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May 14, 2015

How to Secure Media Coverage When There Are Fewer Journalists To Pitch

By Rachel Neppes, 1:05 pm
media pitching why won't journalists respond to my pitch


Anyone who practices public relations knows how competitive it has become to secure quality media coverage these days. This is the direct byproduct of a shrinking media landscape and the explosion of technology that is constantly inundating us with information from every direction.

But here’s another reason – more and more of the PR professionals vying for the same coverage are journalists themselves, some of them even Pulitzer Prize winners – among the most masterful communicators.

In his recent article, Washington Post Economic Policy Correspondent Jim Tankersley shared a startling statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: aside from a few major U.S. markets, like Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles, one out of every four reporting jobs vanished.

Meanwhile, total employment in PR has soared during the past decade. In 2004, the Labor Department reported that there were 166,210 public relations professionals in the U.S., whereas in 2014, that number grew to more than 208,000.

So how can today’s PR professionals make sure that their pitches resonate and break through, resulting in quality “ink” for the clients and companies they represent? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Do your research: Even if you have a media contact database or research tool for finding journalists, use it only as a starting point when targeting your outreach. While it’s time-consuming, vetting your media contacts in advance is critical in order to avoid sending a misdirected or irrelevant pitch. Know who you’re pitching and what they cover beforehand.
  • Get to the point: Less is definitely more. You have just a few seconds to grab a reporter’s interest. When writing your next pitch, a good place to start is to approach it as if you are writing a 140-character tweet or an actual headline for the story that you’re proposing. This will force you to stay on point and keep your pitch as concise as possible.
  • Give the reporter time to respond: It is fine to follow-up after you’ve pitched a journalist, but give the idea time to resonate. As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to wait at least a couple of days before following up on your idea. And when you do follow up, have something new or interesting to say beyond – “I’m following up on a pitch I sent you about…”
  • Honor and respect the journalist’s decision to say no: Media relations is fraught with rejection. If your pitch gets turned down, don’t dwell on it. It won’t necessarily eliminate your possibility of ever working with that journalist again. You can always approach him or her again down the line with a more appealing story idea that may get accepted.
  • Focus on relationship building: When it comes to working with the media, relationship building is key. This is increasingly true as the journalism community keeps getting smaller. Get to know the reporters that you’re working with to find out what they need and how you can best help them. Remember, they have a job to do, just like you.
May 4, 2015

5 Tips for the Busy Career-Minded Millennial

By Megan Keohane, 2:35 pm

hashtagmillennialsI know, I know. I sensed the proverbial eye roll as soon as the word “millennial” was mentioned. Entitled, inexperienced, obsessed with selfies − millennials seem to be branded with this negative stigma. But, there are many young adults in the professional world working hard to advance their careers and make better lives for themselves. This post is for them.

I understand how overwhelming it can be to balance a full-time job (and maybe even a second job) while trying to “find your way” in the real world – buying/renting a house, considering marriage and kids, paying off student loan debt, etc. Sometimes, it can feel impossible. But, it’s not. As this Fast Company article describes, busy people often get more things accomplished.

Last week, BPR agency President Anne Buchanan – inspired by Arianna Huffington – explained the importance of countering a stress-filled life with taking care of our minds, bodies and souls. So, how do you take care of yourself in the midst of wanting/needing to accomplish everything else? Here are a few ways busy millennials can make it all happen:

  1. Plan Ahead

    This is something I still struggle with. But when I do plan ahead, I find that my day runs much more smoothly. Packing a lunch the night before, pulling out your outfit, making a life to-do list (e.g. call the doctor, pick up groceries, pay bills) and anticipating a block of “me time” can make a huge difference in how your day feels. When I don’t plan ahead, I find myself feeling panicked, more stressed and often less productive. Getting as many things in place ahead of time and having an understanding of what needs to be done can lighten a mood and make for a more productive day. That said…

  2. Remain Flexible

    Especially in PR, it can be tough to plan a firm work-life schedule when you don’t work a typical 9-5 job. So although you may know WHAT you have to accomplish, it helps to remain flexible about WHEN it will get done. For instance, you may plan to go for a run outside in the beautiful weather at 5:30 right after work. But then, you get pulled into a last minute event or meeting and that plan is shot. So what do you do? You can let a foul mood take over, or you can see that there are positive options. You may decide that you’ll run on the treadmill later, or even give yourself a pass and unwind with a glass of wine when you get home. Look forward to something different instead of harping on what can’t be changed.

