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Mixing with the Media

December 20, 2011

“Voice from the Trenches” is written by Karen Euler, director of marketing at TRO Jung|Brannen. A dedicated member of SMPS Boston, she enjoys conversing with readers via Twitter [@karen_e] or LinkedIn.

Many AEC firms’ press releases are few and far between right now, as marketers wind down in hopes of having a true break with family and friends for Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s. Soon enough, come January, it will be time again to think about reporters, stories, and the media coverage we all desire for our firms.

During his portion of a three-part talk on “Reputation Management in the Era of Social Media”, on Dec. 6 as part of the Education Series of SMPS Boston, David Yas, vice president at Bernstein Global Wealth Management and former publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, wowed the audience with shocking media tales from the legal services world that could be encapsulated as “Lawyers Gone Wild.” (If you missed his talk, one of the spicy examples can be found in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog archives, here.) As former publisher of Lawyers Weekly, he advised lawyers on dealing with the media, and wrote a popular offbeat column. Since he worked as a reporter, he knows what they like to receive. His tips for press releases:

  • Write a headline that will get an editor’s attention.
  • Don’t go over 15 words in the headline.
  • Say why the matter warrants press attention.
  • Include a quote.
  • Keep it short and simple.

He also reminded audience members that reporters are always looking for stories, that they often credit those who send tips, and one should keep sending story ideas along, even if the sender hears nothing after the first few attempts.

In October, Elizabeth Padjen, former longtime editor of ArchitectureBoston, spoke with a group of leading architects in Boston on the topic of “The New Media Landscape.”

During her talk, Padjen spoke in depth about the tension between print and online news outlets. She persuasively made the point that both types of media in the architecture field are proliferating: There is no evidence of scarcity. While they may come and go, at any given time there are notable, high-quality publications that are worth seeking out. In her role as a reporter and editor, she welcomed the trend of graphic e-mails that tell and show a story in a pointed, illustrative way. This should be reassuring news to those firms — especially design firms with their emphasis on photography — that have accelerated their e-mail marketing techniques.

Padjen also shared a pet peeve of hers in her tenure at ArchitectureBoston: When a design firm or other AEC firm makes it difficult to locate staff e-mails on their web sites. Does your firm indicate “info@abcfirm.com” as a contact address for principals or marketers? Consider making a change, so that reporters can easily reach the key people whose voices matter in a story.

When discussing the effectiveness of media relations in the eternal quest for “ink,” or being published, media specialist for Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Franceen Shaughnessy states, “Really, it’s the only way that works.” With this in mind, many of us will be finding ways to improve our techniques of interacting directly with beat reporters and in the New Year. There is no shortcut – mingling and mixing with the media is the only way.

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