Archive for the 'Publicity' Category


Public Relations Working Well: Evolving The Press Release Into The Information Release

canstockphoto9493898Discussions continue regarding validity of traditional press releases. Press releases were the traditional go-to channel used by public relations practitioners to share information with the media. Some consider press releases irrelevant in today’s society, where social media citizen journalists are breaking news first. This begs the question, with the evolution of the Internet and social media platforms, are press releases being phased out? Spoiler alert: No.

The popularity and use of social media sites has forced PR professionals to change how we communicate. Emails, cold calls and tweets have become more of the norm when sharing information with the press versus a conventional format-specific press release. Because social media has changed the way we do public relations, it’s becoming more common for journalists to overlook press releases, as they often search for news stories directly avoiding any possible bias.

Yet at the same time, good practitioners know how to tie effective public relations with good SEO. Using the distributed press release to increased links and keyword searches back to the corporate site increases organic search ratings. Additionally, press releases are used as a great form of “back-up” information when the original pitch piques a reporter’s interest.

While the terms are often interchanged, I consider a “news release” to include critical information of wide ranging impacts. When the release represents an official statement from an organization, speaks on behalf of a company when critical announcements need to be made, specific issues need to be addressed or stock prices may be impacted, “news releases” are still important.

Maybe the traditional press release isn’t really an alert to media outlets anymore. Maybe it’s better if we consider it an “information release”. We don’t use them much in pitching, but there is still a role for press releases in the practice of public relations.

Another morphing of the role of press releases is from a recent study stating that 66 percent of public relations consultants say the press release plays a very vital role in branding efforts on behalf of a company. In your opinion, will the typical press release continue to be effective or how much longer until its usefulness is eliminated in our social media-driven society? Share your thoughts with us!


5 Ways to Get the Media to Pick Up Your Story – Part 1 of 3

Please welcome guest blogger, healthcare communications professional Rachel Brand who will bring The Side Note a series of three blogs for the next three weeks on health care public relations.

Do you want to write more compelling press releases and earn more coverage?

You should. Health care is ripe with dramatic medical rescues, fascinating technology, unsung heroes and stirring ethical debates. But these stories often don’t get told. That’s because pr pros are writing leads like this:


The new health insurance plan, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is designed to provide coverage to uninsured individuals who have been denied health insurance or been offered only unaffordable options.

Sure, it’s important. But is it interesting? And – will it drive coverage?

1. Lead with the impact

For your next lede, ask yourself out loud, “what does it mean to the man in the green pick-up truck?” You can see him, across the park under the tree, sitting in his rusty forest green truck.

In other words, how does your news benefit, effect or change the lives of real people?

How about:

Thousands of uninsured Americans, desperate for healthcare coverage because they are chronically ill, can now see a doctor thanks to a new federally funded health insurance plan.

But what if your program doesn’t have any direct impact on people, at least not yet? Then…

2. Lead with people

Whether you are promoting a walk to fight cancer, a rally for homelessness, or the appointment of new CEO of your hospital, find a person and tell his or her story. Better, yet, tell the story of an important person in an unusual way.

Typical CEO appointment releases have headlines/first paragraphs like this:


(Anytown, USA) Lawrence Leader, currently the COO of St. Elizabeth’s Regional Hospital, has been appointed CEO of the hospital. He takes over as current CEO Marcy Mercy retires after a long and distinguished career.

But what if you took a half hour to find out Larry’s story?

The results might be:


(Anytown, USA) Larry Leader’s mother, a first-grade schoolteacher in Moline, IL, used to count out coins from her wallet each Saturday morning before grocery shopping. Rarely was there extra to buy candy.

Poor but strong-willed Florence Leader pushed her children to go to college. Larry, the youngest of five, enrolled as an Army medic to pay for it. …

The moral of the story? Writing a compelling press release that leads with the impact or leads with people is a better way to get the media to notice your press release.

(Continued next week)

Rachel Brand is a healthcare communications professional who can teach writing over brown bag lunches at your company. Contact her at rachel (at)


Power of Twitter: Ashes to Ashes

Twitter confuses babysitter with a cricket match

Ashley Kerekes, a 22-year-old babysitter from Westfield, Mass. became an overnight celebrity when her 300 Twitter followers had grown to 6,100. How did she get so popular all of a sudden?

