Category Archives: media relations

Put your turkey and your PR in the oven ahead of the holiday

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The secret to hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your home is doing all the planning and preparations you can ahead of time. My mom, for example, sets the table the night before. The weekend before, she makes (and freezes) some of our favorite side dishes.  This makes the holiday a little less stressful.

For reporters and bloggers preparations for the holidays is no different. Most writers I work with end up filing stories in advance of taking off, so if you want to get some news coverage during the holidays, do your pitching now and make it easy. Continue reading


Tip for reporters: Don’t use Gmail at first

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Yesterday I got a request from a reporter for a story she was working for a top ten daily newspaper. I’ve not worked with the reporter before, but I look forward to. It looks like an interesting story angle.

The problem is, she contacted me via her gmail address — not an email address from the newspaper. Unfortunately, given the social engineering tactics of competitive intelligence firms, I can’t assume she actually is who she says she is.

I checked her record in Cision, a database of reporters we use at Sprint. She doesn’t have a phone number listed, nor does she list any email address other than a general mailbox from the paper.

Her note to me didn’t even include a phone number.

It’s likely that it’s a legitimate request, but I’m right to be cautious. Over the last year, we’ve had emails sent to our PR team using spoofed email addresses of real reporters.

I’ll be able to confirm her identity with a phone call or two, but it’s going to slow down our response time. What’s the best way to break this to a reporter you’re just beginning to work with?

Entrepreneurs and PR: Don’t try this at home

I've never asked a client, "Would you like fries with that?"

Everyone’s entitled to change their minds, but if you’re like me, it’s hard to admit it when you’re the one doing the changing.

I think that’s because it implicitly means you were once wrong.  And who likes admitting they are wrong?

Yesterday, The New York Times ran an interesting blog post from an entrepreneur who has changed her mind about the need for public relations. Last year, in the same blog, the writer announced she really didn’t need a PR firm — she could manage media relations all by herself. This year, she’s hired some outside help.

Continue reading

How the Washington Post is Balancing Online and Print Editions

The ombudsman at the Washington Post has an insightful column about how his paper is balancing the growth of their online edition and the decline of their print edition. His recent blog entry is also a helpful discussion of this topic.

The struggle isn’t new and it’s not unique to the Post.

But if you work in media relations like me, I urge you to read the column. It will give you a better idea of the pressure journalists are under and also a better idea of what kind of story they are likely to be interested in.

I don’t envy journalists working in the newspaper business. As they say where I grew up, “they’ve got a tough row to hoe.”

But their work is vitally important to our society, our politics and our culture. As PR people, our efforts to help reporters with their work become even more important.

Killing the News Release Won’t Solve the Problem

Tell the truth. Have you ever thrown a news release at a reporter waiting to see if, like spaghetti, a few bits of news stick to the wall?

The news release is dying and perhaps is already dead. Don’t tell Businesswire or PR Newswire. And heavens, don’t tell the stable of PR firms who throw them at journalists like spaghetti, hoping that at least one of the nuggets of information sticks to the wall.

I hate news releases, mostly because too many lazy PR employ them and do so ineffectively. My favorite blog find this week offered a Mad Lib approach to writing your next news release.

I don’t know if traditional news releases need to be killed, per se. (Done well, they still are effective and have a role to play.) But I am encouraged by the growth of the social media form of news releases. (Ford does the social media news release especially well in my opinion.)

But simply forcing the traditional news release into a social media form won’t solve the real problem: too many PR waste the time of journalists and bloggers with poor writing, a lack of brevity and an absence of real news. Even worse, there are way too many people who don’t deal with reporters in person. Ever.

Like most PR people, I work with a lot of journalists exclusively via email and phone. There are quite a few journalists who live on the other side of the country who I have great working relationships with and we’ve never met in person.

But when it comes down to it, there’s no substitute for connecting with someone in person. That’s when you can really get to know a journalist and learn how you can best work with them to help them do their job.

When was the last time you met with a reporter or blogger in person?


How Posterous Helped me Tell the Story of the EVO 4G

The EVO 4G from Sprint launches June 4, 2010.

Over the last year, in addition to this blog, I’ve kept a blog on the site It’s a blog where I focus on technology policy, mobile phones and Sprint.

In my experience, Posterous is substantially easier to manage than WordPress, but it doesn’t allow you the ability to personalize your blog to the extent WordPress offers. What it does offer is a quick bookmarklet, similar to Tumblr. When I spot a story, video or photo on the Web, I can quickly link it to my Posterous. There’s no formatting, no cutting and pasting of links — it’s just a quick and easy upload. I can even post to my Posterous via my mobile phone. WordPress takes me more time to manuever.

My Posterous site allows me to quickly link to a Sprint news release, video or perhaps a New York Times story about the FCC’s latest move and offer readers my take on why it’s important. I’ve set up my Posterous to automatically populate my Twitter feed, so the title of the Posterous post shows up as a tweet with a shortened URL linking back to the site.

Posterous makes blogging easy for busy people. Continue reading

Is the Chevy Volt a Great Car Which Happens to be Green?

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ve got an adventure planned. Well, that’s a stretch. Let’s say a distraction.

Geoff Livingston, who’s a communications pro here in D.C., has invited me and Washington Business Journal reporter Jen Conner, to join him in a test drive of the Chevy Volt, GM’s long awaited electric car. Geoff mentioned over lunch the other day that he was asked by GM to blog about the test drive and I asked if I could tag along. (I’m going to film Geoff and Jen on my flip camera as we tool around Washington inhaling that new car smell.)

I don’t know where we’ll go — that’s up to Geoff — but I am interested in visiting  one of these charging stations announced by Pepco today.)

Geoff’s idea for blogging about his test drive experience was to crowdsource it. Over the last several days, he’s reached out to friends on his blog, Facebook and Twitter to find out what people want to know about the car. Look for Geoff’s take on the Volt (and my flip camerawork) later this week on the Live Earth Blog.

Geoff is one of several bloggers and writers in the D.C. area who’ve been invited to try out the Chevy Volt. I think this is a very smart tactic on GM’s part. The more people they can get to try the car, the more people they will get to buy the car.

Increasingly, consumers want to buy green products, but they don’t want to sacrifice technology or pay more if they do buy green. Put differently, for GM and any U.S. automaker, it’s not enough just to make a green car; to be successful, they have to make a great car which happens to be green.

At Sprint, we took that approach with the launch of the Samsung Reclaim, our signature green cell phone. While another U.S. wireless carrier had introduced a green phone first, to be honest, the critics panned it. We took a different approach and packed as much technology as we could into the phone, plus we substantially discounted it. (The initial sales price was $50.)

We didn’t think that consumers should have to sacrifice wireless technology just because they wanted to use a greener more sustainable cell phone. This turned out to be a great move for us and one which has been embraced by consumers — the Reclaim is one of our best-selling phones.

I’ll let you know what our experience with the Volt is like tomorrow. I’m rooting for this car, but we’ll have to see. (I’m not a GM fan as of late.)


Update: I was going to write a second post which shared my impressions, but Geoff Livingston did that while I was out of town. Check out his post and the video I shot during our test drive for our collective impressions. In short, the Volt was a pleasant surprise. I am not sure what the car will be priced at, but if it’s priced appropriately — under 30K, I’d be interested.