Archive for February, 2010

Leveraging P.R. Events to Get Media Attention

February 2, 2010

(Originally posted September 24, 2009)

The next time you plan a media event to promote your product or client, you may want to take a look at what the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and their public relations agency McNeil Wilson cooked up in Los Angeles earlier this month. Not only did they create an event for the media to experience a taste of Hawaii on the Mainland, they also leveraged this event to generate television news exposure on three Honolulu TV stations. How did they do it?

First, the HVCB & McNeil Wilson created an exceptional event that had great visual elements. It’s no secret that L.A. is a vital market for Hawaii tourism and the HVCB created a VIP Reception to launch there “A Thousand Reasons to Smile” campaign in Los Angeles so that the media could experience the Spirit of Aloha first hand from the moment they entered the second floor of the W Hotel. Journalists received an authentic lei greeting and as the evening got underway, they were given a traditional Hawaiian blessing performed by cultural specialist Celine Pi‘ilani Nelsen on the W’s version of a lanai – their second floor terrace.

Elizabeth Harryman, Travel Editor of Westways Magazine commented that, “It’s very helpful when the islands come to us so to speak so they can tell us what’s going on in the islands and we can tell our readers.”

Media attendees got to dig deeper into the destination through “talk story” sessions led by local culinary expert and author, Joan Namkoong, and Grammy winning slack key guitarist, George Kahumoku, that gave background on the Islands unique food and music and set the tone for the 7-course Hawaiian inspired menu created by Chef John Matsubara of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The evening came to a Hawaiian style crescendo as the four mayors of Hawaii came together for an unprecedented media moment and serenaded the journalists with a traditional Hawaiian song and had everyone join in.

Second, the HVCB & McNeil Wilson created a plan to insure that the priceless moments of the four mayors of Hawaii were captured on video and delivered directly to the news stations they wanted to target. The HVCB could have just hosted the event, entertained journalists, and left it at that, but they decided to hire a broadcast public relations company, CMP Media Café, to capture the night on video, edit a b-roll package of highlights including soundbites with the Mayors, journalists and the HVCB, and coordinate the delivery of the b-roll to Honolulu via an early morning flight. This assured the video would arrive in time to make the 6 o’clock news less than 24 hours after the event wrapped at the W Hotel. They knew they had something special and it paid off to put the footage directly in the hands of the local network affiliates. Three of the four Honolulu stations that received the footage did not just air the story once, but multiple times. These airings on KGMB-CBS, KHON-FOX, and KITV-ABC collected 405,353 consumer impressions and created a lot of goodwill for the HVCB with Hawaii residents to know the efforts being made to drive tourism to their local economy.

Finally, the “money shot” of the evening for Hawaii residents and local Honolulu TV stations alike was not just having the four mayors of Hawaii in one event and coming together to promote Hawaii as a vacation destination, but actually serenading the journalists with a traditional Hawaiian song. This shot was the lead shot in most of the news stories.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2009. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Attract the Media in Economic Hard Times

February 2, 2010

(Originally posted October 10, 2008)

It’s “scary” out there. Turn on the TV and all you hear about, aside from the upcoming Presidential election, is how bad the economy is. Having weathered many economic cycles in my lifetime, I’ve grown accustomed to the ups and downs of the markets and how the media infuses psychological trauma to the masses feeding the economic frenzy with never ending poor economy stories. I have seen this happen time and time again in economic downturns, so this isn’t new to me. History repeats itself and there is nothing new under the sun.

Without going into the story behind the story of the current economy crisis, I will acknowledge that this is one of the worst, but understand that things do turn around. The market is making a huge correction as it never could have sustained the illusionary gains for the long term (just as in the “dot com” downturn). There are good times and there are bad times — it’s part of the economy and part of life.

Several things you need to know about a bad economy. Even in bad economies people are making money and will continue to make money. Also, the trillions of dollars that “disappeared” from the stock market was just simply transferred into someone’s bank account. While millions of people have been losing their retirements and their “shirts,” that money has gone somewhere – it didn’t evaporate — someone just got rich. Finally, what does this info have to do with a media blog?

