Category Archives: PR Tips

It’s Like Having One Arm Tied Behind Your Back

PR is a tricky profession. You have to have a plan, know how to execute it and be ready for any eventuality that comes along. I have over 10 years of experience in PR (ugh…that hurt) with multiple industry experience. While you can always be prepared for any eventuality, you can still get hurt…just like in life.

Recently (well in February), I broke my arm…my right arm…my dominate arm. Needless to say, it sucked big time. I broke my arm in such a precarious location that it was misdiagnosed the first time. It also sucked (pardon my language) that it was at the very tip-top of my humorous bone (near the shoulder). What that means is that it couldn’t be put in a cast…just a sling. It was literally like having one arm tied behind my back. Only, it was more like having it sewn to my stomach.

Everything changed for about 3 months. Any way I used to do things had to change. I learned how to sign my name with my left hand. I learned how to type with one hand. I definitely utilized dictation more on my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong…there were still a lot of things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t drive my manual transmission car. I wasn’t allowed to walk my dog (for safety purposes obviously) and I honestly couldn’t really cook for myself – no chopping veggies, sautéing or baking a big meal…all of which requires two arms.

Fortunately, I was still able to adapt to this eventuality that I never saw coming. I hated it…but I adapted. And I realized it could have been much worse.

PR is somewhat similar to having one arm tied behind your back (or sewn to your stomach). Just when you get comfortable with how things work, something happens. You then have to figure out how to do everything you know in a different way. I won’t go as far to say, “It makes you stronger in the end.” But I will say that shit happens, and if you figure it out, you won.

 

What We Can Not Guarantee

PR is tricky. We are sales people, but we do not sell product, we sell stories and words. In today’s media environment, there is a limited demand for words. Newspapers are getting smaller, magazines thinner, TV news shorter and filled with hard hitting news and less fluff. Not to mention there are more businesses than ever with new startups entering the market every day online, so the fight for that limited word space is tougher than ever. Now add to that more and more PR firms popping up every day, with access to Cision and other databases, reaching out to the same producer at The Today Show, the same editor at Vogue and the same photo desk at the local news outlet.

That means that as a PR rep, you have more of an opportunity to shine…and more of an opportunity to fail. While we all want to craft the perfect pitch, we have to all admit – sometimes you have a client whose product, service or event just doesn’t connect with the media like you thought it would. Sometimes you can pull a comprehensive media list, write a phenomenal pitch, press release or media alert, have b-roll and high res images up the wazoo, media train your spokespeople to perfection, and execute a supreme campaign – and no one really cares.

It is disappointing to the client and disappointing to the PR rep, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth over the situation. However, the one thing we have learned over the last 16 years of PR (3 years with Mugsy, but we have been doing this a long time) is that certain things can not be guaranteed in public relations.

In every new client meeting we stress the following statements. And as much as we hate to have to say this to clients, it has become a mantra of ours to make sure they understand. Of course, we still have a disappointed client from time to time, but overall, we find that setting realistic expectations is key to a happy relationship.

What We Can and CANNOT Guarantee:

As PR professionals we have contacts in the media. We guarantee we will contact them. We guarantee we will tell them about you, your brand and your story. We guarantee we will share with them photos, video and news. We guarantee to research the media contacts relevant to you. We guarantee we will learn their outlet, their niche, their interests and how to best pitch a story to them. We do not and CANNOT in any way, shape or form, guarantee that they will cover your story. We guarantee that even upon confirmation that an outlet says they will cover your story, that nothing in PR is actually guaranteed until it prints or plays. We guarantee that we will work every angle of your story, but we do not guarantee that the media will have the space or staff to cover it. We guarantee that if your story IS covered, it is still not a guarantee that it will translate to sales. However, we would not work with you if we did not believe in what you are selling, and we will represent you with as much passion as we would if we were selling our own story – and THAT we guarantee.

 

Embrace Your Monday

Mondays may not be your favorite day of the week, but it comes around every 7 days so you might as well embrace it. So instead of feeling the #MondayBlues…It’s time to get your #MotivationMonday on!

