Public Relations

Let’s talk about pitching; news releases; media training; headlines; and proposals.

Pitching

Whether you’re trying to whet the appetite of a reporter or submit an op-ed to an editor, the act of pitching the press is less art and more science. That is, it can be learned. And I can show you.


News Releases

Never have so many written so much, saying so little, to be read by so few.

What does this sad state of affairs refer to?

Here’s a hint: The hard drive of every PR pro is crammed full of them. And the inbox of every reporter is groaning from them.

If you guessed “news releases,” pat yourself on the back.

The news release is the staple of the public-relations industry. And yet, bound by conventions that suffocate originality and don’t play well with multimedia, most releases today are the very definition of clichéd and boring. “I’m dying to read their news release,” said no one ever.

That’s regrettable — and remediable. The trick: You need to stop thinking like a flack and start thinking like a hack — specifically, like a writer at today’s buzziest news outlets.

As a result of this highly interactive workshop, you’ll learn a baker’s dozen of battle-tested tactics to ensure that your next release sparks the attention it deserves. Topics we’ll cover include:

•    The things you’re doing — which you likely don’t even realize — which drive reporters nuts and make them ignore you.

•    How to correct those obvious-only-in-retrospect mistakes you’ve been making all your life (“because that’s how everyone else has always done it”).

•    The right way to incorporate images, videos, and links into your release, so that people think you’re tech-savvy (even if you’re not).

•    How to write a headline that ignites a reporter’s curiosity (without falling prey to sensationalism).

•    Why you should always write a subheadline.

•    The best — and worst — ways to distribute your release.


Media Training

How do you respond to a hostile question from a reporter? How do you address an issue with which you’re unfamiliar? How do you translate your message into a memorable sound bite?

These are just a few of the issues we’ll tackle in my media-training workshop. I break the session down into five parts:

1. a presentation on the core principles of mediaspeak, replete with real-life case studies

2. brainstorming to essentialize your key messages

3. a discussion on how to answer uncomfortable questions

4. an analysis of your clips

5. mock interviews

The interviews will be taped and analyzed in real time.


Headlines

“Let’s put it on our website.” The refrain is increasingly common, but, as always, there’s a right way and a wrong way.

An amateur will do what’s easiest: Copy and paste. But a pro knows that merely to copy and paste is to deprive readers of the web’s richness. Shifting copy from dead trees to web browsers is both art and science.

The art: To write for the web, you need to be not only a writer, but also a marketer, a designer, and a publicist. The science: To write for the web, you need to understand how people read on the web.

To this end, we’ll review the differences between reading something designed for a monitor and something designed for print. We’ll walk through the best practices of web writing. We’ll study a variety of good and bad examples. And we’ll intersperse exercises throughout so that you learn by doing.

By the end of this workshop, you’ll:

  • Know how to craft and test powerful headlines

  • Understand how to satisfy your readers’ cravings for visual cues, such as lists, bullets, tables, and headings

  • Understand the importance of images

  • Write in a web-friendly tone


Proposals