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Connecting Businesses, Brands and Writers: PR Panel

Posted on November 19, 2013

As traditional and new media continue to merge in the online world of marketing and PR, new opportunities for businesses and brands to connect with bloggers and vloggers are opening up. 

mSummit Conference on November 16, 2013 had a very insightful PR panel featuring:

  • MiYoung Lee (@MiYoungLeeCBC), news host at CBC News Vancouver
  • Raj Thandhi (@pinkchai), fashion and lifestyle blogger & social media strategist
  • Andrea Vance (@wcfmag), publisher & managing editor
  • Kerry Sauriol (@SAHmedia), mommy blogger & social media consultant

Don’t be afraid

Even small businesses can approach CBC, Global, or any of the  big news channels. They are interested if you have an interesting story.

Do your research

You just need to how to reach out and who to contact. Know which department you want: news, current affairs, community, web, etc. Watch the news shows, listen to the radio show, know what kind of stories they usually feature. Find out which reporter covers what topics and if you contact the right people with a good story, you’ll find success.

Go and contact them!

Reaching out can be as simple as calling and letting them know you’re a small business with an upcoming event. However, MiYoung doesn’t pick up any phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognize or is expecting so for her, she prefers email.

CBC gets 2,000 press releases in one day in their general email account. So yes, your email may be deleted before they even open it. They will decide whether or not to open the email based on your email subject line. Subject lines that MiYoung will always open:

  • You’re invited… (to an event for free)
  • Funny, unique headlines (Ex. “Lululemon, we see through you” was opened right away and they got a six min current affairs segment on air!)

Since emails are quickly forwarded, replied or deleted, if you don’t hear back in three days, it’s safe to assume they didn’t like it or it never got read. But you don’t need to give up that easily! Send it again – hopefully a new subject line will entice them to open it up. And MiYoung admires people who follow up. She knows she’s cut throat with emails so she’ll reconsider if she disregarded you too quickly last time. So try more than once!

Know what’s the buzz

Know what’s happening in your community, read the daily paper and watch the news. What topics are people buzzing about right now? What’s the hot topic and how can you relate it back to your business? Find opportunities to become the topic expert or a valuable resource to reporters.

Ex. The news was buzzing about Canada’s golden boy, famous for cycling. He was accused of using drugs to win and he immediately admitted to it. Seeing the opportunity, a bike shop sent out a press release out in the SAME day. Being a local bike shop engrained in the Vancouver community and even selling the same bike used in the race, they offered to comment on the issue, represent their biking club and bring out their members for additional comments from the community. All three of the major news stations were there that same day.

By becoming a resource, you’re helping to make their jobs easier. In this example, they didn’t have to research and look around for an expert to comment or bring together the representative members in the community themselves. Help make their lives easier and send press releases with pride!

You don’t have to be an expert

To become a resource for a news story,  you don’t have to have the traditional education background. Anyone could be an expert! For example, you could be involved locally, started a discussion with the community, engaged with issues and brought light to an issue. You have more to offer beyond your education.

Melissa has a blog called, thethirtiesgrind.com that highlights how ridiculous the Vancouver real estate market is getting by comparing house listings with the mansions you can buy in another country and she’s been on the news and awarded for it!

Do the work for them

Make it easy for reporters to use your press release. Triple check spelling. What you send could be used word for word and printed so learn how to write like a reporter. Make sure your press release has ONE key message that’s easy to comprehend. Raj suggests crafting two ideas for the story and offering both angles to the reporter.

Utilize social media

Keep tuned in with what the Internet is buzzing about. By know what the buzz is, you can jump on an opportunity or stay ahead of the buzz. MiYoung regularly looks for story ideas on her Facebook feed to see what popular videos or links people are currently sharing.

Follow news channels on Facebook and Twitter because they do call outs. If they’re looking for a resource, they might post asking for one!

As a brand, take advantage of your social media platforms. Always be updating your network, be passionate about what you do and make it infectious to your friends and family. Leverage your network by asking for testimonials or getting input.

Remember that your audience wants to see the real people behind your company. Don’t be afraid of adding your authentic comments on social media. You never know what might happen.

  • Kerry tweeted her disinterest in hockey when the city was wild about Canucks in the playoffs and she appeared on the news!
  • Raj made a quick tweet about how her immigrant mother never let her wear a skirt until she was an adult. Someone saw it, thought it was an interesting story and featured her!

Try using your personal story

Sometimes, what makes a great story isn’t about what you’re doing or what your company is about. Sometimes, it’s great because of you – where you came from, how you got here and what has influenced you along the way. It could be your personal story – not your business story that wins. And you might not think it’s a very interesting personal story because it’s your life and you live it every day, but it could be to others!

Keep it short

MiYoung will give you one email screen. If she’s not interested after that (given that she opens your email at all), it’s being deleted. If she’s interested, then she will look at your email attachments. Including photos are good but only if they’re good photos. Otherwise, it takes all credibility away.

Raj tells us about a new concept called, “the social release”. It’s a maximum two paragraphs in an email (one paragraph is better) with the full release attached or linked online.

Do more PR!

Andrea feels that not enough businesses are reaching out with their story. Don’t be afraid to speak up! If you feel that you don’t have enough of a story to tell, partner up with other like-minded brands or organizations and do something new and cool. Reporters are just people, so don’t be scared of them. Help them help you!

And remember, the second you send out that press release and you have your phone number listed, you have to be on standby 24/7. You cannot miss a call from a reporter or they’ll move on to the next story.

Check out my other session recaps:

What Others Are Saying

  1. Pingback: mSummit: Stay Strong & Create Change | SAHMedia

  2. Salina Siu November 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you! Well, all my notes are here for you to copy now 😀

  3. @Eschelle November 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Great post round up of #Msummit by @salinasiu http://t.co/kXe7qKu3sl #yvrmoms #Vancouver

  4. Eschelle Westwood (@Eschelle) November 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Awesome round up!! I should have been copying your notes!

  5. @SAHMedia November 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    RT @salinasiu: My FAV #mSummit session: PR Panel @MiyoungLeeCBC @pinkchai @wcfmag @SAHMedia http://t.co/BsOJdJkHbP Thanks so much Salina!!

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