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Putting Your Client Front and Center When a News Cycle Hits
by John Kreuzer

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Those of us who have chosen a career path in the PR industry have become very familiar with the 24 hour news cycle which refers to the 24-hour reporting of news, associated with the fast-paced lifestyle of today’s connected society.

The enormous amount of news resources available has increased competition for audience and advertiser attention, prompting media outlets to deliver the latest news in the most captivating manner in order to remain ahead of competitors. This includes television, radio, print, online, and now mobile apps which have been designed for news.

But with today’s 24 hour news cycle, how can you, as a PR professional, keep your client front and center when a news cycle hits? That seems to be the $1,000,000 question these days. Here are a few simple things that PR professionals can do on a daily basis to better prepare ourselves to insert clients into a breaking news cycle:

1. Make a List and Check it Twice

First and foremost, as a PR agency, it is our responsibility to keep our top-tier business and industry media lists up-to-date at all times. With a 24 hour news cycle, this is of the utmost importance these days. You never know when the next big news story is going to break, and you don’t want to spend the bulk of your time trying to figure out who you should be contacting. These lists need to be updated regularly or you’ll risk missing out on a potentially great opportunity for client coverage.

2. Television and Print and Online…Oh My!

With potential media hits on television, in print and online, you need to know what is going on in the news at all times. Not only should you start each day reviewing breaking and trending news stories, you should keep one eye on the news throughout the day. As PR professionals, we should always be looking for opportunities to inject our clients into the conversations that are taking place. New stories break throughout the day, and if you can identify breaking news that provides your clients with opportunities for coverage, you’ll continue to score points.

3. There’s a Newsjacking in Progress

A term that you’ll hear frequently at PR agencies looking to successfully insert their client into the news cycle is “newsjacking”. Newsjacking is a strategy that I’m sure we’ve all used which entails the promotion of a client through breaking news. If done creatively and successfully, newsjacking provides an opportunity to launch your client into the national spotlight. The challenge that we as PR professionals have is making our pitch stand out among competing companies as the breaking news story grows. As a PR professional, you need to be thinking ahead. Have a few pre-packaged pitches put aside on a few different topics so when a news cycle is developing, you can have your subject matter expert ready to chime in with valuable perspective.

4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Just because a news cycle ends, doesn’t mean that your work as a PR professional is over. After a specific story dies down, don’t be afraid to follow up with the journalists that you’ve been working with. See if there is an opportunity for a follow up story. Offer up a company profile, an executive Q&A or an in-depth examination of a product or service. It doesn’t hurt to just check in with the journalist on what trends are on their radar. You never know where your next opportunity may lie. You’ve helped them once, why not go back for seconds?

5. Reading, Willing and Able

Sometimes, locking down a source during a breaking news cycle can be nearly impossible. As PR professionals, we need to know who can speak on what topic and when they are available. Sounds tough, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. For each of your clients, you should have at least three to four designated spokespeople who have been media trained in case your top choice is unavailable. At the same time, you should be sure that you have their headshots and corporate biographies ahead of time in case they are requested by a journalist on a moment’s notice. If you know that a heavy news week is coming, or already in progress, proactively reach out for their availability ahead of time. You’ll be happy you did this.

6. Respond to HARO’s and ProfNet’s

Finally, there are a lot of resources out there that have been created to benefit the PR industry. Two of my favorites are ProfNet and Help a Reporter Out (HARO), both of which are great resources for finding out what journalists are working on, especially during a news cycle. I can say from personal experience that I’ve had great success using both services. Not only do ProfNet and HARO provide great opportunities to land an interview with a specific journalist, sometimes an inquiry can lead you to a news cycle that has either just broken, or is about to break. In a way, they can alert you to a specific story that you might not have been aware of before.

 


 

Did I miss anything? Do you have any other key tips? How have YOU inserted your client into a breaking news cycle? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

Rebrand – Pan Pacific Bank
by Max Liberty-Point

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In the summer of 2013, Gutenberg Communications was hired to rebrand and produce a website for a small business/personal bank in Fremont, CA.  What resulted was a modern, clean, and professional brand with a fully responsive website to match.  The bank’s board and other staff were included in much of the conceptualization and design processes.


The Challenge

Coming off a very successful fiscal year, Pan Pacific Bank was ready to renovate the brand and build a new website.  They felt their current brand was inefficient, unclear, and stale, and wanted a new identity that would strengthen their presence in the industry.  Gutenberg Design set out to do that.


