Our Version of Social Media
Posted on November 17, 2011 by Zach Cutler
The Cutler Group uses social media a little bit differently than your average start-up. Yes, we tweet about pertinent articles we find throughout the day, and yes, we market our company on LinkedIn, but at The Cutler Group, our main goal is to amplify traditional media through social media.
When you receive an e-mail from The Cutler Group, you will find four links to news stories written and produced about our company nicely embedded in the bottom of the e-mail. When a media outlet debuts a story on one of our clients, we immediately send the link to Twitter. Instead of using social media as the sole expansion point of our organization, The Cutler Group utilizes social media to fuel the growth of our business, by linking our followers to different articles and interacting directly with other companies.
The best way to use social media in public relations is to market articles written about us or our clients on different social media platforms. Our goal is that every time a news organization runs a story featuring The Cutler Group or one of our clients, our followers will see the links on our social media pages and use the products and/or services we and our clients have to offer.
By sending these links to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, we intend to reach thousands, if not millions, of social media fiends and link them to traditional media outlets, such as The Washington Post, CNN, and others.
Our Take on Publicity
Posted on November 17, 2011 by Zach Cutler
So you successfully started your own company. You have a strong support staff, maybe even an office that’s too small for said staff. On a very local scale, individuals and businesses are beginning to use your product. You’ve spent loads of money putting advertisements in area newspapers, and you were the star in that one commercial they aired on news channel 4 during the late night special. Business is by no means slow, but also not as fast as you had hoped. Other, larger businesses are starting to outbid you for advertising space. What now?
You decide to turn to publicity, the euphoric marketing plan of low costs and high revenue, in an attempt to continue the growth of your business. But you’ve never called a media outlet in your life, you don’t know how to write a press release, and you’re in need of a lot of guidance.
That’s where we come in.
Know Your Media Outlet
Before you even think about picking up the phone to call a news organization, do your homework. If you don’t already know, find out what types of stories the organization runs, and figure out how a story about your business would be appealing to them.
This might take a little more research than you had intended. Columnists will write about specific types of stories, and sometimes that can mean scanning through many different writers until you find the one that’s right for you. Don’t be discouraged, though! If your organization is well-rounded, you should have no problem tracking down a journalist interested in your story.
Write Like a Journalist
Now we’re going somewhere! You called your media organization, and that journalist you were hoping to contact wants you to send a follow-up e-mail with more information. First, build your credibility! Compile a list of links to different stories that other media outlets have run about you.
When journalists see that you’ve been featured by CNN, News Channel 9, and a prominent newspaper in your area, they will be far more likely to write a story about you, because they can see that your organization is legitimate.
In the e-mail, you’ll also want to include a press release. I know what you’re thinking: “I have to write a press release?! You must be insane!” Well, sanity aside, the simple answer is yes. Reach back into your college days when you spent over-caffeinated all-nighters writing seemingly unimportant papers and bring those writing skills back to the surface. Who knows? You might be surprised at what you find!
But, again, make sure to write like a journalist! Journalistic writing is characteristically concise, to the point, and a little punchy with a powerful lead sentence that starts off the story. If you need some inspiration, check out any newspaper’s website to see thousands of examples of journalistic writing. Also, consider investing in an AP Stylebook, a journalist’s bible. You won’t regret it.
Some important things to keep in mind while writing a press release that should appeal to journalists:
1) Pay close attention to grammar and details. Be sure to eliminate any errors, syntactical or factual, before sending your press release to a journalist. Flawlessness is vital.
2) Write a strong lead sentence. Your lead is the crux of the entire press release. Make sure to include important facts in the lead, but don’t get bogged down with too much information. Keep your lead interesting, informative, and most importantly, concise. If your lead is not intriguing, you’ve lost your audience.
3) Think like a journalist: “Why should I write about you?” Convince journalists in their own language that your organization is worth their time and energy.
Which brings me to my next point. Never forget about the “so what?” of your piece. What’s the take-home of all this? Why are you writing this press release to begin with? Make sure you can answer these questions just by reading the press release. It might be useful to go with the classic editorial scheme here and give the press release to somebody else for proofreading. If that person tells you it’s unclear, verbose, or they can’t figure out why you’re writing it in the first place, you have some editing to do.