Also, why is a babysitter receiving tweets about ‘bowling a maiden over’, speculation about who is at ‘silly mid off’ and bowling a ‘googly to the night watchman’ – when her tweets normally revolve around knitting and the TV-show Glee

It is a simple explanation; Ashley’s twitter handle is @theashes.  The Ashes is also the name given to a series of matches, each lasting five days, which take place between England and Australia once every two years. It is called The Ashes because the two teams fight for an urn, which legend says contains the ashes of a cricket bat.

Cricket fans from around the world bombarded her with messages after the 66th Ashes series began on Nov. 25th. She issued a series of polite denials before lashing out, “I’M NOT A FREAKING CRICKET MATCH!!!”.

Eventually, she asked her new followers to explain cricket’s confusing rules. That is when things got really interesting.

In true viral fashion her followers, now 13,500, set up a hashtag: #gettheashestotheashes (Get theashes to The Ashes) and she has become a media sensation, interviewed on SKY News, BBC and Fox 25 Boston.

Ever alert marketers have spotted an opportunity, Qantas offered a free flight to Australia to witness The Ashes in person, on Nov. 29, the airline tweeted, “@Qantas_Airways confirms it is bringing @theashes to Australia for The Ashes.” 

Vodafone Australia has since offered to pay for her match tickets and provided a free phone so @theashes can tweet throughout her Australian adventure. Even Ashley has capitalized, she is selling T-shirts (shown at right) featuring her most famous tweet.

Both Qantas and Vodafone had teams paying attention to social media and acting quickly when the opportunity was revealed.  Besides being active in social media, one of the lessons learned in Ashley and The Ashes story is that helping people when they least expect it can yield great rewards.

Ashley is still in Australia for The Ashes.  The series ends in January, you can follow her Cricket/Australia adventures at @theashes.

Tell us if you have come across an accidental celebrity story that marketers were able to leverage.  Share your stories with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.



Spend a Day in These Shoes – The Power of Testimonials

Forget the days of the power suit, for many female politicos – it’s the day of the power shoe. When Reshma Saujani, a democratic congressional candidate from New York, mentioned the shoes she wore to pound the pavement of New York, she starred a flurry of politico shoe shoppers into motion.

A story in the New York Times claims Saujani heard of the shoes from someone on the Hillary Clinton team. Saujani wore the Kate Spade three-inch, round-toe, black patent wedge heel called the “Halle” and caused one-day lookups on Yahoo! to spike 625 percent. Politico show lovers voted for the Halle to be the “it” shoe with phrases like “Kate Spade wedge,” “Kate Spade wedge shoe,” and “Kate Spade Halle wedge.” The Huffington Post has even covered this hot topic.

These pantsuits for the feet are practical, or as practical as a high heel shoe can be, because they wear-well yet look polished. Unlike the lauded Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks of Sex and the City, these shoes can be worn to pound pavement.

So, what does this tell us about marketing?

Customer testimonials have a lot of power, especially when it comes from someone well known who actually uses the product.

It also tells us that marketing to your target audience is very important.

Had the Kate Spade public relations team worked to get Sarah Jessica Parker to wear the Halle, the shoes would have come off more soccer mom than political chic. By getting their shoes on the feet of a woman who had a very practical use for them and was seen as fashionable and chic herself, the shoes came off as super stylish and a must have item.

We’d love to hear what you have been done to reach your target markets?


Adidas: The Model for Integrated Social Media Campaigns

As a part of ‘Every Team Needs a Fan’ campaign, Adidas is teaming up with recognizable athletes Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints; Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic; BJ Upton, Tampa Bay Rays; and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. of NASCAR to engage sports fans across the U.S. for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Adidas is the provider of the World Cup game ball and is extending their awareness at the global event with these four brand ambassadors.

Reggie Bush traveled to South Africa, in addition to conducting interviews with multiple media outlets, he shared a picture (right) on his twitter account with U.S. player Jozy Altidore (also an Adidas athlete) minutes after the U.S. beat Algeria.