Now, let’s talk turkey. The economy has everything to do with broadcast public relations. Clients are seeing budgets cut, even jobs cut. The world seems to be in a panic. Why would the media want to listen to your story when there are such serious issues at hand? But what do smart people do in situations like we’re seeing unfold before our eyes? They make money and make a killing in these markets. They respond to how the world is changing by changing their strategy and approach to business. The world is not ending, just the world as we know it for now. Several years from this day, you’ll be back to a new normal. In the meantime, you have a job to do which is to get your story on the air and in the news, so what do you need to know?

Number One: The News is Focused on the Economy so Spin Your Story Accordingly.
We just produced a Co-Op SMT at the end of the September on Insider Travel Secrets which was about creative ways to travel and save money. We featured a hotel rewards program and a destination that has great deals in the fall shoulder season of travel. Knowing that we couldn’t do a traditional “Insider Travel Secrets” pitch as the media would have perceived the story as frivolous and that their viewers cannot afford to travel during our current economy, we pitched this story to the media as “Tough Times are Great Times for Travel Bargains.” By the day of the tour, we had booked 26 interviews (16 TV, 9 Radio, 1 IPTV) including many Top 25 markets. Our SMT actually hit during the news of the $700 billion bailout story so our angle struck a chord with the stations.

So look at your current clients and existing campaigns. Keep in mind that you may need to go back to the drawing board and scratch current plans rather than forging ahead with a plan that won’t work in today’s media environment. Look at ways to spin your client or service as a solution. If you represent a luxury item and think all is lost, think again. Spin your product or service in this way, “While it seems like most Americans are cutting back, some are feeling very confident.”

Number Two: What You Focus on Expands.
Without sounding like a self-help guru, you need to focus on the positive and stop focusing on the negative as the negative will ruin you and your ability to be productive. The Law of Attraction states, “what you focus on expands,” so if you focus on creative ways to get media in the current economy instead of how hard it is to get media in any economy, you have the first key to standing out during this economic season.

Focus on how you’re going to revise current campaigns to respond to the current media climate.

Number Three: Panic is Not Your Friend – So Don’t Panic.
I produce a lot of live television events and the key to being successful as a producer of live television is don’t panic. When I was producing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, we had a production assistant on staff who was very good at infusing panic on the set and had a knack for making every situation somehow turn into some emergency. I had a choice to either buy into her panic or NOT to buy into panic. Now she was good, so a few times she “got” me, but she taught me a very valuable lesson that I use to this day on the set. No matter what is happening, I do NOT panic because panic does not help the situation. If the station cannot tune in a satellite, don’t panic. Calmly work with the engineer until you succeed in solving the issue. If an IFB goes down, don’t panic. Calmly find a quick solution. If a spokesperson hasn’t mentioned a client and the station is wrapping, don’t panic. Calmly use the IFB to speak into their ear to get the mention in. Getting excited and buying into panic generally has one outcome — you don’t succeed with your mission and you’ve made the entire crew feel helpless and hopeless in the process.

Professionals don’t panic. Professionals respond calmly with solutions when “the sky is falling.”

Number Four: Prediction – Stations will Come Back to Using More Corporate Provided Programming (VNRs, B-Roll Packages, SMTs).
We all know the ups and downs that broadcast public relations has experienced in the past couple of years due to a certain “watchdog group” and the challenges that has caused in our industry. It’s helpful to look at a little history on this and how history will repeat itself. One of the reasons VNRs, B-Roll packages, and SMTs were so prominently used by stations in the past is budget — stations just didn’t have them. In addition, stations didn’t have the personnel to cover consumer news so the corporate provided b-roll was a win win situation when the story was newsworthy and/or unique and fun. News stations will see budget cuts in the very near future. Ad revenues for stations will be down and so news directors will have to respond by cutting staff. When that happens, their resources will be stretched and I predict that there will be a gradual and systematic return to corporate provided programming (with newsworthy topics). History repeats itself and there’s nothing new under the sun.

What We’re Doing During the Economic Downturn:
We are following our own advice during this challenging economic season. We’re currently creating great opportunities for our clients with Co-Op Satellite Media Tours that will resonate with news stations. For example, we’re producing “Christmas on a Budget: Great Gifts Under $20” and other topics that are responding to the current media focus. We sincerely hope that our clients will see how to use these TV tools to generate great broadcast P.R. for their products, brand or service.