  3. Celebrate the wins

    Signed a new client? Have a glass of bubbly. Placed your client in the New York Times? Take two minutes to do a happy dance. Cleared out your overflowing inbox? Pat yourself on the back. Every win – big or small – deserves to be celebrated. After all, these are the reasons we love our jobs, right? Sparking or maintaining a positive mood can make a huge difference in how effectively and efficiently other tasks get accomplished.

  4. Keep looking ahead

    This one is a biggie. Young adults often find themselves overworked and still unable to pay rent and bills. It can be a draining feeling to find you’re working as hard as you can, but still struggling to “make it.” Karma has a funny way of working out. If you keep being the best you can be, it will pay off. How many 20-somethings make six figures, live debt-free and only work 40 hours? It will get easier.

  5. Remain humble

    Especially as we advance in our careers, it can begin to feel like we know more than we really do. Remember that there is always something to learn and somebody to thank. You’ll be surprised and impressed with yourself when you see how much you can learn. And when you start feeling stuck, remember there is always someone who cares, is proud of you and more than happy to help. So even if it’s six weeks away and just for an hour, take time to see the family and friends who helped you become who you are today.

Any other tips for helping young adults navigate the ever-challenging work-life balance?

April 15, 2015

Thank You, Arianna Huffington

By Anne Buchanan, 10:03 am

I got eight hours of sleep last night.

And I have Arianna Huffington to thank for it.

Two nights ago, our entire team attended a World Affairs Council of Philadelphia event at which Arianna Huffington was the featured speaker. A political icon turned publisher – she’s co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Huffington Post – she certainly has plenty to say about world events, political affairs, pop culture and journalism.

Tweets arianna huffington world affairs council of philadelphia on redefining success

Instead, she delivered quite a different message, captured in her newest book Thrive (which we all left with a copy of).

Our current definition of success – measured by the salaries we receive and the size of the offices we inhabit – is killing us, she said. We are experiencing stress overload and burnout, and it’s hurting us and the ones we love.

Huffington said the pursuit of money and power is akin to constructing a stool with only two legs: At some point, it’s going to collapse, taking us down with it. What’s needed, she argued, is a third leg of the stool – one that is dedicated to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

She specifically recommended three antidotes to our stress-filled lives: more sleep, regular meditation and gratitude.

As is often the case when such wise words are delivered, they came to me in the midst of an extraordinarily stressful time.

So, when I arrived home last night, after four consecutive 12-hour days involving three major presentations, I decided to honor the weariness of my body and spirit. Instead of heading to the gym, I ate dinner, drank a glass of red wine, and headed up to bed.

Thank you, Arianna.

April 6, 2015

5 Grammar Mistakes to Clean out of your Vocabulary This Spring

By Jen Tedeschi, 11:45 am

As the weather warms up and flowers start to bloom, we can’t help but have spring on our minds. However, the beloved season of new beginnings also brings an annual tradition that we simultaneously despise and enjoy: spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning is the time of the year when we are supposed to rid our homes and offices of the clutter that has built up over the winter and make a fresh start. This year’s spring cleaning doesn’t have to include just scrubbing the floor and organizing closets. Now is the best time to cleanse your vocabulary of common grammar mistakes, as well.Buchanan Public Relations

While using incorrect grammar may seem like an insignificant mistake, it isn’t just something that makes us PR practitioners roll our eyes. In fact, it can actually hold you back from advancing in your career.