Each ambassador is posting Facebook updates, they are tweeting during and between World Cup games. Each one has shot YouTube videos. (Dwight Howard’s is the most entertaining.)  To get people even more engaged, there is a competition for the ambassadors to get the most fans and Dwight Howard is hosting a watch party in Atlanta for one winner that signed up through Facebook.

Here are many of the locations the integrated social media campaign appears:




Individual Websites

Adidas has done an exceptional job of extending their brand presence through athletes they have endorsement deals and having them cross-over into different sports which exposes fans of these other sports to these athletes and Adidas.

BJ Upton’s participation has been limited in this promotion, however he recently became embroiled in controversy and it is possible that Adidas downplayed his role in this campaign.  This shows Adidas flexibility to adjust the campaign on the fly and the flexibility of social media as a marketing tool to enable such adjustments.

Let Weise Communications on Facebook know about the best thoroughly integrated social media campaign you’ve seen.


Is Royal Caribbean sailing into a great PR story, or sinking their own ships?

This week’s news from the LA Times about Royal Caribbean cruise lines is twofold. First, they are pledging at least a million dollars to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Second, they are continuing a port of call for their cruise ship passengers 65 miles north of Port-au-Prince, where rescue workers are still searching through wreckage for victims.

It’s a mixed PR story that seems to waiver between good and bad. While Royal Caribbean is pushing their (albeit good) messages that include the delivery of pallets of food, handing off extra mattresses and lounge chairs for makeshift hospitals, and donating all proceeds from excursions on the island to the relief efforts, these messages are mixed in with stays at the private island being protected by armed guards and passengers feeling uncomfortable drinking frozen island drinks just up the road from starving and homeless quake survivors.

I think we should give Royal Caribbean credit for almost doing the right thing. Unfortunately their message is getting muddled. Buried at the end a story in the Guardian, this reference was made:

“The company said yesterday that U.S. coastguards have assessed the jetty and decided it could not be used for cargo ships.”

This is probably an important message that should have been more apparent. Cargo ships can’t access this private port, which is a great reason for the cruise ships to be docking and bringing supplies.

And the message about what is being delivered is good, too. I even think the message about “helping the local economy” is right. The problem is the repeated message of zip line tours and jet skiing. Royal Caribbean should have scaled back excursions for a few weeks. I realize that the local economy needs the infusion of American tourist dollars, but the grim reality of holiday merrymakers frolicking in the sun amidst so much anguish is just incomprehensible.

Clearly the executives at Royal Caribbean are working this story for as much PR exposure as they can get. And that’s fine. As a PR professional, I don’t begrudge them this opportunity. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to send a boat full of supplies instead of passengers? The fact that delivering the supplies is just “part of the schedule” reduces what could have been a bigger and better story. Send the staff down to re-build houses. Carry medical personnel to Haiti. Provide free transportation to the American families that are adopting orphans… now that would build a bigger PR story.

What do you think? Should Royal Caribbean be docking in Haiti? Fill out the survey below or respond with your comments.


How will the public relations (fake) gold standard change when “The Oprah Winfrey Show” ends?

Last week I read the blog “The Ethical Optimist,” and I have to echo the comments of Ann Subervi in my own words, “Phew, what a relief! Only 10 more months and no more ‘Can you get me on “Oprah?”’ PR requests from clients.”

Over the years, the “Get me on ‘Oprah’” requests and the number of people making money with “I can tell you how to get on Oprah” seminars, has become the PR professional’s thorn in the side. As Ann mentioned, it is most infuriating when the product or service does not even remotely relate to “The Oprah Winfrey Show’s” audience. For example, why would the women watching the show care about satellite uplink technology when they could be watching Tom Cruise sofa jump?

It is often difficult to explain that getting on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” may not be your defining PR moment. But as the show starts to wind down, at least we won’t have to have THAT discussion anymore.

And the opportunities to get on the show in these last 10 months are decreasing quickly. There will be no “Oprah’s Favorite Things” episode this holiday season, and we are guaranteed a handful of “over the years” show recaps as well.

But moving forward, what will the new PR gold standard be? Will it be another TV show or a specific magazine? Personally, I hope not. And with the growth of online portals, I doubt it.