Remember the golden days of high school when your teachers always told you to go back to your thesis to stay on track? Same idea here. Don’t stray too far from your lead, and make sure there is a clear, relevant take-home message.
Wrapping It Up
You’ve made contact, you have a press release set up, and you’ve compiled all of your links. You are officially ready to write a short note reiterating why you think your organization is awesome and why the journalist should agree.
Ta-da! Your follow-up e-mail is ready for takeoff.
Congratulations! In just a few easy steps, you made it from clueless to connoisseur! You are now armed and ready to compel journalists of all shapes and sizes.
Building a Media Database
Posted on November 16, 2011 by Zach Cutler
“How did that startup get a two-column spread in the Washington Post, and my firm can’t even afford an advertisement that size?!”
Unfortunately, this can be a common reaction for a small business owner upon seeing another young firm’s feature article in a big-name newspaper. The Cutler Group’s secret: strong publicity.
How do we do it? The first, and most important, step: building a media database.
Now, you might be wondering where you’re going to get contact information for the thousands of different media organizations. Let’s be realistic – you want to be all over the news, from television to radio to newspapers and magazines. That’s a lot of news outlets!
The best way to find a nicely organized and consolidated list of these organizations is to buy a PR software subscription. You have a few options here. The three big names in PR software are Cision, Vocus, and MediAtlas. All three outlets have comprehensive lists and will certain be a strong asset to your firm. There are a couple differing opinions on which software is the best. Do a little searching and see which one is right for you.
Granted, these subscriptions are not cheap. Consider teaming up with different business to defray costs.
So you decided to purchase a subscription. Now what? Build your database!
The first part of this process is deciding which organizations your firm wants to target and what kind of story you want written about your firm. As previously mentioned, there are plenty of them out there.
Start with the big guys (ex. The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, etc.). Chances are good that at least one person at each of the aforementioned outlets reports on your genre of business, whether you’re a savvy tech startup or a budding PR firm.
Once you’ve established your base, try to get a little more specific. Are you providing a service? A product? Who benefits from your business? And why is your firm relevant to the larger world? Once you figure all of that out, you can get a better sense of which outlets are right for you to pursue.
Now, do you want to be featured in a business magazine as an example of a successful startup? Or would you prefer to be highlighted on Wired.com for your awesome new technological product? The options are (almost) endless. So cast a wide, but manageable, net: ideally between 20 and 30 different organizations.
You chose your media outlets; congratulations! You searched for them with your new subscription, and you realized that each media organization has way too many people for you to contact. Do you really need to call the weather reporter at your local magazine?
The best way to narrow down the list is to figure out exactly the type of person or people you want to talk to. More likely than not, you’ll want to speak with reporters, because, after all, they’re the people going out and finding stories every day.
But be careful with the different types of reporters. You probably don’t want to call the journalist reporting on Eastern Europe if you’re not based there and don’t have intentions of branching out there quite yet. However, the small business contributor might be your guy or gal! Try to think logically about this. Your PR software subscription should list each reporter’s field of interest, whether it’s business, sports, or fashion. Try to pursue the reporters that fall into your area.
How Will You Organize Your List?
Now you have the names of a bunch of different reporters! We’re going places! You exported your list into a beautiful Excel spreadsheet (or Google Spreadsheet!), and you’re starting to call people. But you can’t possibly remember the conversations you have with every single person!
Here’s where your Type A personality and excessive organizational skills come in handy! Some helpful hints for organizing these lists:
1) Make sure you can see the name of the person your calling, his or her organization, title, e-mail, phone number, and subjects. Outlet type and circulation audience may also be useful.
2) Consider adding a column at the end for notes where you can jot down how the conversation went, which day you made the call, and what steps to take from here.
3) Color coordinate your list! If the person you talked to had absolutely no interest in hearing your story, highlighting his or her row in red will likely deter you from trying to call back. If the contact told you that he or she would ask colleagues and you sent a follow-up e-mail with a little more information, filling the row with yellow tells you a call might be worthwhile over the next couple days. And if your contact was so interested that he or she scheduled an interview, highlighting his or her row in green will remind you to call back ASAP!
That’s it! It’s as easy as choosing a database, outlets, and reporters, and organizing your list for your own benefit! Just make sure to update your database every 3 to 6 months as journalists have a tendency to come and go.
The Cutler Group, LLC
12 Desbrosses St.
New York, New York USA