How can I use the news to develop stories?
It's not always easy to develop a news angle that resonates with editors and producers, but there are simple ways to increase the odds. Ris‘ Birnbaum, founder of Zcomm, says you need to be a news hound.
"Have the TV on and check online news sites whenever possible for stories that relate to your clients," she suggests. "If you can leverage breaking news with a client story, you've got a better chance of placing it."
For example, in the case of the death of Kanye West's mother after plastic surgery, plastic surgeon clients on your roster can talk about safety issues.
Another way to work the news is to customize it for your clients. "If there's a study on heart disease and you have a heart-drug client," notes Birnbaum, "try to pitch the story with local statistics on heart disease."
If it's a slow news period, suggest some client-sponsored surveys, developing off-beat questions and answers which tend to appeal to the media.
And keep sending clients relevant news stories, she adds. You're doing them a favor by keeping them updated.
What radio trends can we expect to see in 2008?
Next year, you can expect to see continued technological advances in radio, like HD Radio and continued streaming on the Web, says Lynn Harris Medcalf of News Generation.
While a date for conversion of radio to digital has not been set by the FCC, many stations are gearing up by implementing some digital technologies into their current programming and looking at streaming and other digital formats that will help them with that conversion down the road.
Radio stations' current goal is to maintain their audience throughout the day. "So having their programming available on the Web and via podcast is a way to extend listenership and stay ahead of the curve," adds Medcalf. Most stations have incorporated a Web component to their program offerings and have on-air personalities mention the Web site to drive traffic and interest.
Stations will continue to look for topics that their listeners can use in their everyday lives.
Green issues will continue to be hot topics for radio in the coming year. "And remember, when you think of radio, think local," she notes. "If you have local statistics for your story, use them. Radio is always looking for that local context."
What's the most effective way to reach out to a celebrity about attending a media event?
It seems pretty obvious, but the best path is to identify and then contact the best representative for that individual, which is usually an agent, manager, or personal assistant, says Glenn Rosenblum of Celebrity Access.
Working with a celebrity broker can also help with time restraints for the event-planning process, he adds. There are always several routes to a celebrity. You need to know the best ways to get to the right person. Thus, time lines are key to a successful event.
If the media event is charity-driven, that will help enormously in getting the attention and interest for a celebrity to attend, Rosenblum notes. "If the event is not charity-driven, I always suggest an honorarium that can be given to the star's choice of charity," he notes.
"The top A-list celebrities are inundated with requests and offers. You have to make your event stand out and rise to the top of their piles of requests."
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.