Press Tour Secrets

3minPRwithKimberly

I’ve booked, staffed and supported media desk sides, also known as press tours throughout my PR career which has included many big, well known brands such as Williams Sonoma and west elm and many small companies who enjoy a national market presence and have a distribution strategy in place but they lack broad based, national consumer awareness as a brand.

So, for the larger, well known brands, media desk provide an ongoing platform for them to tell they’re seasonal and product story with the goal of maintaining a presence, relevance among top consumer media. For the smaller, lesser known companies, media desk side tours provide an opportunity to introduce an unknown company, to tell their story and to show their most interesting and newsworthy products and services in the hopes of garnering awareness, influencers among the top tier media leading to coveted third party media endorsements.

In this first video blog post of what I hope to be a series of ongoing video shorts, I am going to share with you my top insights and key tips to help you maximize your investment of time and money when considering a NYC media desk side tour!

Video Blog Post:

Press Tour Secrets (video transcript)

  1. Book meetings in clusters by publisher. Most of the top publishers, Conde Nast, Time, Inc. Hearst, Meredith Corporation, have their world Headquarters in New York City where the majority of their media titles editorial staff sit under one roof. Knowing this and booking accordingly will save you time and stress. Trust me.
  2. Two words: Car Service. Build this into the budget when building out costs. Your stiletto loving feet will thank you.
  3. Desk side does not have to be at a desk. Lunch and HH meetings are a great way to meet with the many freelance writers and bloggers that do not work in a traditional office. Everyone needs to eat and seriously who doesn’t like happy hour?
  4. This is your 15 minutes. These folks are popular. Against many odds, you won this meeting against hundreds, possibly thousands of other companies. You have 15 minutes (actually more like 12, to tell your story). Be prepared and go for it. But keep it short and to the point.
  5. Designate a note taker. Not super sexy but this is key. During your 15 minutes, there should be a lot of engagement, information, ideas, and opportunities happening. Have one person who is clearly not the spokesperson or CEO, take copious notes at each and every meeting. That way when you get back to your hotel you can review and priorities all the next steps. This is what you came here for. Do not miss out because you forgot an important detail or failed to follow-up on a key question or deliverable.

PR is not rocket science but the results can be magical. Thanks for watching.

Don’t Call Us Party Planners

Projects + Events
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The entertainment industry loves to promote the image of public relations as an industry filled with glossy, shiny, stiletto-heeled party planners. Think Samantha Jones of Sex and the City or Gwyneth Paltrow sitting at her desk every day, looking perfect and unruffled while waiting for the phone to ring and springing into action only when attending fabulous parties in the late 90’s film, Sliding Doors.

For those of us in the industry, these inaccurate and simplified portrayals of our profession have always been mildly annoying at best. Do we throw parties? Absolutely. Events are a great way to call people to the table and to let them experience your brand and product story in a meaningful, memorable way.

The downside of events is that the cost and resource allocation can be overwhelming. No matter how well you budget and allocate resources, planning events is like a construction project. It will invariably cost more, take longer and hit you with unanticipated challenges. This is not to say that events are not terrific vehicles to grow your brand and to tell your story. Well executed events can pay dividends well beyond the life of the event itself.

How to maximize your investment and garner measurable impact? An intentional, results-driven approach is crucial. Following are some big-picture strategies and tips to help you create an influencer event for impact.

  1. Clearly define your primary objective. Is the goal to generate media coverage? Then everything you do should be a direct connect to that objective.
  2. Who is the audience? If your objective is to generate media coverage than the audience is relatively simple. But media is not a homogeneous whole. Who represents the media already covering your industry? Who might be interested in covering your space? What about media in the social space, including relevant bloggers? Who are the industry influencers? It’s not always about numbers here. Dig deeper, do your research and qualify your list of tier one and tier two media and influencers.
  3. Do the math. In general, plan on 30 percent rate of rsvps from your invitee list. If you are planning a 50-person event, you should qualify and invite close to 150 people to conservatively get you to your planning number. There are exceptions up and down on the rate of return but this is a general, conservative approach. Better to have too many attendees than not enough. Plus, there are always unanticipated contingencies and no-shows. Be prepared to have staffers seated (if it’s a seated event) to “fill in” obvious empty spaces.
  4. Keep the messaging consistent. When looking at all event elements, from save the date, to invite, venue, décor, signage, gifts, food, entertainment/presentation etc., the “story” should be consistent. For example, if you are an environmentally minded company all event elements should be consistent with this positioning. Electronic invitation delivery is no longer taboo for a premium event. If you have to do printed invitations, think about using a vendor that offers recycled paper, perhaps look at carbon offsets for travel and the like. Be consistent in all executables.

