Tapping into mobile data services, hiring stars, more

With more people using their mobile phones as an access point for news, how can I make sure that my news release is found by those searching on this medium?

With more people using their mobile phones as an access point for news, how can I make sure that my news release is found by those searching on this medium?

Industry research suggests that more than 70 million Americans will subscribe to mobile data service by the end of the year, according to Sarah Skerik of PR Newswire.

"Search engine optimization (SEO) of news releases for mobile devices works similarly to the traditional SEO in that it increases the exposure of a news release by helping to ensure its placement at the top of searches related to keywords in the announcements," notes Skerik. "SEO for mobile devices extends this capability by creating a version of the release that renders quickly to the mobile medium."

She suggests looking for a provider that offers detailed reporting data on which mobile search sites are generating traffic and which search terms are being used by cell phone and PDA owners to find specific releases.

This data can then be used to tailor future news releases to better target audiences through this new medium. Overall, consumer and entertainment news attracts the biggest audiences among mobile users.

Celebrities

What should we know about hiring celebrity talent?

Celebrity power can create tremendous excitement, as well as boost attendance and generate publicity, according to Jodi Wolf of Paulette Wolf Events & Entertainment.

"Start by getting detailed information from your client," she adds. "Take into consideration their corporate profile, target audience, and their budget and production costs, then make a list of 10 artists that are appropriate." The artists should then be ranked in preferential order. Locating and negotiating with the talent's booking agent is a key step.

"Remember that in the name-talent business, an offer is binding, so send one offer at a time with a deadline," Wolf cautions. "If they do not respond, you're free to contact another artist."

Six months in advance would be a good time to begin the process of securing the talent.

Media relations

Is there a best time of the day to pitch a story?

Anyone who has pitched a story to any type of news producer knows that one thing they don't have is an excess of time, says Lynn Harris Medcalf of News Generation.

"Radio news, in particular, works on a clock system where newscasts air at particular times and deadlines must be met or stations are faced with the possibility of the dreaded 'dead air,'" she adds.

For a person pitching a radio station, it's important to find out the right time to call. Medcalf also suggests to "know the clock for the stations you are pitching and don't try to make contact within five minutes of airtime. For some stations, their prep time is longer."

The best solution to finding out what time to call may be the most obvious - simply asking. Reporters will let you know if they're too busy to talk and most likely will offer a better time to contact them. If you can't get in touch with the reporter, there is usually someone else in the newsroom, or even a receptionist that could provide you the information.

"If you keep in mind that you are working on a reporter's schedule and not yours," Medcalf says, "you will have the most success in pitching your story at a time that a reporter is most likely to be receptive to hearing it."

Send your questions to: toolbox@prweek.com. Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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