Archive for the 'Media training' Category

Big Scary Monsters

April 2, 2008

When I first started in PR a few years back, one of my favourite tasks was doing the ‘sell in.’ At the time I was doing Financial PR and when we did, on the rare occasion, do a sell-in, we had genuinely interesting news to bring to the journalist. I had no problem calling up some of the most respected journos and letting them know my client had something they might be interested in and then talking them through what they might expect. I spoke, they listened and everything seemed to go well. I had a review recently and media relations skills once again stood out.

Personally, I don’t think there is much to it – I would much prefer to be able to format a document so perfectly that every decimal point was in the right place – but apparently it is something to be proud of.

That said, I have met fellow PR folk who are terrified about picking up the phone and will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it. One person I know just made up responses from journos once when he got a particularly dodgy story which he knew would get no coverage. To keep up the pretence, he called the talking clock and sold-in to an automated response………

There is only one thing I dislike about calling journos and that’s when I have to do it at a time in the day that I don’t feel comfortable with.  I think there is a window of opportunity to call national journalists and that is between 10:30am – 12:30pm. They’ve just come out of editorial meetings, they’re going through emails and they are at a point where they won’t have decided which story to chase. If you call after that cut-off point, you risk getting them when they are trying to get out to lunch (not wise), whilst they are drafting copy (not wise), or when they are trying to escape for the day (very unwise).

So unless I have the next Watergate, I try to stick to that window. However, as is usually the case, we can’t control when news comes to us and we have to approach in the late afternoon.

On one occasion, many, many moons ago, I called a national journo at 4:35 regarding a press release I had sent out 15 minutes before. Of course, he hadn’t seen it – he was instead writing his piece for the next day. So, and I have taken the liberty of cleaning up the language for the kids, he said: “I apologise, young sir. I have been rather preoccupied and have been unable to peruse your release as I have many awaiting my attention. I am also trying to scribe an article and would appreciate it if you would kindly leave me in solace until it is completed.”

It takes a lot for me to blush, but the language that day would have made even Father Jack think twice. On the flip side, my colleague called someone at the same time and got an article out of it which was touted far and wide. I scratched my head.

Good media relations skills? I think on some occasions it’s down to sheer luck, but don’t tell my line manager that!

Sex, Drugs and Case Study Media training

September 3, 2007

There comes a time in every young PRs career when they get the call to attend a media training session. Torn from the usual place of toil, you are sent to some godforsaken place without wifi and forced to endure hours of mindless role plays.  

These were my feelings exactly as I was sent packing at 4.45 in the morning to ‘witness’ a media training for one of my accounts. As you will be only too aware if you have a public sector client, case studies are the jam that makes those client meetings, go that bit smoother. Had a poor media relations month? That double page spread in Bella with mother of two from Nottingham will save the day.

Media training for case studies is a curious business. Media training your CEO who is probably going to have to deal with that arsey journalist who just wont take no for answer, is sensible. Arming your consumer case studies with skills (or worse, ambitions) to take on Jeremy Paxman will just lead to disappointment when Woman’s Weekly calls to find out about their fulfilling, and yet very normal lives.

My recent media training trip however uncovered more than I could possibly have imagined. Desperately trying not to reveal to the 6 fresh case studies that their PR man was actually a caffeine mess, I made it to lunch through a combination of sheer will power and day dreams of scoring that stunning volley in the PR 5 aside league in Mile End.

However, a surprise was around the corner. Over lunch I chatted away to the new crop of eager media lambs and uncovered more than I could possibly have hoped.

Away from the camera lens my case studies were actually real people, had real lives and were even….quite interesting. I gleaned that one played semi professional football, another had worked in the same job for 27 years and another had made a part time career out of freelancing in films.

Consumer feature editors are forever telling me that my case studies aren’t real enough.

I now have all the beans I need, thanks to a media training trip I thought might result in my death, or someone else’s.