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Archives: March 2008

Six Questions to Ask a Reporter Before You Hang Up

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There’s nothing more exhilarating for a PR pro then when you call up a journalist and they actually want to talk to your client. Given the average number of phone calls and emails we send out on a daily basis, a batting average of .100 would make you the worst player on the team in Major League Baseball, but a potential All-Star in the PR world.

So, the next time you get a reporter on the phone and they respond to the question, “Would you like to speak with [insert client name here],” with, “Sure, lets talk,” here are six things you should try and ask before you hang up. Of course it always depends on the situation, and your relationship with the reporter, the medium, etc. This is also assuming it isn’t a “get back to me now, I’m on deadline and need a quote asap” kind of call.

1. When are you open to schedule the call/meeting/etc?

2. When is your deadline?

3. When is the publish date?

These next three some reporters will answer, others will not and even at times could be offended by you asking, so tread carefully.

4. Who else are you speaking with for this story? (This obviously gives you an idea of what you’re up against, and can help you tailor your client’s talking points accordingly. Also, some clients may not want to be “lumped in” with people they feel they are unfairly associated with, and may skip out on the opportunity altogether.)

5. Is there a particular angle you’re taking? (Some reporters hate this, but ‘angle’ doesn’t have to be a bad word. Maybe ‘perspective’ goes down easier?)

6. What would you like to know for your story? This is a better way of saying “Can you send me questions in advance?” (Be very careful with this one!)

So there you have it folks. Am I missing anything? Let me know.

The Ticker: PR Wedding, McCain Building, Wizards Hiring…

Happy Hour Fun: Press Secretary Spins Wife’s Death

The name Theodore Barrett is GOP-sounding enough to make you do a double take if you didn’t know that Dana “Big Girl Panties” Perino is the current White House Spokesperson.

Agency Owner To Whitney Port: “You’ll Give Up Your Life”


Aw, man. Those girls in the Hills just have it so hard! Like ‘em or not, they’re back tonight, as new episodes of the “reality” show begin airing on MTV. The Times’ Ginia Bellefante has a preview up, and wait a sec, it looks like someone already went on a job interview?

By showing one short job interview Whitney has with the owner of a fashion-publicity company called People’s Revolution, “The Hills” captures the delusional self-seriousness of the fashion business better than any episode of “Project Runway.” “You’ll give up your life,” the owner tells her.

Well then, get ready Whitney. Also, you know People’s Revolution is one of those super hip agencies. How so, you ask? Well, they have a website that just lists their address and contact info, nothing else.

PR and The Beijing Dilemna

[AP: Protesters hang a banner as the official torch relay passes by in the village of Ancient Olympia, southern Greece]

If your clients are involved with the Beijing games, they’ll probably need your counsel now more than ever. After China’s aggressive response to continued protests in Tibet, with surely more to come, the global brands financing the 2008 Summer Games find themselves in an increasingly difficult spot.

Damien Ryan, a Hong Kong-based media relations adviser for Olympic sponsors, told the Washington Post, “What’s at stake is much more than the tens of millions of dollars these sponsors have bet on the Games. It’s their future business with China. Officials here read between the lines, and that’s why sponsors are thinking carefully about their response.”

CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime FlorCruz writes, “In a fierce public relations war, China is fighting back. ‘It’s cranked up its own media machine to tell their side of the story, depicting the Tibetans as perpetrators of senseless violence, blaming the Dalai Lama for instigating the unrest and saying the Chinese security forces responded with restraint,’ said a China analyst in Beijing who requested anonymity.”

One thing’s for sure: sponsoring this year’s games will come with a price, either in dollars, reputation, or both.

Ahmed Chalabi: Five Years Later

ARoston_3_21.jpgThe Iraq war is five years old, the U.S. death toll has hit 4,000, and media coverage has declined, “from an average of 15% of news output last August to just 3% in February this year,” according to a Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism study.

Meanwhile, NBC News investigative producer Aram Roston has a book out on the man who many say “duped” journalists in the months leading to war: Ahmad Chalabi.

From a Roston interview with TVNewser:

“What most of the TV and print reporters weren’t really aware of was that Chalabi’s people used U.S. taxpayer funding to pay all that PR and propaganda,” Roston says. In fact, Chalabi and his team were so good at spin, they were even rewarded for it. Says Roston, “After the invasion, the INC [Iraqi National Congress] and its PR firm won an award from PR Week lauding them for their publicity skills.”

PRNewser tracked down a Guardian article covering the 2003 PR Week Awards, which states, “Then there was the bizarre spectacle of agency Burson Marsteller picking up a gong for best public affairs campaign for working with the Iraqi National Congress – a smashing PR success in every respect (‘Of particular importance was positioning INC founder Dr Ahmad Chalabi and other Iraqi opposition spokespeople as authoritative political leaders,’ read the award).”

Agency “Wears” Their Clients

Maybe PR is different in Oklahoma? From the Edmond Sun in Edmond, Oklahoma:

A new marketing and public relations firm gives its clients the option to pay for a logo on their T-shirts, which they wear around town everyday.

PRNewser wants to know: how much do they charge?

NYTimes Video Blogger “Cat Fight”


Is there a “cat fight” going on between two prominent NY Times video bloggers, David Carr and David Pogue? PR video maven Doug Simon seems to think so, and he has the video to prove it.

Simon is asking folks to vote on who they think is the “Best Video Blogger” at the Times, and as of now, Pogue is leading Carr 58% to 42%.

Ok, so it’s definitely a joke, a somewhat funny one at that, but maybe you could use it as “pitching fodder” with either journalist over the next few weeks?

[Disclosure: This PRNewser counts Doug Simon among his former bosses.]

The Ticker: Changing WSJ, Extinct Careers, Taming the Inbox

Cision for Mac Coming Soon


The big daddy of the long list of PR tools available is Cision, formerly called Bacons. I’ve likened it to an addiction in previous posts though it is the place to build thorough media lists.

With Mac market share on the rise, me included, it seems odd that Cision isn’t compatible with Apple’s OS, or for that matter any version of Firefox.

Safari, no, Firefox, no, Opera, no. How about Internet Explorer for OSX? No.

We checked with Stephen Debruyn, Cision’s VP of Marketing who gave us some good news:

“This is part of the development roadmap, but I cannot quite yet give you a specific date. It’s not that far out, though.”

In the meantime, their Navigator feeds have some good info the changing media.