Old Logo

Their original logo (above) was created some 7 years before.  The serif font gave off a very traditional feeling and the “gold” wasn’t rendering well on digital screens.  Nothing about it felt modern or potent.  It was time for a completely new look.




After a series of customer audits and board member interviews, it was established that Pan Pacific Bank ought to convey 3 major traits: community, relationships, and power.  Many brainstorms and sketch sessions later, it was decided that the Pacific Ocean embodied these characteristics excellently.  It’s specific to the bay area, extremely powerful, and highly relatable.  A new blue color palette would also be incorporated into the new brand.


Brainstorm Sketches


The Presented Concepts


[ #1 ]

[ #2 ]

[ #3 ]

After presenting these 3 concepts to the board members, it was decided that #3 should be the concept to be further refined.
After more iterations, what resulted was a symbol that boldly and professionally expressed the characteristics of the Pan Pacific Bank.  An artistic interpretation of waves breaking in the Pacific Ocean, the symbol communicates strength, community, and relationship.  Waves breaking gives the brand strength.  The allusion to the ocean supports the nearby community.  And the circular form gives the brand a feeling of security and affability.
Besides redesigning the logo mark, PPB’s logotype needed a makeover as well.  We settled on a sharp, bold, uppercased sans-serif that supported the strength and modernity of the logo mark.


The Final Logo

 

The Different Logo Orientations


The Logo Spacing Guidelines


Business Cards



The second part of the project was to redesign the website.  Pan Pacific Bank’s old site was old, dull, and lacked many of the web standards users expect today like responsiveness to different devices and a layout compatible for touch screen users.


Old Site

The new website would need to capture the professionality, strength, community and relationships that the brand stood for.  What resulted was a flat, elegantly simple design that communicated the content clearly and efficiently.  The layout is responsive to different screen sizes and works beautifully on touch devices.  This website is live at panpacificbank.com.


Website – Desktop Version

Website – Tablet Version

Website – Mobile Version

The Role of Marketing Has Changed
by Jeff Platon

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The old formula of interruptive, push marketing and a dependency on advertising has given way to a new process in which buyers actively participate in moving themselves through the journey of buying. More importantly marketing now has the potential to take a role as a guide in shaping the buyers journey and have a real impact on driving revenue.

For the savvy few, this revolution can create a new seat at the executive table for marketing executives.  This new marketer will have to utilize the fast growing science of marketing and use of big data and analytics that can radically alter the impact marketing can have on business results in this era of mobile cloud computing.

Today’s buyers are more interested in having an engaging experience in which they receive helpful information, compelling content, and a good education to help them compare products or services to make the best choice.

The first big change in the new marketing map is the newfound use of a comprehensive buying center persona development to enable highly targeted marketing campaigns.  Who specifically buys your product, and Why? What influences these buyers? What are they looking to achieve in terms of return on investment and results?  Where do they work?  What is their business role and title?

By adopting these new methods and digital tools you can enable your brand to appear in the right places at just the right times to reach your specific buying center.  And most importantly, marketing campaigns can drive an outcome – which is really the return on marketing investments leaders have been looking for all along.

A Room Full of Hope: HERS Breast Cancer Foundation Celebrates Community Support
by Jen Kindred

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” —President Barack Obama

Last Thursday, several of us from Gutenberg had the privilege of attending the People with Purpose fundraising luncheon hosted by our client, the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation.

“HERS” stands for Hope, Empowerment, Renewal, and Support. The luncheon was a resounding success on all these fronts – the room was full of hope and a tangible sense of purpose as breast cancer survivors and their supporters from the community came together to celebrate another year of hard work.

The mission of the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation is to support all women healing from breast cancer by providing post-surgical products and services regardless of financial status. They provide specialty undergarments, wigs, lymphedema sleeves, and other products that help breast cancer survivors heal after surgery and treatment. At their two program stores, talented and caring breast care specialists create a “soft place to fall” for women who have been profoundly impacted by the physical and emotional effects of their cancer and treatment.

Already this year, the foundation has lots of good news to share. Most significantly, they opened a new program store at the Stanford Cancer Center. The Stanford Cancer Center empowers collaboration, fosters multidisciplinary research and accelerates the pace of new knowledge that can be translated into new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. This makes it a premier location for HERS Breast Cancer Foundation to serve a new population of survivors. Likewise, 2013 was a year of continued steady growth: clients were served in over 1500 visits last year, with all programs seeing increases. Every client served means a survivor is not facing their healing process alone. The physical healing power of the garments and the emotional healing found in restoring a sense of dignity and personal beauty combine to have a powerfully positive effect on the women who use the Foundation’s services.

