website will provide you with a global platform and a personalised voice to market your products and services to a potential market of 3 billion people (the number of current web users worldwide) – statistics you cannot afford to ignore in today’s digitally connected workplace.
Your website will instantly go to work to highlight your unique selling points, to educate audiences about the benefits of your brand, position you in the marketplace and keep customers connected with the latest news updates and user information through regular posts to your blog and social media sharing buttons.
Warning: We strongly advise that you don’t attempt to build your own website yourself. We have also seen the Wix advertisements and it can be tempting to think you can save a few bucks on some website DIY. Now is the time to remember what your Granny always said… buy cheap, buy twice. Unless you are IT savvy and have lots of time to play around with design ascetics, understand SEO content and have kept up-to-date with the latest security plug-in to prevent you from getting hacked, you are only going to waste precious time and money. Trust us, we have seen way too many customers fail along this route.
We suggest that instead you focus on your core competencies and entrust our tight-knit team of professional entrepreneurs with your website build, monthly back-end maintenance, blogging and social media sharing (where required) for a stress-free and effective reach out to your targeted audience online.
As a core group of tech professionals, we help you get your business online in the fastest and most effective manner without the headaches of trying to understand tech, back-end strategy and current online marketing tactics. And we do it because we care!
What you pay is…
1 page Scrolling Website – R5 500
Basic Website – R7 500
Standard Website – R9 500
Premium Website – R13 000
What you get…
A mobile responsive WordPress website in your field of specialisation using the latest DIVI Premium theme.
Installation of all necessary plugins for website aesthetics as well as seamless functionality. This includes Security plugins to protect your website against spam and hacking activity.
Set up of new email accounts.
SEO processes offering a Search Engine Optimization plugin that will be populated accordingly, thereby improving the site’s Search Engine Optimization with Google and other search engines. This plugin will also pull through your previous history with Google so as not to lose that from within Google’s Search Console.
Your own branding guidelines implemented over logos, images and design integrity.
Social Sharing buttons for site visitors to share your site on their own Social Media platforms.
Google map to your office premises.
Contact form to build your own database of customers.
A pull through of blog posts on the front page. There will also be a separate blog page where all your blog posts will be easily accessible to site visitors. This blog page will include a signup form.
Video clip Training session to familiarise you with the backend functionally so you can effectively upload your own content and media as and when required.
Monthly updates and security checks to keep your website running effectively.
The above pricing includes all content and images supplied by the client. Should you need assistance with web content writing and image sourcing, an additional fee will be quoted.
Prices are quoted excluding Vat
Development of your site will only start once content and graphics have been supplied and a 50% deposit paid upfront.
Depending on which website you choose to go with, full functionality and an layout blueprint will be provided to you for agreed before commencement.
Please contact Mercedes Westbrook on email@example.com to request a quote specific to your needs or call C: +27 789707633.
We look forward to chatting further with you
It is indeed a pleasure to commend Mercedes Westbrook for the outstanding PR and publicity expertise she has accomplished for our safari company this past year.
We have seen a significant increase across all social media and print articles and editorials, all going a long way to get Hayward’s Grand Safaris into the limelight where due.
Without a constant and dedicated outflow of industry updates and news from in-front and behind the scenes, our potential clients may not get the true story of who we are and what our safari lineage entails.
Having a professional on board such as Mercedes, who is able to encapsulate what makes us stand apart and what unique safari services we offer to our illustrious client base worldwide, is imperative to our future growth and success.
We look forward to continuing this process with Mercedes and building our brand exponentially into the future.
Founder and Chief Expeditions Officer
Tel: 086 173 2583 or +27 12 808 0442 or Cell: +27 82 606 1003
E-mail: peterhayward@ haywardsafaris.com
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson
All human relationships are based around communication. You may have great business ideas, but if you can’t convey them to others, your ideas won’t get you anywhere. A public relations company knows best how to package and present your story to the media in order for it to get seen and heard without the costs associated with advertising spend.
Each of us has a unique story to tell. A professional public relations company is practiced at breaking through the multi-channel, multi-device marketing noise and helping you to engage with your selected audience with targeted messaging that will raise visibility about what you do.
Their sole purpose is to give your business credibility so consumers can gain trust in your product, service or brand. At all times you remain in control about how your identity, company culture and values are being presented and what is being publicised about your brand.
Not only will a good public relations company be able to attract potential customers and grow sales enquiries and leads, they will assist in establishing you as a trustworthy company that invites interest from talented future employees and industry investors.
What is the difference between advertising and public relations?
A public relations campaign offers more credibility for your product or service than an advertising campaign. This is because advertising is paid media and public relations is earned media. Your story has to be good enough to be seen as newsworthy to an editor or reporter in order for them to write a positive story about it. When your article appears in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV, radio station or website, it is perceived as information being served up by the media title or platform on which is it being distributed. This means the information has been approved by a reliable information source rather than you just paying for it to appear there. Statistically, more people are likely to engage with published content over advertising, giving it an estimated value of between 3 to 5 times more value than its equivalent in advertising.
