What’s Changed In PR and Why Being In The News Is Still Important

In a must read interview, Angela O’Mara, Editor of Aesthetic Insider  and President of the national aesthetic medical PR & Marketing Agency TPI Media Group, Inc., joins forces with PR Expert and owner of Current PR, Alison Hill, to discuss why PR remains a vital business asset in a fast paced world. Alison has served as brand steward, creative director, lead strategist and media liaison for such clients as Disney, LEGO, and Nickelodeon, and, as the longtime PR agency for the Peanuts brand, Alison has had the privilege of being Snoopy’s publicist for the past 17 years! Prior to launching Current PR Alison spent years in the executive suites of several agency and corporate giants such as Burson-Marsteller, Mattel Electronics, and Turner Broadcasting. In recent years social media platforms have become a vital aspect of many businesses but marketing experts agree that the fleeting imagery and fast messaging of social media may not bring with it the credibility and longevity that interviews on TV news channels and in print publications do. While Alison’s main PR focus is in the entertainment industry, Angela’s PR focus is on medical aesthetics, health, fitness and beauty and she has worked in the PR world for over thirty years. Together they share with you techniques you can use to put your business in the media spotlight. To learn more about Alison Hill visit www.currentpr.com. To learn more about Angela O’Mara visit www.theprofessionalimage.com.

How do you keep Snoopy relevant?
Well, it’s actually easier than you would think. Charles Schultz who, of course, is the genius behind the peanuts brand, created close to 18,000 comic strips during his 50 years of drawing the strip and that’s a lot of material. During that time he touched upon just about every conceivable relatable topic you can imagine. To give you a few examples, he covered family dynamics, especially sibling rivalries, as between Lucy and Linus and Sally and Charlie brown, unrequited love with the little red-haired girl that Charlie brown always was so in love with, sports, he was a big baseball fan, football, ice skating, tennis, swimming, golfing, surfing, skateboarding, you name it. He even covered the first man walking on the moon, as well as politics and fashion. He has covered the holidays such as the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown Christmas, Be My Valentine Charlie brown, the Easter Beagle…  the list goes on and on. So as marketers, the challenge isn’t that we don’t have enough content, we have tons of content in which to draw upon, but we need to find new ways to integrate this content into today’s cultural commentary and zeitgeist. Here are four examples:

The first is Snoopy and Belle in Fashion, where we recruited couture designers Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenburg and Isaac Mizrahi to create mini-designs for mini Snoopy and Belle dolls. (By the way, Belle is Snoopy’s sister.) Then we sent the dolls around the world as the Coolest Canine Fashion Exhibition imaginable. This garnered press worldwide.

The second was Peanuts Rocks the Vote, which we tied into the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. As part of the campaign we enlisted the support of celebrities Alec Baldwin, Taye Diggs and Whoopi Goldberg to tape mock PSA’s (public service announcements) asking the public to vote for one of the Peanuts characters for President. At the end of each PSA fans were directed to a website where they could register to vote in the real election that year.

In 2019, we collaborated with seven contemporary artists who integrated their signature style with the Peanuts characters in large-scale murals around the globe. We called it the Peanuts Global Artist Collective. This reached media everywhere and really tied it back to the artist and visionary that Charles Schultz was.

Currently, Peanuts is coordinating the international Take Care with Peanuts initiative, which promotes good global citizenship through three themes: Take care of yourself, Take care of each other, and Take care of the Earth. It features several components, including social messaging, original Peanuts videos, free lesson plans and family activities, and philanthropy, such as Peanuts helping plant hundreds of thousands of trees around the world.

Those are just a few of the campaigns the Peanuts team has created to keep Snoopy in the spotlight. While I am not the creator of these amazing themes, I am honored to be part of the team that helps make the events known to the public, and the media outreach helps generates enthusiasm for them.

Snoopy turns 70 this year and while he hasn’t needed any plastic surgery, how are aesthetic medical doctors and plastic surgery stories kept in the news after all these year?
Ha ha! He hasn’t aged a day! Whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it right. In our world, the aesthetic medical and beauty industry, there has been so much progress and continual advancements that there is always something new to report. It helps that the media and the public in general have a fascination with plastic and cosmetic surgery and it seems that every day there is a story being published or produced somewhere in the world. At TPI Media Group, Inc., we have represented many doctors and aesthetic innovators to the media who all share a common goal of growing their practice/business and patient base by educating the public on the services and techniques they offer. We have been in business for over 30+ years and are known as the go to firm for all things aesthetic medical PR and Marketing. We also work with many of the leading manufacturers who provide the fillers, injectables and technology behind some of these exciting procedures. Even on a surgical front, over the years newer, safer and faster techniques have been developed and the media wants to remain on the cutting edge too, so our firm is often contacted by reporter s and producers from TV shows and magazines that want to know what’s new and trending. We work with many leading shows such as CBS The Doctors TV Show, E! Entertainment, Good Morning America, The Today Show, etc., as well as newspapers and magazine and are able to work on a national or local level. Really what keeps our clients in the news is our ability to see the trends before they happen and our skills to be able to take that to the media and make it news. Being ahead of the curve helps keep all our clients relevant.

Does being in the main stream media give a business more credibility?
For the most part the solid main stream media is still considered a trusted source of information and for many a way to find out about what’s happening around them. Interviews with credible news sources such as ABC, CBS, NBC News, The New York Times, LA Times, Vogue Magazine, etc., continue to give a third party endorsement to a service, product, trend, event, etc. In addition, the majority of these types of media outlets have a huge audience that would be very costly to reach by any other form of marketing.