Again, these are big picture strategies to keep in mind before green lighting an event. An intentional, results-driven approach will ensure that your event will provide the ROI needed to ensure success. Right now, we are in the final stages of planning a media/influencer event in LA. Will share the fun event details such as décor, staging and entertainment in our next post.

To Gift or Not to Gift?

Projects + Events
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The proliferation of gift bag opportunities has created an overwhelming array of product placement opportunities for companies to consider. The practice of placing a company’s product into select event gift bags has spawned cottage industries among marketers, event producers and PR folks. The question becomes, when does it make sense to place a company’s product into a gift bag and how do you determine if it’s the right opportunity?

For most start-ups or small businesses it’s a matter of scale – can you ramp up enough units of a quality product and deliver on time?  Many of the biggest, high profile ones i.e. celebrity events such as the Oscars, People’s Choice, Grammy’s and the like charge a hefty “sponsorship fee” on top of the products themselves and then there’s the shipping costs to consider. Shipping is almost always expedited, which only compounds the cost benefit analysis.

Generally, I am not a fan of gift bags.  You are competing among many products and if your product isn’t stand out and well branded (unless the brand is Tiffany, who wouldn’t keep anything silver with Tiffany logo) no one wants your logo pen, calendar or t-shirt. Really, sorry, no. So then why place your product if the brand is not clearly communicated on the product itself or packaging?

I do gift bags only when I know I can position the product in a special and identifiable manner. Sometimes, this rare gem of an opportunity does present itself and everything aligns — core audience, right influencers, right event platform, alignment of brand values, ability to execute large quantity of products AND the price to place is not ridiculous (Sometimes the case can be made to waive a fee or at the least, negotiate it down by a reasonable amount so that everyone still feels good the next day).

Recently we procured such an opportunity for our client, BlueAvocado. BlueAvocado is a young, passionate and authentic eco impact brand noted for its stylish and sustainable shopping totes and accessories. The company eliminates many of those single-use, landfill-building, products we use and throw away every day.

We placed two of their most-popular products in the celeb /VIP gift bag at Global Green USA’s 10th Annual Pre-Oscar party held at the Avalon Hollywood. This event brought eco-minded celebrities and Hollywood activists together for a night of entertainment, collaboration and celebration. The evening was a benefit for Global Green USA’s work to build greener, more resilient homes, schools and communities in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.

But of course to make the most of the product placement you have to leverage the opportunity. I decided to focus on the live social media aspect of the event. To prepare, my team and I wrote content for Facebook and Twitter, the two strongest and most active audiences for our client, to post before and during the event. We first explained what the event itself was on our client’s page, leaving a teaser as to why the event mattered to our client. During the event itself, we posted about our product’s placement in the celebrity gift bags.

We began our Twitter campaign by wishing Global Green good luck on their event and began engaging with them as the host. During the event, we shortened Facebook posts to leverage on Twitter as well. I also had my team live tweeting and monitoring Twitter for appearances of the hashtag for the event (#solarforsandy).  As you can see, we hit twitter gold with this exchange. Note to self: Calling someone a rock star eco chick is liable to get you retweeted!

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Overall, this event was clearly and most definitely The Right Gift Bag opportunity for our eco client. Plus now that we’ve worked with Global Green and have witnessed the high-quality event they put on, it will be an easy decision to make next time. Done and done.

One Year One Video

Projects + Events

We put this video recap together for our awesome client, bambeco. Last year (2010) was our first full year working with this emerging, powerhouse eco-retailer.  It is always a challenge summarizing your work in any format, but I think we did a good job capturing bambeco’s story in this short video.  Let us know what you think!

Call out to Vance Spicer, a NY based music and video producer for creating this with us.  Surrounding ourselves with smart + creative people always makes us look good.

Best,

Kimberly

RISE Logo

RISE Austin, PR for Small Business

Errant Musings, Projects + Events

Very often I am asked to share PR insights and best practices.  PR is such a misunderstood profession that I relish these opportunities to share, educate and inspire.  My goal is to break down PR myths, one presentation at a time.   Just this past week for example I had the chance to host a RISE (Relationship and Information Series for Entrepreneurs) session, “PR for Small Business.”