A public relations campaign is also less expensive than an advertising campaign. There is no need to buy advertising space across numerous publications and news platforms. A well written story will get you there for free. Too often huge expense is laid out in creating an advertising campaign involving creative design and production processes and the purchasing of space over targeted media titles that will need to be repeated in order to gain influence for your brand. In advertising this process is known as the effective frequency: the number of times a person must be exposed to your advertising message before they respond and before exposure is considered wasteful. Currently, in the advertising world, this is considered to be between 5 and 7 times. Alternatively, a well written, stimulating article is more likely to be shared virally, emailed, reposted on other sites, receive feedback and comments, and get tweeted on trending topic channels.
An additional advantage for public relations is that as newspaper and magazine readerships drop due to the increased reliance on the Internet, there are less writers and editors being employed. This means titles have fewer resources with which to travel, research or source news the traditional way. Rather, more and more news outlets are relying on citizen journalists, leading research from corporate companies, and industry spokesmen to feed them current news and events.
How does a public relations campaign work?
Public relations is a process of building media relationships and then managing the spread of information about you or your business through news releases, compelling stories, educational articles, tutorials, reports, trending topics, success stories and testimonials of your clients.
The key to building a reputation in the market is for information to be relevant, consistent and easily digestible. This is where a public relations company will assist you with a goal specific, measurable PR plan, backed up with professionally written content in the correct style and format of the media platforms being targeted.
Information may be packaged as media releases, white papers, e-books, media tours, road shows and press conferences, competitions, seminars, speaking engagements and product launches. Additional tactics might include vlogs, blogs, webinars, and gamification.
A public relations campaign needs to be measurable in order to determine its success. Not only do the results of the campaign need to be measured but also a review of what worked and what didn’t and their attached media value. This is where a media tracking company such as Newsclip Media Monitoring will assist you in seeing where publicity is being published along with a variety of functions to determine meaningful and measureable media insights and analysis.
In addition to spreading good news about your business, a public relations company is able to provide damage control should a business crises arise or hostile rumours start circulating about your company. A professional PR consultant can react quickly and efficiently to addressing and dispelling rumours and getting your brand back on track.
Interested in learning how Firehorse Media can help make your company shine? Contact Mercedes Westbrook on C: +27 789707633 or E: Mercedes@firehorsemedia.co.za
Email is the biggest marketing tool online today because everyone who uses the internet has an email address and we check the contents of our email inbox daily. This means that, on a daily basis, every email we receive gets our personal attention making email newsletter marketing one of the strongest and most powerful online tools if you own a website. When you attract more online subscribers to your email newsletter you are increasing your business networking potential
While Facebook may get you hundreds of Likes and LinkedIn might get you accepted into industry circles, email marketing directly links you to your own community of customers which you can nurture and grow along an every expanding network of communications that will build better business relationships.
How can you increase the rate of sign ups to your company newsletter? Take a look at the following checklist:
- Your call-to-action must be visible enough that it stands out from the page as soon as they land on your site. Depending on your website design and your industry sector, consider either a pop up box, a call-to-action at the top of the right hand side bar, placement in the comment section or at the bottom of your blog page.
- Offer a promotion, an incentive, competition or giveaway to entice them to sign up. Make signing up meaningful and worthwhile, for example: ‘Receive this one day Marketing 101 course for free when join our community of like-minded entrepreneurs’.
- Make the process of signing up as quick and easy as possible – an email address is all you need to ask them for.
- Communicate the added value they will receive when signing up to your newsletter. Step inside their shoes and consider what might be a benefit to being a subscriber? You may want to offer access to industry white papers, free download kits or additional workshops for subscribers only. Be sure to include an online archive of past newsletters so they will have idea of what to expect to receive from you in the future.
- Be honest about the frequency of your newsletter, whether you state it is weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or ‘periodically’.
- Make it easy for them to forward your newsletter to a friend by adding a ‘Forward to a friend’ link into your newsletter.
- Spring board sign-up offers on your other social media platforms. Post deals on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn that require an email signup in order to benefit.
- Include a newsletter call-to-action in your About section and Contact pages on all your social media platforms.
- Place a call-to-action link to your newsletter signup page in your email signature.
- Choose an attention-grabbing title for your newsletter and include the word ‘free’ somewhere visibly prominent.
- Compare two versions of your sign up form to see which one performs better, also known as A/B testing. Pay particular attention to button colour, placement on the web page, copy style, content and tone.
- Make sure the content of your newsletter is beneficial and stimulating to your readers on a consistent and ongoing basis. If your newsletter is badly written, long-winded or comes across as pure self-promotion, you will do more harm than good to your brand online.
- Use eye-catching images, short captions and excerpts in your email newsletter links to lead them towards the high points of your newsletter’s content online.
- It is worth using a professional writing service or freelance editor to ensure you maintain an ongoing and professional newsletter communication that both engages and stimulates your target market.
This article was written by Mercedes Westbrook of Firehorse Media. Reach me on C: 0789707633 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.firehorsemedia.co.za