Does main stream media have a higher reach than social media?
For the most part, yes. There are 119 million online subscribers alone for the New York Times and you can’t get that kind of platform on social media. The same goes for many of the other news outlets. It is also credible because it is being read by people who have an interest in the news, not just fans of the social media site. By positioning a company or practice on one of these premier platforms is like finding gold. It’s a valuable opportunity. Some stories or posts placed on social media do catch attention and generally tend to “go viral” when a larger news organization picks it up.

Is it possible to have an effective social media only campaign?
Yes, especially if you are Beyonce or someone with that level of fame and you have 188 million followers on Instagram where you can communicate directly with your fans. That way you have special and complete control over what is said and the traditional press can just quote what you’ve shared in your feed and stories. But most of us do not have that luxury. We don’t have that kind of control or power in the social media sphere and need that extra platform that only a legitimate news outlet and PR campaign can give you.

Is it possible to have an effective PR only media campaign?
Yes. We would still choose traditional PR above social media as social media is too fleeting, especially in the medical field where the stories are intricate and generally serious. You can’t just post a photo and make that the story, or do a well-rounded story in the way a reporter from Vanity Fair magazine would in 280 characters which is about the length of a Twitter message. For most businesses social media platforms are how you keep your customers or patients informed about the services you offer and how you can interact with them. PR Media Campaigns are how you spread the news to new and prospective customers and patients without advertising.

What is the best way to contact a news reporter with a story idea?
A well written press release is still a great tool to use, as well as having reporters on your news beat on speed dial, email or text. Knowing who to contact is as important as how to contact them. Entertainment press people generally don’t cover health news so knowing who would cover your story is a start. Once you have determined who would be the best reporter to cover your story, then calling or emailing the magazine or news station will get you to the next level where you can send them press materials and begin dialogue.

5 Tips To Contact A News Reporter:

1. Know your reporter and his/her audience. Read and analyze their recent stories so you can get the gist of their style. For example, if you’re pitching a movie, the business reporter is going to be more interested in the box office receipts and budget for the film, whereas the entertainment reporter might enjoy learning fun facts about the making of the movie. Same holds true for TV reporters. Watch and analyze their coverage for at least a week before you even think about pitching them.

2. If time permits, get to know the reporter before you need to pitch them. Be authentic about this but start to follow them on social media. Comment or like their stories, so that your name starts to be familiar to them.

3. Reach out to them via email and when you do, try to refer to something you read in one of their previous articles if it relates to your story. (Only do this if it is truly organic.)

4. Keep your subject header short. No more than 9 words and 60 characters are recommended so it’s easy to read on mobile devices as well as laptops.

 5. Always customize the email. It should say “Dear Alison” “Dear Angela” not “Dear Editor” or “Dear Sir”.

What is an effective media pitch message?
It all starts with the subject header. It must be enticing enough to get them to open the email. Things such as;  “Snoopy calling Angela!” or “Snoopy calling Alison!” It’s short; it’s customized and you immediately know what the topic is. Once the reporter has opened your email, keep it short and sweet. No more than a three to five line summary pitch about the story. You can attach a press release or background sheet and refer them to the press release for all the details, rather than giving them all the details in the email. Make the pitch message pithy, interesting and intriguing. The goal is to want them to want more.

Are social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram a better method to make a connection?
We sometimes use Twitter to ask a reporter for their email address, but find that email is still the best way to go. In fact, a recent survey of 2,400 journalists found that 94% prefer pitches by email. Only 12% said they were open to receiving pitches on Twitter.

Tips to directly pitch a story to the media:

1. Know your reporter and their audience.

2. Write a short, catchy subject header (no more than 9 words and 60 characters) for an e-pitch.

3. Write the body of the email in 3-5 sentences.

4. Write and attach your press release; add a photo if your story is visual. Keep the press release as short as possible (one page is ideal), and make sure to put the big announcement or news into the first paragraph. If you’re going to include a quote, it should add information (ie., not just “We’re delighted” etc., etc., etc.,). Make sure to include your contact details (name, phone number, email address.)

5. If no response, follow-up the next day with a short note at the top of your original email.

6. If no response the second time, make a telephone call or follow up one last time on email.

7. Give them a chance to call or email you back.

8. Don’t give up entirely, but do move on to other potential reporters and outlets and return  to the first in a week or two if the story is still newsworthy.

How to decide and evaluate if a PR firm is a good fit for you?

1. Ask who will be working on your account. Many agencies trot out the owner of the agency for the new business meeting but then disappear once the client signs on. You want to make sure the owner is involved every step of the way.

2. Question whether they bill by the hour or on a monthly retainer? These are the two most common billing practices. A retainer basis generally produces cost effective results, compared to hourly billing.

3. Request a detailed list of what the budget is buying? Items in a PR campaign generally are:

a. Media list curation
b. E-pitch and press release writing
c. Media outreach
d. Press release distribution
e. Media follow-up
f. Spokesperson coaching (not formal training)
g. Clip tracking via Google Alerts
h. Ask for referrals and call them

To listen to the interview at Aesthetic Insider™ Radio, CLICK HERE!

To contact Alison Hill visit www.currentpr.com.
To contact Angela O’Mara visit www.theprofessionalimage.com.

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