 

I won’t lie that Monday mornings aren’t always rainbows and sunshine for me, but I’ve gotten pretty good and making them a day to look forward to. Here are a couple of my tips to get up and at it on the right foot:

 

jobwindowMotivation-MondayGet your Monday work out fit ready the night before: On Sunday nights, I have a little routine that goes hand-in-hand with getting laundry done – picking out my Monday outfit! I usually pick out some of my favorite accessories for a Monday work day because it makes me smile all day!

 

Peruse emails a little early: Usually Sunday is my “Sunday Funday” time with family, friends, shopping or the beach. And trust me…it will always be that way. However, I do take at least 30 minutes to an hour to take a look at emails received over the weekend. Then I just make a small reminder list for Monday and that makes the day organized from the start!

 

Make your lunch dates on Monday: While most people save their lunch dates with friends for Fridays, I say reschedule them for Mondays! The minute your alarm clock goes off in the morning you’ll automatically have something to look forward to that will also break up your day. Not to mention, you’ll have your to-do list already organized and your outfit ready to go the night before!

 

What helps you get ready for a Monday?

The Waiting Game

The research is done. The pitch is created. The email is sent….and now we wait.

I am pretty certain that PR folks are the most patient people on the planet. We are at least in line with preschool teachers and clergy, right? I mean, imagine the feeling you get when you’re waiting for someone to reply to a text, but there aren’t three little dots to tell you there is a response coming. That is what happens every time we send out pitches for clients to the media, with the hopes that our subject line is intriguing enough to open or our media relationship strong enough to get a click.

When I started in PR we used to call to follow-up after a few days or the next week to confirm receipt and discuss editorial opps, but now that is considered a faux pas by some outlets (another reason why it is SO important to KNOW YOUR MEDIA!).

So again…we wait.

One trick from Mugsy? Use social media to your advantage after your pitch and engage the reporter (editor, producer, etc) on Twitter or another network. Now we want to know – what are YOUR waiting game tricks?

 

Love Your Job!

Happy Monday all! While it’s Monday for Mugsy PR (and almost every other person for that matter), I’ve was working all weekend. And trust me…it’s not because I had to…it’s because I wanted too!

If you are a regular reader of the Mugsy PR blog, you know that I recently purchased a new desk for my home office. While I had it put together somewhat quickly, I finally took the time over the weekend to clean it, organize it and even decorate it!

Since organizing and decorating, I just couldn’t WAIT to get to work!

I did a little bit of everything…from blog posts for clients (and Mugsy for that matter…lol), client reports and research. It was DEFINITELY a lot of fun working this weekend.

If you’re not having fun at your job…it’s definitely “work” as opposed to fun.

FullSizeRender (1)Here’s how you can make your work environment and fun environment:

Organization: It’s hard to work in clutter…so don’t. Work in organized clutter! Before, I had a very small desk and had to sometimes take notes in my lap since I refused to live without dual computer screens. A larger desk definitely helped me…what would help you?

The Right Tools: The desk was definitely the first step and that made my most utilized tools easier to take advantage of. Before, my stapler was in a drawer across the office, the printer wasn’t easily accessible and my weekly notes were in my lap on a clipboard. I still love my zebra clipboard, but it’s not in my lap anymore…it’s right beside my laptop for easy note-taking.

Make Yourself Smile: Whether it’s a picture of your family or friends, a funny card that inspires you or fresh flowers that infuse the room with sweet aromas…you have to find something that makes you smile (or even whistle) while you work. Since I have family/friend pics throughout the office and can easily see them when I’m pacing throughout the room on the phone, I chose flowers for my desk. Anytime I feel overwhelmed or can’t think of an idea, I look up and smile…makes all the difference.

What makes you smile at your job?

Social Media Sensitivity

Over the last two and a half years, we have had several moments where we needed to reflect upon what to post on social media based on the sensitivity of a current event or even a personal issue. Sometimes it is a matter of what to share or not to share (the death of a pet or an illness in our family) and sometimes it is how to share it (a perfect example was how to honor the two reporters who were killed in Roanoke on air this week).