Although, PR should be such an integral part of any business, most business owners don’t approach PR with an understanding of how it fits into their overall business strategy.   My focus for the session was to provide a solid framework for thinking about a business-aligned communication strategy.  That is to say, to create guidelines for all external communications. Businesses need to have a proactive approach to PR as opposed to a reactive approach, i.e. they should actively seek PR opportunities that will move the needle on their business, not just respond to whatever might come their way. In order to create a true business communications strategy, PR should have a seat at the table when business goals are being mapped out.  If not, a true business aligned communications strategy is not a realistic goal.

When I launched my namesake firm almost 3 years ago, I began with a simple premise that has guided my business; I stick to what I know and love and the business will grow.  I was fortunate to have learned the craft and honed my skills while working with some of the most respected and beloved consumer brands, from Williams Sonoma to Nordstrom and many companies in between. An insider perspective is what is needed to create and sustain a brand that evokes a positive, loyal consumer response.  There is no magic bullet.  Understanding smart PR and being able to execute consistently in partnership with marketing is a powerful business driver.

Kimberly Strenk PR is a boutique lifestyle PR agency.  We focus on promising young companies in the premium brand space.  Premium is not about a price point.  In our lexicon, it means that a company delivers on their consumer promise.   Sound simple?  Companies have to do what they say they will do and offer up products and services that delights the consumer.   That is why we are successful delivering consistent and sometimes spectacular results; the story is real. That is when PR can be realized as a truly powerful and strategic asset.

With that, let’s jump right in:  Common (PR) Myths

Common Myths

  • You need a big budget. Social media and proliferation of specialized boutique agencies makes it easier to do PR on a smaller budget.
  • Editorial = Advertising. Editorial is not the same as advertising. Editorial is earned. Advertising is paid.  Talk about ROI!.
  • If I could just get on Oprah. A press hit like this is a gift, say thank you and move onto a sustainable + strategic plan.
  • It’s all about spin. Authenticity is the benchmark. Consumers have a voice because of social media.  Be real, be consistent and deliver on the consumer promise.  A company that relies on their PR agency to “spin” the story will not be sustainable in today’s environment of instant publication and connectivity.
  • Just do it. There is no short cut.Competitive analysis and smart planning BEFORE execution will always pay dividends.

Simple Truths

  • Be real. Avoid hyperbole.  Are you really the only, the fastest, the first and the best?
  • Keep it simple. No jargon or trendy catchphrases, please.
  • Focus is your friend. Prioritize.  None of us can do it all, all of the time.
  • Let the story unfold. As your business grows and captures important milestones, always communicate the vision and let the facts speak for themselves.
  • Share. So busy moving forward and executing day to day, don’t forget to communicate your successes.

Now that we have some basic ground rules, how do we get started?

Getting Started: Internal

  • Who are you. What’s your story.  How did you get here?
  • What makes you special. Understand what makes you stand out from the crowd.  Be able to articulate this.
  • Identify key influencers.  Who are the people in your industry, in your marketplace and in your social circle who can impact your business?  Identify these influencers and prepare to reach out to these folks.
  • Build your network.  You can’t do this alone.  From employees, to vendors and contractors, surround yourself with talented and smart people that can become trusted advisers beyond their individual contributor role.

You’ve done your homework, let’s start communicating.

Getting Started: External

  • Feedback. AKA “friendly bullet proofing” is the first stop.  Ask people in your network to listen to your story and have them tell you what they think.  Do people outside your industry understand your story?  Are you compelling?  If not, why not?
  • Prioritize your battles. Again, remember to focus and prioritize.  Don’t get discouraged and feel overwhelmed.  There’s a lot you could do.   What can you do today? And what can be pushed out?
  • Be consistent across all touch points. Your brand should look and feel the same everywhere. Think about how adults process and learn, as espoused by “Consciousness of Competence” theory.  Basically, an adult has to see a message/new idea four different times to really process and learn it.   This theory of adult learning can be applied to branding as well. Logos, business cards, web sites, FB, twitter and messages all need the same look and feel.  Create an identity kit and share it with all your contractors and business partners who work on your behalf.  Everyone should speak with the same voice.
  • Low hanging fruit. Long-term goals are essential to your business, but short-term goals will serve to give you momentum and open up immediate opportunities. Local based business?  Reach out to your local editor who covers your industry and book a meeting.  These folks are tasked to cover their beat in their local market.  They are always looking for great new products and services to share with their readers. Don’t make all your wins long term: you need some achievable wins in the short term, too.

The participants generated some great dialogue and discussion points.  I encourage them and you to post questions on our FB wall facebook.com/kimberlystrenkpr.

Here’s link to the PPT preso I used:  Austin RISE 2011, PR for Small Business.  Was this helpful?  Do you have other tips or best practices that worked for your business?

Best,

Kimberly