6 Tips for a Successful Media Relations ProgramPosted by Marian Briggs on August 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM
In the era of bloggers and citizen journalists, as well as traditional print and broadcast reporters, the topic of how to work with the media is something every communicator has to revisit frequently. Given that, I recently participated as a panelist in a webinar sponsored by the National Investor Relations Institute that delved into that topic.
The other panelist and I were asked by the moderator to provide our top three tips for a successful media relations program. Here are the suggestions of Cynthia Skoglund, now with Alliance Management and before that with Beckman Coulter:
- Know your audience - Is it a media specialist in your industry? Is it a local newspaper?
- Develop a relationship earlier rather than at the time of crisis. If you work for a company that accepts doing media relations, try and establish a relationship with the local or industry specialist. Be sure they are grounded in your story before a crisis happens (could be your company or a competitor).
- Fundamentals - never talk off the record (everything is ON the record); know your holding statements; answer the phone - don't hide; brevity is key in some instances.
- For virtually all media interviews, take the time to hone three compelling messages that advance your point of view. Try to return to them as much as possible. Keep them direct, jargon-free and uncomplicated.
- If you are in a crisis or adverse situation, it is often better to use a prepared statement and not make an executive available for an interview.
- If a reporter asks a negative question, don't let that put you on the defensive. Answer the question with a positive, true message.
We all agreed that proactive media relations involve thought leadership, i.e., sharing a company's perspective on an issue or trend, whereas reactive often means an adverse or crisis situation that calls for a different set of tools. The best media relations specialists employ the most appropriate tools for the situation.
2013 NIRI Key TakeawaysPosted by Dave Heinsch on August 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Last month was the National Investor Relations Institute annual conference - three days of scintillating discussion on seemingly countless topics and sub-topics - dealing with major disclosure issues, managing activist shareholders, valuation models, running great road shows, and yes, how to work with social media channels. Here is a rundown of key takeaways:
First, I know what you're thinking. "Dave, that conference was mid-June. Your post is more than a month late." That's to prove a point.
Today, investor relations officers and management teams are at the same disadvantage when it comes to learning which institutional shareholders (the "big fish") have moved in or out their stock. The conference kicked off with this topic. NIRI, NYSE Euronext and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals recently petitioned the SEC to shorten the deadline for institutional investors to disclose their holdings from the current 45 days after the end of the quarter, to two days. Predictably, many big fish are not big fans of the idea, since they give up some trading advantage. IR pros want to fully engage with their top holders - and it's hard to do that partially blind-folded. Will it happen? I think the imperative for an ever-more transparent market, and modern technology, gives this petition teeth and will ultimately force some change. But time will tell.
Other noteworthy topics:
Monetary policy - Lots of discussion about whether the Fed will be able to eventually wean the U.S. off of its easing without "blowing up" the fixed income sector.
M&A environment - Attendees expect the big, headline deals to be few and far between going forward, but there should be a steady flow of bolt-on deals as sectors further tighten up and consolidate.
Investor targeting - It's been said it's a trader's market today, not an investor's market. That means IR pros, if they really want to optimize their shareholder base, need to force themselves to keep pushing their story to a more desirable group of investors and not let their story get ground under the wheels of algorithmic trading.
Buy-side feedback - With earnings disclosure, keep it simple. All investors really want to know each quarter is this, "Do the results or your view of the sector/economy fundamentally alter your thesis?" Articulate your strategy and the metrics you will use to gauge success and, above all, keep it simple.
Sell-side perspective - Today, it's all about corporate access - analysts serving as a channel to get the buy-side in front of management teams. This plays a huge role on how analysts are compensated. (Hey, isn't that what IR professionals are paid to do?)
Social media - Diving into social media is still a tough sell for many IR pros, who prize predictability and control of information flow over everything. Very much a wait-and-see attitude at the conference, despite the recent SEC pronouncement that opens up the use of social media for disclosure. Case in point, some of the hedge funds that were part of various panel discussions said that social media is where they surf for ideas of stocks to sell short!
Boiling it all down - In these days of ever-increasing communications complexity, the practice of IR is still all about the basic equation for what investors prize the most: predictability - simplicity of message, controlling the flow and integrity of information, and giving the right investors access to the right people.
In Social Media, the Easier the Endorsement, the Less Value it HasPosted by Sören Erickson on August 6, 2013 at 12:30 PM
In social media, the tendency is to count what you can count and call that "value." But what's the real value of a "like" on Facebook or Instagram, a "RT" on Twitter, a "view" on YouTube or a "re-pin" on Pinterest?
Without correlating the action to a business goal, not much. For marketing, this means converting that click into another action that sends them further down the decision funnel. For other strategic campaigns, it might be getting them to call a legislator, submit a nomination, join a protest, etc.
So the question is - is all social media valuable? When it comes to social media, the old axiom that "content is king" doesn't refer to quantity of content, it refers to quality.
