What are some tips when targeting the media?
"First, target outlets that are important within your industry sector and only those journalists that can help reinforce your overall communications strategy," says Leslie Rutledge of Bacon's Information. "Next, you'll need accurate contact information along with their preferred contact method."
In addition, background information can be extremely useful when making your pitch, she notes.
"While biographical information, such as the college they attended and previous work history, can help you make a connection," she says, "knowing their pet peeves, areas of interest, the best time to contact them, and any upcoming editorial opportunities can make all the difference."
How can we best use radio in a crisis situation?
"By using radio in a crisis, you can restore order and confidence with an audience in a timely manner," says Curtis Gill of News Generation. "The best radio technique to use during a crisis situation would most likely be an audio bite line.
Sound is placed on a content Web site and on an 800-phone line for stations and networks to call and record sound bites. Gill points out that a bite line can be turned around quickly, in two hours, if necessary.
"All you need is a spokesperson available for a few minutes to record a sound bite and a press release or media advisory," he adds. "Sending an audio bite line is the best way to reach many stations and networks quickly and cost-effectively."
How do we determine whether to use a professional event management company when we're asked to create a large event for a client?
"Putting on a successful event takes more time and skill than most people realize," says Jodi Wolf of Paulette Wolf Events & Entertainment. "Before [seeking] an outside company, ask yourself if your staff has the expertise and time to manage it."
If you decide to outsource, select an event planner with industry-specific experience and insight into the culture of your audience.
And you must not wait too long. "For a major opening, hire a company one year in advance," Wolf advises. "For an annual event with fewer than 500 people, it's four to six months. Event planners know how to handle the last-minute event if necessary, but that can be more expensive."
What is the difference between a guaranteed-placement ANR and a traditional one? Which works best?
This is a vexing issue in today's PR industry, acknowledges Maury Tobin of Tobin Communications. "Research indicates that most radio stations do not use ANRs," he adds.
Because most traditional ANRs aren't aired, some vendors offer guaranteed-placement ANRs - or Sponsored Radio Features (SRFs). Producing an SRF for a PR client isn't a stretch because integrated communications often includes both earned and paid media.
"Like a traditional ANR, a guaranteed-placement ANR or SRF is a 60-second news report," he adds. "But in our case, an SRF also includes an identification of the organization sponsoring the piece."
And unlike a traditional ANR, a guaranteed-placement one is certain to air because advertising time is purchased, Tobin points out. "Of course, there is debate in the PR industry about the merits of paid versus earned media, but this is clear: Guaranteed-placement ANRs or SRFs would not exist if radio stations really ran traditional ANRs."
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Lisa LaMotta if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.