If you need to be “talked off the ledge,” or need help revising current campaigns, email me at mschwab@cmpmediacafe.com and we’ll set up a complimentary consultation.

Posted by Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2008. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

Clif Bar and PapaJohn’s Cut Through Newsroom Clutter and Get On-the-Air – How They Did It

February 2, 2010

(Originally posted August 20, 2008)

As I was watching the local KABC 6pm news on Monday in Los Angeles, I saw a tease for an upcoming segment on how to recycle your energy bar wrappers. The video used for the tease featured Clif Bars and looked like video from a b-roll package, but was this a b-roll feed or was it “something else?” Either way, I was interested for two reasons: #1 – I am a fanatic about recycling. #2 – Since it’s more and more challenging to get a b-roll package on-the-air in a climate increasingly “timid” about using corporate provided video, I was really interested to see how this rather commercial story featuring a brand name caught the eye of KABC.

A quick Google search followed by a couple of short phone calls and I got to the bottom of the story behind the story. The tape piece actually originated at KGO (ABC) San Francisco where it was then picked up for the ABC newsfeed. The in-house Clif Bar P.R. department had released a press release on the story in February of this year and it has been making a significant splash in print and online media. They had persistently pitched the story locally with KGO and then the timing finally clicked. Persistence paid off. This is not uncommon as when I worked as a producer for ABC, that’s how things would sometimes happen. A press kit or release might sit on my desk for several months as I liked the pitch well enough to hold onto it, but it wasn’t “breaking news.” Then all of sudden, it would become relevant to what we were doing (or we had a “slow” news day) and the story was alive.

Yes, persistence did pay off for Clif Bar, but if it wasn’t a good story, all the persistence in the world wouldn’t have motivated KGO to send their camera crew to the Clif Bar offices. (To see the KGO feature click here) So why did this story finally get on the air? Several reasons, first, the locally based company, Clif Bar, went to their hometown station to pitch the story. Network affiliates love local stories and since Clif Bar is based in the Bay Area, this was the first “hit.” Stations are often more apt to feature big companies if they are right in their own backyard. Second, Clif Bar is “the first energy bar to recycle wrappers” and in a rather non-traditional way. This is a winning angle because not only are they “the first,” but they are also on message to something big in the hearts of San Franciscans – recycling. They are, after all, the first city in the country to outlaw “evil” plastic grocery bags. Throw in the local fundraising element that gave the viewers a reason to care and show how you can take one great cause – recycling – and combine it with fundraising for another great cause and it’s great television. What really gave this story “legs” was when it got picked up on the ABC newsfeed so that it was no longer just a local story, but it was strong enough to get on the air in other major markets.

Posted by Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2008. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

Making YouTube Work for Your P.R. Campaign

February 2, 2010

(Originally posted August 16, 2008)

The world of broadcast public relations is constantly evolving as new technologies keep exploding onto the scene. From podcasts, webcasts, blogging and social networking devices, the public relations community has been searching for a way to harness the power of the internet.

Many production companies offer to put your VNR, B-Roll package or Generic SMT interview on the Internet video outlets like YouTube and Google, but is this really effective? Do you really think someone’s going to watch one of these boring segments and tell there friends, “You gotta see this?!?!?” Not unless you have some VERY unusual and compelling video.

If you’re having a hard time thinking outside the box, a picture (or should I say video) is worth a thousand words.

Today, in my inbox, I stumbled across a great YouTube video that was a perfect example on how to make YouTube work for your P.R. campaign. This video has all the right elements: it’s funny, it’s entertaining, and it says, “You gotta see this!” so you’ll tell your friends. What makes this really work is that it’s for a non-profit (ahaworks.org – Alliance for Human Action) with a “social” message about the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. You’d think that this might be boring, but not so – especially when you combine creativity with humor. I’m just surprised that it’s had only a little over 220,000 views. So take a look at “Help! Cat Music Video (Click Here)

One final question. So how did this video end up in my inbox? This one came in because I opted in for a newsletter from a vet (Dr. Jon) who answers lots of cat questions. As I happen to be a cat “owner,” this is targeted to a specific audience. You’ll notice that the link was to the Pet Place website and not YouTube since PetPlace.com embedded the video on their webpage. To really be effective, you’ll want to reach websites like Dr. Jon’s that target your audience and that will help your message go viral with the website’s subscriber base. Then Dr. Jon’s subscribers (along with other sites like his) will share the video with their friends and family because it’s fun and entertaining. They might even blog about it or embed it on their myspace or facebook page –like I’ve already done.