One social media measurement I find to be pretty useless is LinkedIn "endorsements." LinkedIn endorsements allow, in theory, users to gain credibility by being endorsed for certain skills by their LinkedIn contacts. These "click" endorsements are suggested by LinkedIn and all you have to do is select them. They're far different from the "written recommendations" option, which require time and thought by the endorser.
I personally have been "click" endorsed for "Press Releases," "Social Media" and "Communications Strategy"... three areas in which I have some experience.
But I've also had people attempt to endorse me for "Media Planning" and "Analyst Relations" - things I know little about. For every legitimate endorsement, I get at least two that are bogus. Presumably because they're hoping I reciprocate, people I barely know are "click" endorsing me for things I may or may not be able to actually claim as skills. At the same time, people I know quite well are endorsing me for things I've never done. Or worse, they're endorsing me for skills so rudimentary I would never publicly take credit for them. I've talked to several people about this, and it's not just me.
In this situation, nobody wins. The person receiving endorsements ends up with a seemingly padded profile, but lacks the credibility of a genuine recommendation. And endorsers lose credibility by blindly endorsing people they may know nothing about.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn is the biggest loser of all. Well-known as the leading website for professional networking, its credibility has been eroded because the endorsement tool has been so widely abused.
(Closed caption to LinkedIn: Please eliminate the endorsements feature. I understand what you were trying to do, but it's a failure. Move on to something better.)
So what's the point? A written recommendation on LinkedIn is valuable content. It means something. "Click" endorsements have become empty, meaningless and inaccurate.
The same principle applies to your company's digital marketing efforts: The goal shouldn't be to see how many people you can get to blindly click a box or a link. It's much more important to encourage engagement with your brand. Are you compelling prospects to take the time to learn more about your company and/or products? Are you continually engaging customers, or evolving them from "purchaser" to "advocate?"
Start by determining what content your customers are looking for and what information they appreciate getting from your company. Spend more time creating quality content and worry a bit less about spending all your energy pushing everyone to it. Test content against other content. Measure success against the key performance indicators of your business. Repeat what works, drop what doesn't and try new things. Keep improving.
Your customers, and in turn your business, will see the value.
Innovation in Medical Devices Lives!Posted by Marian Briggs on July 31, 2013 at 2:49 PM
It was inspiring recently to attend an event where four early stage medical device companies presented their stories to current and prospective investors.
Will these Twin Cities companies go public in five or 10 years? Will they achieve a successful exit as thriving divisions of large, global organizations? Employ hundreds of highly skilled workers in Minnesota? Contribute to our community? Of course, we don't know yet.
But I was truly impressed by the passion and optimism of the four CEOs. This, despite the current headwinds in med device that we are all too familiar with: the FDA that stretches out approval timelines costing young companies more and more capital; an adverse environment for unproven companies to raise money; and the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
The CEOs acknowledged these hurdles realistically but were undeterred by them. I was struck by the realization that although growing into maturity will have its challenges, these leaders are 100 percent committed to bringing devices to market that will improve patient outcomes.
The CEOs were:
- Jim Buck, Mardil Medical - developing a device for people whose coronary mitral valve does not close properly as the heart pumps out blood;
- Paul Anderson, DermaClose - marketing a wound closure product that speeds healing of large wounds, including those from trauma;
- Rob Cohen, Miromatrix - working in regenerative medicine on fully biological replacement organs for the human body, starting with the liver; and
- John Booth, Spineology - conducting human clinical trials, as well as on the market with several spinal devices and instruments designed to cost-effectively treat lower back pain.
Thanks to Oakridge Financial for hosting the event and reminding me that Minnesota medical device innovation - which we've been renowned for since Earl Bakken founded Medtronic in the 1950s - will continue to distinguish this market and provide better patient care for future generations.
It's A New DayPosted by Lynn Casey on July 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Today we're announcing that Padilla Speer Beardsley is acquiring long-time partner CRT/tanaka.
We've collaborated with CRT/tanaka for many years. We know their people. We have similar philosophies on what the next-generation agency should be offering to clients. And we're excited about what we'll be creating together.
After close at the end of summer, our new name will be PadillaCRT. Measured within the PR industry, we'll be one of the top 10 independent firms in the U.S.
We will have deep expertise in healthcare, food and beverage, consumer goods, financial services, manufacturing, technology, agribusiness and recreation sectors, and noteworthy talent in branding, research, corporate and investor relations, creative, digital, crisis management, social media and mobile.
Our clients will have access to a wider array of talent and resources that comes with being part of a larger firm, but one that has maintained its independence and focus on client service.
Our 200 employee owners will be located in Minneapolis, Virginia (Richmond and Norfolk), New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. And, through our founding membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group, we'll continue to provide our clients with access to superior service and local market expertise around the world.
I'm very excited to share this news, which will bring significant new opportunities to our clients and our employees, and also position our firm for continued growth and success.
Click here for the full announcement.