Here are five grammatical errors to clean out of your vocabulary this spring, and how to correct them:

  • I vs Me – Mixing up these two personal pronouns is a common mistake. As kids, it was drilled into our heads to always say “Jen and I” when referring to yourself and another person. However, that may not always be correct. Using “I” is appropriate when it’s the subject of a sentence, while using “me” is correct when it’s the object of a verb. To make this a little easier to remember, try the substitution trick: take the reference of the other person out of the sentence, leaving just “I” or ‘’me. ” It will become instantly clearer which option is correct.
  • Lay vs Lie – These two verbs are often used interchangeably. However, they have different meanings. In the present tense, using “lay” requires a direct object, and “lie” does not. If you lay a book down on the table, the book is your direct object. If you lie down on the bed, then there isn’t a direct object.
  • Possessive Nouns – Most of us know that a plural noun needs an apostrophe. However, figuring out where to put the apostrophe is what causes the most trouble. Here is a simple breakdown:
    • Singular noun that doesn’t end in an s – Add the apostrophe before the s. For example: dog’s
    • Singular noun that does end in an s – Add the apostrophe after the s. For example: dress’
    • Plural noun – Add the apostrophe after the s. For example: cats’
  • Who vs That – This instance is a confusing case of using one word to reference a person and the other to reference an object. Although both of them are used freely, “who” should be used when talking about a person and “that” should be used when talking about an object. 
  • Affect vs Effect – Remembering the difference between two homonyms can be challenging, and these two are no exception. Here are the correct definitions of both words:
    • Affect is a verb. It means to produce change or influence someone or something.
    • Effect is a noun. It is a change that is a result or consequence of an action.

What are some other common grammar mistakes that people frequently make?


March 16, 2015

How Did We Get Here?

By Nancy Page, 2:21 pm

During the Middle Ages, craftsmen routinely employed young people as an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for food, lodging and formal training in a trade. Perhaps today’s interns don’t work for food, but it surely can feel as though we’ve returned to medieval times when it comes to the role of the apprenticeship, now known as the unpaid internship, in preparing new graduates for their futures. (more…)

February 23, 2015

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity – Or is There?

By Nicole Lasorda, 2:45 pm

The saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” has been around since the invention of publicity itself (or maybe “time immemorial”?). But, is it a true statement? Can a company do whatever it wants and not suffer the consequences, simply because it garners the publicity the execs wanted in the first place? (more…)

February 16, 2015

The Horrible, Awful, No Good Week

By Anne Buchanan, 3:48 pm

For those who still believe in the power and magnificence of journalism, last week was a truly awful week.

It started, of course, with the downward spiral of Brian Williams’ career after it was confirmed that he had been telling an untruth about a news reporting incident in Iraq. The same day that Mr. Williams announced he was taking himself off the air, Jon Stewart announced he was stepping down as host of The Daily Show.

The week was far from over, though, and the losses still to come took the form of tragedy. Veteran reporter Bob Simon was killed in a car accident on Wednesday night. (This, after surviving 40 days of captivity 24 years ago in Iraq.) And then I awoke on Friday to the news that Buchanan Public RelationsThe New York Times’ esteemed media critic, David Carr – who only days earlier had written about Brian Williams – had died in the newsroom, after suffering an apparent heart attack. Later on Friday, former NBC foreign correspondent Ned Colt died of a stroke in Boston. (more…)

February 5, 2015

The Art of the Apology

By Emily DiTomo, 11:52 am

As public relations practitioners, we are masters of communication, regularly consulting our clients on what to say, how to say it and – in some cases – when to retract it. This week, venerable NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams is facing public scrutiny after repeatedly reporting a false story, whereby he claimed to narrowly escape enemy fire during the Iraq war. (more…)

January 5, 2015

5 Resolutions Every PR Pro Can Use in 2015

By admin, 8:26 am

As clichéd as it may sound, making resolutions is a great way to reflect on the past 12 months and pinpoint areas where you can make a positive change in the year ahead. From one public relations practitioner to another, here are some of my 2015 resolutions. (more…)

December 24, 2014

4 Christmas Tunes, PR-ified

By Megan Keohane, 1:34 pm

I don’t know about you, but my office has been filled with the seasonal sounds of the *NSYNC Holiday station on Pandora for a solid six weeks now (I’m a bit Christmas-obsessed). Although, have you ever heard a song so often that you start making up your own lyrics? Me, too (maybe I’m slightly influenced by Jimmy Fallon).

So, here you go. Four of my very favorite holiday songs, modified to fit into our PR workday. (more…)

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