I hope that PR professionals will be able to communicate to their clients and their perspective clients that all media outlets are not created equal, regardless of their viewership/readership/listenership.  For example, having the right people following you and re-tweeting your information on Twitter may create a huge jump in a product promotion. Providing the right YouTube video may get the phones ringing for your service. Or having a strategically written and optimized press release may create a flurry of attention in your industry that gets your brand noticed and recognized

Next time you are hiring a PR professional, cut us some slack. If you are hiring a reputable practitioner and she or he tells you that “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (or fill in the blank with the next big show) is not “IT” for you, trust them. It’s not because they can’t get you on the show, it may be because they know it’s just not a good fit for you, your product or service.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” will be missed. But the stagnant question, “Can you get me on ‘Oprah?’” will not.


Gap commercial… What is the problem here?

In the last few days, the blog world has exploded in controversy with this new Gap holiday commercial. I saw it on TV last night and I thought there was cool dancing, there must be cheer leaders to pull that off, especially the girl who gets tossed 20 feet in the air at one point, nice sound stage to shoot on, good choreography. I also think the lyrics were fine…except that the Gap is showing its PC side. We have seen mostly PC holiday messages for years now.

But now there are groups (well, one actually: American Family Association – AFA) that are all bent out of shape because in the commercial’s lyrics say “You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.”

I just dont understand the problem with the commercial. What do you think?

I have to run. I am attending a “Celebrate the coming of Winter with this Winter Welcome gathering” at Stapleton’s town center. Now that’s just another PC name for the lighting of the Christmas lights at my town center.  I hope people aren’t upset when they get there to find out Christmas won’t be mentioned anywhere. What a world we live in.

Here are the lyrics for the GAP commercial:
Two, Four, Six, Eight, now’s the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.

Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever holiday you wanukkah.


Celebrate After a Crisis

Another great lesson learned from SHSMD 2009:

In June 2008, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was overcome with a devastating flood. Mercy Medical Center, in the heart of Cedar Rapids, did not escape without significant damage. The flood was a crisis for the city, residents, hospital, hospital staff and patients. There were many things the hospital staff did right and did well during the crisis and immediately after the two-week cleanup. But what I like most about their advertising and marketing is what they did a year a later, after the crisis was over and things were back to normal.

A year later, the time had come to celebrate all the wonderful things, some big and some small, that had happened at the hospital since the flood. I like this program because it brings the hospital together and recognizes that it truly takes the entire team to run a hospital when there is a crisis … and when there isn’t. The campaign also recognizes that the community is a huge part of the hospital’s success and was a huge part of the hospital’s survival during the flood.

The THRE3 6IXTY 5IVE campaign is a a sample of 365 great things that happened at Mercy in the 365 days since the devastating flood. Here are a few: Picture 2
#179 “Commitment to Community” fundraising campaign exceeds $184,000 goal
#183 Mock patient room created to focus on patient safety
#235 Mercy joins Twitter to provide electronic updates online
#241 Mercy pilots the upgrade of IV pumps to smart pumps
#247 All materials from demolition of the Family Practice Center were recycled

THRE3 6IXTY 5IVE shows that even though sometimes you need to mark the anniversary of a crisis, you can do it by recognizing the good things that have happened instead of remembering all of the bad things. It’s the best way to celebrate after a crisis.


Kosher Swish

matzoballA 267-pound, 3-foot high matzo ball that was made with 1,000 eggs, 200 pounds of matzo meal, 80 pounds of margarine and 20 pounds of chicken base was up for serving yesterday morning at a NYC deli.

Why the mountain of matzo? On October 18, the New York Knicks will host the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team at Madison Square Garden for a charity game. What a publicity stunt!

It’s the perfect way to mesh Israeli and New York culture and cause quite the stir. There’s probably not much that can stop a New Yorker dead in their busy, fast-paced, seen-it-all tracks, but I’m sure this did it. The matzo ball even had its own NYPD escort. Hopefully, Knicks fans will hurry to the ticket office (proceeds benefit Migdal Ohr, an orphanage in Israel) and Noah’s Ark Original Deli will see some traffic, too.

Go Knicks!?!

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