PR TECHNIQUE PRESS CLIPPINGS: The many and varied uses of the humble press clipping

Providing press clippings to journalists as background is such a common PR technique it’s like oxygen: you don’t even notice it. But, as Sherri Deatherage Green reports, PR pros are also learning that the right clips can attract new clients and breathe life into investor relations campaigns

Providing press clippings to journalists as background is such a common PR technique it’s like oxygen: you don’t even notice it. But, as Sherri Deatherage Green reports, PR pros are also learning that the right clips can attract new clients and breathe life into investor relations campaigns

Providing press clippings to journalists as background is such a

common PR technique it’s like oxygen: you don’t even notice it. But, as

Sherri Deatherage Green reports, PR pros are also learning that the

right clips can attract new clients and breathe life into investor

relations campaigns



Good PR people don’t rest long on their laurels - or their front-page

stories in USA Today. Prime placements may be cheered as media relations

home runs, but the major leaguers turn those hits into grand slams to

bring home even more publicity, new clients and investment capital.



In other words, press clippings have many uses.



Sending press clips to journalists as background is routine for many PR

pros, but some argue that reporters aren’t likely to redo what’s already

been done. Even spokespeople for major clipping services don’t recommend

the practice. Sensitive writers become offended. ’It is a slap in the

face of the reporter who receives a clip published by a competitor,’

says former journalist Bill Neagus, a PR operative for Jacobs & Prosek

in Stratford, CN.



Laurie Kline, editor of Texas Technology magazine in Dallas, doesn’t

find background clips very useful. Reading them takes extra time and

doesn’t reduce the need for interviews. ’You have to check your facts

anyway,’ she says. Kline does look for quotable sources in articles, but

she prefers getting e-mail synopses and Internet links instead of hard

copy.



Other reporters enjoy reading what their peers write. ’I liked getting

clips simply because it helped to strengthen the rationale for doing (or

not doing) a story,’ says Larry Marscheck of Willman & Co. in

Jacksonville, FL. Marscheck edited several city magazines before turning

to PR.



When using clips in press packs, don’t include more than five, and never

send reporters articles written by competitors, experts advise. Pitch a

new angle unique to the targeted media outlet. Tom Gable, CEO of the

Gable Group in San Diego, says his agency often sends technical articles

to journalists in ’vertical’ markets like real estate or biotech.



Good clips can have a greater impact on audiences less accustomed to

seeing their names in print. PR pros use them successfully to lure new

clients, attract venture capital and motivate employees and sales

staff.



’The greatest value of publicity is very often not the original audience

but the subsequent audiences,’ says Richard Weiner, senior consultant at

Porter Novelli, who represents Luce Press Clippings.



’Clips are a really good way to market yourself,’ asserts Bill Imada,

president of Imada Wong in Los Angeles.



Imada wooed Sprint several years ago, but it took some doing. He was

sending the company’s communications VP Asian-language clips about

competitors, along with his own English translations. ’I made a big

mistake,’ Imada realized. The company wasn’t calling him. So he sent the

next article without a translation and immediately got a call from the

Sprint exec, who couldn’t read the piece. ’How the hell do you think I’m

supposed to understand what this clip says?’ asked the VP, who ended up

hiring the firm. Now, Imada regularly sends clips to prospects with FYI

cards containing his contact information.



Eric Yaverbaum, cofounder of Jericho Communications in New York, also

aggressively uses clips to promote his agency and clients. Not everyone

reads The Wall Street Journal every day, so if a placement doesn’t

generate calls, make sure potential customers see it, he advises.



Clips can be valuable commodities for e-commerce startups, Yaverbaum

adds. ’Until a few months ago, companies were financed because of

clippings,’ he contends. Craig Olson, communications director for the

WishClick gift registry, says his company has done no advertising but

religiously posts articles on the Internet and sends quarterly clips

books to its retail partners. ’I’m sure that we will be compiling a book

to pass out to other investors,’ says Olson, who expects a ’funding road

show’ later this year. Weiner suggests incorporating clippings into

annual reports and stockholder statements.



Compiling packs for executives may be the most common PR use for

articles.



Neil Getzlow, media relations manager for H&R Block in Kansas City,

e-mails clips to managers every morning. He used a favorable clipping

from a trade magazine to get tax preparers revved up about a new refund

program earlier this year.



Unfortunately, copying press clippings can be fraught with legal perils,

though copyright holders seldom find suing small offenders

worthwhile.



When in doubt, get permission or talk with your lawyer, advises Joe

Welch, a copyright attorney and partner in Chicago’s Pattishall,

McAuliffe law firm.



Companies should be especially careful when posting articles on Web

sites. To avoid complications with fees or copyright infringement, Welch

suggests linking back to originating sites. But online news content can

change too quickly for links to remain stable. ’We would love to do

links, but they are only as reliable as somebody who keeps them up on

the other side,’ WishClick’s Olson says. To get around that problem,

Bacon’s copies and archives text, says business development director

Michael Buxbaum.



Bacon’s also provides customers with links and brief summaries, but

Buxbaum warns that clip services don’t pay copyright fees. Clients who

decide to reprint articles must take care of that on their own.



Companies can pay the Copyright Clearance Center (www.copyright.com)

annual fees for unlimited copying of articles from more than 9,600

publications for internal use, much like nightclubs pay ASCAP and BMI

for music rights, explains operations VP Bruce Funkhouser. Or they can

pay ’by the drink’ for individual reprints. Prices vary widely. Earlier

this year, CCC launched a digital rights management service through

which customers can order reprints, download text and pay fees online.

Dow Jones and The New York Times have signed up already.



Once legal hurdles are cleared, clips become a means and not an end to

good PR. ’What is the purpose of getting press clippings if you don’t

market them in some way?’ asks Chicago’s Jordan Miller, president of

Newsclip.





DOS AND DON’TS



DO



1 Select reprints that present your message most clearly or come from

prestigious sources.



2 Attach a cover sheet outlining a new angle not previously

explored.



3 When in doubt, get copyright permission to use articles, especially on

the Internet.





DON’T



1 Send more than a few clips in each press pack.



2 Send reporters clips from competing publications.



3 Establish a Web link to an article unless you know it will still be on

the same site tomorrow.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.