We have also had our share of clients that covered delicate topics from mental health professionals to divorce attorneys to a luxury lifestyle cannabis blog, our copy writers and content creators go the extra mile to make sure that the information put out is interesting, relevant and appropriate while remaining sensitive to the topic. Our most recent client addition is an independent film that goes inside the LAPD homicide department and their connection with the families and organizations in the community to help solve murders in LA county. While one might think this would have a lot of easy content, we are spreading a message of healing and anti violence awareness and this is not an easy task. It would be a lot easier to spread more stories of crime and violence to up the numbers, but we as online marketers appreciate a good challenge!

Our top three tips to writing sensitive content?

1. Revise: Write your initial thoughts and then revise it. Your first post draft might be emotional or insensitive based on the topic material and your relationship to it. A revision or two is never a bad idea to make sure the brand is making a statement, not a rant.

2. Review: Read whatever you write over again before you post. Get a second opinion. We know social media is fast and you sometimes post as a reaction, but it is better for a company to be a minute later than to have to draft a formal apology in 140 characters in the end.

3. Reach Out: Instead of writing your own content, reach out to others to share theirs. When dealing with something like death, illness, divorce, etc – other’s stories can speak the words your brand can’t.

What would you add to the list?

 

The Business of Re-Branding

I love our Mugsy brand, but I also know that one day we may have to refresh it and re-brand. That is a scary thought – whether you are a small boutique agency like ours, or an International corporation. If done correctly, you can open your brand to new eyes and reinvigorate your company, while keeping your current fan base happy. Haters gonna hate, and if done incorrectly, a re-branding can alienate your audience, turn new fans away, and watch your ROI go down the drain. There is no one way to do it right, but there are ways to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. Here are our top four “rules”

1. Do your research. Ask Your Audience. 

People need to have confidence in a brand in order to be loyal to it. Sometimes, your customer’s confidence comes from a renewed sense of customer service and strong product offerings (as seen in a historic turnaround by an almost bankrupt Apple in the 1970’s to now) and sometimes from something as simple as the product packaging or marketing figurehead. Tropicana Orange Juice changed it’s carton design in 2009 and was met with such backlash they changed it back two weeks later, losing profits in the process. Social media makes crowd sourcing and market research easier than ever – do your research.

2. Keep an eye on the trends...Wisely.

Arby’s made social history when they tweeted about Pharrell’s Grammy’s hat. A brilliant move on their part, and the start of their re-branding. Their new commercials have picked up the trend of quirky humor with phenomenal results – an increase of sales! Unfortunately for KFC, their foray into the world of quirky hasn’t worked out and their ads featuring a real life Colonel Sanders (played by SNL’s Darrell Hammond) have not brought the conversions they hoped. See #1.

3. Be YOU (a.k.a. Don’t be someone you’re not).

I am going to guess you have heard of Lunchables. You may have even eaten them as a kid. But would you turn to the packaged lunch to power up before your workout as an adult? Lunchables P3 was a glorious failure when they tried to re-brand as your “Power Protein Pack”. On the flip side – UPS re-branded brilliantly with their “What can brown do for you” campaign, focusing in social media, marketing and advertising on how UPS helps ALL people (the CEO, the parent, the student, etc), and showing that by knowing who you are and showing people how you can help – profits can go up over 50%!

4. Don’t let the media define your brand for you.

A good rule in general – no one should define you, except for YOU. Unfortunately brands often get caught in trends created FOR them. Burberry went through a period of time in the early 2000’s when gang members were associated with their infamous plaid design and next thing you know, the designer label was being banned in multiple locations for gang association. Burberry brought on well known, sophisticated celebrities like Emma Watson and Kate Moss to change the face of the brand and has been wildly successful. Pabst Blue Ribbon did the same. Known in the U.S. as a cheap, frat beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon re-branded in China (known for their love of high end beer) as Blue Ribbon 1844 and runs $44 a bottle. Quite a difference!

There are a lot of branding success and failure stories. Do you have a fave? Have you ever re-branded a company? Comment below with your best tip!