At the luncheon, the keynote speaker and honorees all gave inspiring and meaningful speeches about their involvement in the cause; several were cancer survivors. Dr. Kimberly Allison, a breast cancer pathologist from Stanford, read an excerpt from her memoir about her own personal fight with breast cancer, and the realization that medical care was only half the battle – the support of loved ones and community was just as important in her healing process. The audience acknowledged the powerful truths at the heart of her story with a tearful standing ovation. Dr. Mark Pegram, Director of the Stanford Breast Oncology Program, filled the room with hope as he shared news of recent FDA approvals and promising clinical trials.

Bay Area organizations Latinas Contra Cancer (founded by Ysabel Duron) and To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation (run entirely by volunteers) were honored for their research, outreach, and financial support. Gene Mello, CEO of Myers-Stevens-Mello and a generous leader in his Fremont community, was recognized for his long-standing support of the Foundation; he has been working with them to fill their insurance needs for over 12 years.

We look forward to another great year of working with HERS Breast Cancer Foundation and the amazing women who run it. Spread some hope and show your support by sharing their story in your community — especially if you know someone who might need the services they offer. Donations are always gratefully accepted.

PR Lessons from GM, Toyota auto recalls
by Mike Gallo

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The Detroit News today put the GM ignition-switch recall center stage noting that the developing auto recall crisis, not limited to GM, provides some lessons for an already embattled industry.  The article also reminds readers of the billions that Toyota Motor Corp. paid — and the “incalculable damage to its sterling reputation for quality” — after its sudden acceleration crisis of 2009 and 2010 forced the company to recall more than 10 million vehicles.

Moreover, Detroit News also points out that automakers are on pace this year to break the all-time record for most vehicles recalled. In the wake of GM’s big recalls — 9.6 million vehicles recalled this year, including some more than once — many automakers have stepped up the pace of callbacks.

This clearly raises an issue of trust and transparency – qualities that are of the utmost importance in the way companies engage with customers, stakeholders, investors and, of course, the media.

In the case of GM, some have questioned why the company didn’t take steps to fix this problem “decades ago,” then citing cost issues – an argument that tends to enrage consumers. However, any business case for saving a few bucks on a recall is lost in the significant brand equity and trust that is lost with consumers.

There’s a lesson here for PR – even if purely from a communications standpoint. Companies need to assume that issues and problems that today are behind the scenes will eventually come to light, and when a company isn’t the one breaking the news, it will be in a reactive, defensive position as the story plays out.

What’s even more interesting is how situations like this impact industry peers that may not even have an issue.  Investors, for example, tend to sell first and evaluate later, and in the face of overwhelming industry problems.

For example, Nissan Motor Co. addressed the recall issue from a process standpoint, noting that executives responsible for recall decisions have “complete autonomy” and there’s no connection between their personal compensation and company profits and losses.

This level of transparency is a strong step toward building trust with consumers and letting them know that there is, at the minimum, a reasonable process in place to identify recalls and take timely action when necessary.

In a communications age when information can circle the globe in a matter of minutes, companies need to identify issues quickly and then have a strategy in place to communicate with stakeholders and customers, or they risk letting the situation spin out of control.

April’s Fools
by Jon Teel

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“Let’s suspend his stapler in Jello.”

“Let’s fill his office with balloons!”

“No, let’s fill donuts with mayonnaise.”

“What about toothpaste?”

A snapshot of the conversations that riddled the Los Gatos Gutenberg office on March 31st, the eve of all prank days.

“What about a blow horn beneath an office chair?”

Silence. This was the winning idea, and we all knew it.

The next morning it was just a matter of coming in early and finding an open seat. 7:55a rolls around and there were two unfilled seats in the office—new team member, Jordan Hubert, and Co-CEO Hugh Burnham. Without hesitation we strapped the horn to Jordan’s empty chair. It was time to officiate his initiation… with a bang!

Creative Director, Max Liberty-Point, unveiled the horn and a roll of black duct tape (two ingredients that guarantee a laugh!), and began engineering the rig. I sat in the chair several times to mimic the trigger, and Max carefully positioned the horn beneath the cushion. A few extra strips of tape to conceal the device and we were set. All we had to do now was wait.

Five minutes later Jordan strolls into the office, suspecting today would be like any other Tuesday. He places his bag next to the desk and squares himself against the chair. He pivots to sit… but stands to arrange his laptop. After a moment he bends to sit again… but then stands to straighten some papers. The office is silent, a little too silent for those in the know, but Jordan (apparently) didn’t notice. Finally, with a knee bend and a lean, Jordan drops into his chair and the horn’s high-pitched shriek fires! Watch Jordan’s reaction here.