So the sky’s the limit! Create away! Contact us and we’ll help you brainstorm a great idea!

Posted by

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2008. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Take NBC Beijing Olympics Coverage for Granted

February 2, 2010

(originally posted August 11, 2008)

Late last week (August 6th to be exact), our company received a call from a client to produce a live satellite broadcast from Beijing for the following week with an Olympic Gold Medal winner. In almost any other situation, we can spin on a dime for a newsworthy topic and make that happen — as long as we’re not dealing with a communist country where every satellite transmission is strictly monitored and controlled by the government.

If you missed the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics then you missed part of history. Don’t continue to miss history in the making and make sure you tune into to NBC (from the Today Show to nightly coverage of the events). I say this as a television producer who’s been in the biz for over twenty years, who’s experienced at broadcasting via satellite from remote locations around the world and who visited China earlier this year. I’ve produced in over twenty-five countries on four different continents during my broadcast career that’s included producing an internationally syndicated travel show and daily network television but nothing is more amazing than the coverage we’re seeing right now out of China if you have any idea how unusual it is to have the kind of reports we’re seeing on the air direct from Beijing. In the U.S., we’re long accustomed to freedom of the press but this is unheard of in China — true journalistic freedom. Seeing Tom Brokaw being interviewed by Matt Lauer in Beijing with Brokaw’s candid criticism’s of aspects of the Chinese government is simply history in the making — let’s talk journalism in China, shall we?

First, China’s sensitivity to journalists is so strong that less than a month before the games began, at least 30 journalists and 50 internet users were being detained in China and any writer, producer, journalist or media professional is discretely advised by certain visa procuring websites to list his or her occupation as a “computer operator” on the China visa application or they could be denied a tourist visa. Since most people in media use computers, this isn’t inaccurate.

Second, all of the estimated 25,000 reporters covering the Olympics had to go through an extensive vetting process to get a J-1 or J-2 Journalism visa. Once approved, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) supplied reporters with a 171-page media guidebook, A Service Guide for Foreign Media Coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games, but perhaps journalists would be better equipped for their Beijing assignments by visiting the Reporter’s Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics at Human Rights Watch.

Third, what’s it like behind the scenes for journalists covering the Olympics? Well, China’s internet police are out in full force despite promises by the Chinese Government to take down the Great “Firewall” of China. More than an estimated 30,000 internet police are employed to censor internet websites and restrict access to “objectionable” sites and it’s been very problematic for reporters currently in Beijing. What’s objectionable? Anything with personal opinions (like blogs) and any media that may criticize the Chinese government and the biggest taboo word? You guessed it… “T-I-B-E-T.” As a matter of fact, our company website is blocked in China because it contains the word “media” so my American friend who lives in Beijing cannot view our website. The day I arrived in Beijing in early May was actually one of the first days the censors unblocked certain websites and allowed access to BBCNews.com and other “controversial” internet news sites. However, according to some recent reports, access has been unpredictable to the BBC website and others – especially those having a non-complimentary story on China.

Finally, here’s the thing – in the U.S., we’re accustomed to seeing live broadcasts from around the world and it looks so easy. We take it for granted. But just as the Olympic athletes that make swimming, diving, bike racing, and gymnastics look so easy (though it took YEARS of practice for these amazing feats), the transmissions you’re seeing out of China look easy, but NBC spent years of planning with the Chinese government for you to see history in the making. Enjoy it!

One very personal note: While I was in China, the Chinese people were so excited and proud to be hosting the Olympics. The public in general loves Westerners and I was often stopped at various locations and asked to be in a photo with them so they could have a photo with a Westerner. I was enchanted with this country and it’s people. Americans are often identified overseas with what our government does and so are, most unfortunately, the Chinese. Don’t make this mistake.

Photo (above): Russia Today interviewing a man in front of the Water Cube, Beijing, China (Photo credit Sara Pfau.)

Posted by

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2008. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.