How PR pros help reporters, viral marketing tips, more

How can PR pros help reporters find story ideas?

Media relations
How can PR pros help reporters find story ideas?
There are a number of resources - available free to reporters - that allow them to find experts for the stories on which they're working. These sites include PR Newswire's Profnet, BusinessWire's ExpertSource, and the newly launched, all which help to connect reporters with experts in a variety of subject areas.

"There's good karma in being able to actually help reporters and respond to a query they generated," says Bruce Mendelsohn, principal of The Hired Pen, "instead of just blanketing them with press releases and potentially off-target calls."

While the tools are a great way to work with PR pros and build relationships, there are key points to keep in mind.

Before responding, consider whether your response will truly help the journalist, Mendelsohn adds. And if you think you can be a good source, you should craft a concise, on-target response that references the article in the subject line and reflects your knowledge of the topic.

Include complete contact information for you or the person you're recommending to the reporter. "This will make it easy for the reporter to take the next step," Mendelsohn says.

How can I determine the right newswire for my organization?
With the emergence of low-cost, Web-based newswire services, many organizations are leaning on their PR agencies and staff for counsel on which wire service is best.

"Though the playing field has leveled and the major newswires offer similar services, there are a few main considerations in evaluating which newswire service is right for [you]," says Brian Lustig, cofounder of Lustig Communications.

From monitoring to embedded video and photos, each newswire packages and prices these services differently.

"Determine which services they will utilize the most and then identify the provider that can deliver them," he adds.

You should also take a look at the newswire's SEO capabilities and compare this with your needs, suggests Lustig. Every major newswire service offers the ability for organizations to maximize online visibility by automating SEO processes, but each does so slightly differently and at a different cost.

For organizations with consistent news announcements, full-service news releases with photos, video, and other services can add up. "Each organization should forecast anticipated news-release frequency so it can appropriately budget for announcements," Lustig notes.

Viral marketing
How can I create a viral marketing campaign that incorporates new-media technology?
When creating a viral marketing campaign, make sure the message and vehicle have the same purpose, notes Michele Cuthbert, principal and creative director at Baker Creative.

"Since viral marketing utilizes existing social networks, it is important to know what technology those networks are comfortable using," she says.

Never use new media just for the sake of doing it. "Each vehicle has its own purpose and its own voice, and can be very effective when used in the right way," Cuthbert adds.

When introducing a viral marketing campaign that utilizes new media, it is vital to create interactivity between the user and information, such as having an online community for customers to interact on your Web site.

"Creating a page on a social networking site can cause word-of-mouth buzz and will create awareness through the self-replicating viral process," explains Cuthbert.

Send your questions to: Please contact Beth Krietsch if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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