We all got a good laugh, but we were too excited to let April Fool’s end there… especially when there was one seat still not filled. We quickly stripped the horn from Jordan’s chair and applied it to Hugh’s, this time looking over our shoulders to make sure he didn’t walk in the door. We set the trap and walked away, and we seemingly forgot about it. 10a rolls around and Hugh comes in, reminding us of a doctor appointment he had this morning. He walked around the office for a few minutes chatting with everyone individually, all of us now plugged into assignments and phone calls. By the time he stepped into his office, none of us remembered that the bomb has about to go off. The horn blared and the whole office jolted! The horn continued to shriek, holding its blast for nearly 10 seconds. The office quickly reverted to laughter at the sight of Hugh’s hands covering his ears with a perplexed look on his face… but still sitting stationary in the chair until the horn bled itself dry.

Happy April Fool’s from your friendly Gutes!

There’s Really No Place to Hide Online
by J. Bonasia

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Privacy, hacking, data breaches, and identity theft.

These are the hottest topics this week for some 25,000 industry consultants, sponsors, vendors, and buyers of computer security products gathered at Moscone Convention Center for the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco. Some members of the Gutenberg PR team are on-site there as well.

For the uninitiated, RSA is “Where the World Talks Security,” according to the event’s tagline. In fact, the world talks security just about everywhere these days. Few topics can get the Internet community as riled up as cybersecurity, and it’s no wonder people are so concerned about the problem of privacy.

There’s really no place to hide online, as evidenced by a recent spate of shocking news disclosures. The headlines include NSA tracking of phone calls and emails by U.S. citizens and allies, and hackers stealing credit card data from millions of shoppers at Target.com and other major retailers. In this uncertain climate, should Edward Snowden – the former government contractor and NSA whistleblower – be considered an American traitor, a courageous patriot who spoke truth to power, or something in-between?

Security experts say that as long as computer data exists, it will be exploited by new forms of computer fraud, prompting new strategies to prevent that fraud. This cat-and-mouse game of “firewall” has become an accepted truth, just as theft and robbery continue to exist as long as there’s money to be made. Everyday folk are often caught in the crossfire of this costly game, and that is exactly what security conferences like RSA are focused on preventing.

Ultimately, what’s so disturbing about computer fraud is that it gets at the nitty-gritty of who we are, what we do, and where we live. Some people have adopted Bitcoin accounts to protect their identities in financial transactions. But even Bitcoin brokerages are not immune from being hacked, as Mt. Gox – the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo – learned on Tuesday.

It’s bad enough having your virtual currency stolen, but it’s another thing to feel totally violated when someone spoofs your address and phone number and other personal info to rack up untold charges on your debit card before you or your bank even have a clue about the breach.

In other words, computer snooping has become personal, and that’s partly why German Chancellor Angela Merkel was so incensed by the NSA’s intrusions into her phone conversations. But this trend also speaks to a prevalent anxiety of our times—a faint sense of dread and paranoia that our every transaction is being recorded, our every interaction is being videotaped, and our every whereabouts is being logged by some GPS recording device.

Of course, new technologies continually emerge to offer built-in anonymity, such as photos that immediately disappear in Snapchat, or social media messages that mask your real identity in the Whisper app. Still, it’s hard not to feel like Big Brother is constantly monitoring everything day and night, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

In this age of full digital immersion and constant connectivity, we have no real choice but to forge on and live loudly in the open. At least we can embrace the protective services offered by the very cybersecurity companies attending this week’s RSA conference, because this is one problem that’s not going away anytime soon.

Weaponizing Earned Media for Maximum Impact
by Kasey Backherms

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Earned media – the product, trend and thought leadership placements we work very hard to deliver for our portfolio of clients – is an excellent validation of your product and company strategy. It’s also a valuable component to your content marketing strategy, one that can help deliver sales results, in addition to quality traffic and awareness.
Continue reading…

Five Tips for Daily PR Success…and Keeping Your Client Happy
by John Kreuzer

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Landing that “Big Fish” client is great, but what do you need to do to keep their business over the long haul? Simple: Keep them happy!

Keeping a client happy is our number one goal in PR. Not only will having a happy client potentially lead to more revenue for your firm, it also leads to a sense of accomplishment and a more positive atmosphere in the office. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

So how do you go about keeping your client happy? Well, it’s not something that can be done by doing minimal work. Keeping a client happy takes hard work, dedication and the willingness to go above and beyond expectations every day.

There are a few simple things that we can all do on a daily basis to keep our clients happy. This includes:

  • Provide counsel that portrays confidence and brings added value
  • Set realistic goals and expectations
  • Deliver what you say you’re going to do on deadline

But from my experience, above all else, a client’s happiness comes from seeing their company portrayed positively in the media. You can write the greatest PR plan, create the perfect speaking abstract, or develop the most complete awards calendar…but this isn’t what matters in the grand scheme of things. Results matter, and results in the form of positive coverage (whether it’s in print, online, on TV or any other form of media) is job #1 for us as PR professionals.

Each and every day I come into the office I have a game plan. While things may change, the end goal is the same: POSITIVE COVERAGE! So how do you go about making this a reality?

Here are a few daily tips that I always keep in mind to ensure I’m providing my clients with the best opportunities for positive, feature coverage:

A Nose for News…

Not only should you start each day reviewing breaking and trending news stories, you should keep one eye on the news throughout the day. As PR professionals, we should always be looking for opportunities to inject our clients into the conversations that are taking place. New stories break all day long and if you can constantly identify breaking news that provides your clients with opportunities, you’ll continue to score PR wins.

Just the Facts Ma’am…

If you’re going to be successful in any job, you need to have a game plan. In PR, it’s no different. You need to know your facts, know your audience and support your client’s message. When the media asks questions, be prepared to accurately use examples, facts, statistics, quotes, analogies, personal experience and images to help illustrate and emphasize your key messages.

Content…Content…Content…

As PR professionals, it is our job to re-work, reuse, and repurpose our clients’ content in new ways to give it fresh life wherever we plan to use it. Today, content is king and you can’t hide behind the excuse that it’s a slow news day. Keep contributed articles, industry perspective and even infographics at your disposal and use them as a way to continuously share insights with the media. Don’t forget that you can also use it by reaching out directly to your targeted audience via your clients’ social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc…

Hit ‘Em Up…

With today’s 24/7 news cycle, PR professionals need to hit up their clients constantly with new ideas, trending stories and potential opportunities to comment on any story that impacts their viewpoint, business or product. By doing so, we can train our clients to realize that news flows minute by minute and there’s always an opportunity to obtain coverage, provide perspective, or add value to the conversation.

Let’s Do Lunch…

Is your client traveling? Are they somewhere where they could meet in-person for coffee or lunch with a journalist or two? This should be a “no-brainer”, but sometimes we overlook the simplest of things. Access and availability of your client can bring added interest from the media. Be sure that you are always synchronizing your proactive media outreach with your client’s travel schedule. By using availability as a reason for an in-person meeting, and securing interviews and potentially on-air television appearances, you’re building stronger relationships.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any other key tips that we should be using on a daily basis? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

PR Support for a Worthy Cause
by Andria Barrera

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Public relations is key to the success of many organizations. There are many situations when a company looks to reach a large audience. From a startup or product launch to rebranding, or a partnership or funding announcement, companies of all sizes benefit from using the mass media to share their story.

I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of our work with HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, a pro bono account that we are proud to support.

Since we started working with HERS Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF) over a year ago, we have had the honor to promote both of the organization’s annual events – the People with Purpose Luncheon and KEEP Abreast Walk/Run, (registration now open for the 2013 event this Saturday, September 21, 2013).

HBCF supports all women healing from breast cancer by providing post-surgical products and services, regardless of financial status.

We have quickly learned that inspirational organizations like HBCF attract great people, support, and opportunities to bring awareness and generous donations to the foundation. Recently, two men set off to ride bikes from Alaska to South American on behalf of the organization. Gutenberg was able to secure coverage for HBCF and the cyclists in national publications, local newspapers and online publications, in addition to a news broadcast spot. The media coverage also grabbed the attention of the Golden State Warriors, in which one of the players asked to attend the KEEP Abreast Walk/Run with his mother who is a breast cancer survivor. The relationship between HBCF and the Warriors was another opportunity to garner greater visibility with local outlets and in result, drove even greater attention to the organization.

Just as Gutenberg has taken advantage of the opportunity to work with HBCF to increase their exposure, any nonprofit can benefit from the same type of P.R. campaign. The opportunity to increase awareness for a nonprofit organization isn’t just about being savvy, it’s about strategy, networking, building relationships and communication.

Nonprofit organizations do amazing work and deserve to have their story told, a dedicated PR team can deliver results that will allow them to fulfill their mission.

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