World’s First E-Ink Magazine Cover

Popularity: 21% [?]

Decor Editors Share Publicity Tips

I attended PR-Net last night in Green Point, Cape Town, where several top decor editors spoke about the unique selling points of their specific home/decor magazines, plus tips on how they’d like to interact with PR people and publicists.

I’ll share some of the tips with you here:

Anneke Blaise, Home/Tuis magazineAnneke Blaise from Home/Tuis magazine says that she really appreciates face-to-face contact. She wants to know who she’s dealing with and invites PR practitioners to visit their offices once a month, or whenever appropriate to discuss ideas, show products, or simply just put a face to an email.

Bianca Du Plessis, Conde Nast House & Garden

Bianca Du Plessis from Conde Nast House & Garden says that she finds it surprising that people don’t realise that they work three months in advance. That means that the issues for December and January have already been sorted. Bianca suggests that PR people should find out what issue they’re working on and enquire about the feature calendars.

Bianca also explained how tricky gardening features can sometimes be. Because of their three months production schedule, a picture of a beautiful Spring garden in full bloom wouldn’t reach them in time for the Spring edition. So unless they have a good library of pics, they sometimes work on their gardening features one year in advance.

Johan van Zyl, Visi“Be concise” is the advice from Johan van Zyl of Visi. They have a small editorial team and he fills the roles of three people, therefore he says he often suffers from “inbox rage x3″. Johan recommends that you familiarise yourself with the magazine and then speak to the right person depending on the section you want to appear in. Visi is different in several ways from other decor magazines, so Johan is looking for an angle (preferably exclusive) that would be perfect for the Visi reader.

Lauren Shantall, Elle DecorationBoth Johan and the next speaker, Lauren Shantall of Elle Decoration, spoke about the “non-exclusive exclusives”. No magazine wants to feature something that appears in several other competing titles at the same time. They lose credibility with their readers and you will certainly lose the editor’s trust. All that they ask is that you are honest about what other magazines plan to feature your product/brand/company so that they can decide what type of angle would work best for them.

On this topic, Brian Berkman raised a valid point. Journalists also have a responsibility here to answer PR emails on whether they plan to use the content or not. When you don’t get an answer, it’s difficult to know when you can start pitching the idea to other titles and you might miss the production deadline in the meantime. As Brian said, a “no” is better than hearing nothing.

Back to Lauren, she says that she prefers to receive the high res pics upfront, as it saves her time. Please note though that this is certainly not the case for all journalists - they won’t be happy if you crash their inbox. Use Encyclomedia’s media database research service to give you all the journalists’ individual  preferences and pitching tips.

Lianne Burton, House and LeisureLianne Burton from House and Leisure says that they aim to promote all the positives of life in South Africa. The new look magazine launches in January 2009 and, given that the competition was sitting right next to her, she couldn’t really reveal too much except that the new slogan is “stylish SA at home and play” and it includes a beauty section. They’re big into eco angles, so there are some great PR opportunities there too.

Thanks to Mike from Wesson Digital Photography for the photographs.

Popularity: 33% [?]

Beware The Bold Button And Bad Formatting

Formatting your email with bullets, bold, italics and caps can be functional and useful when used (very, very sparingly) at the right times. But, if you don’t have anything really gripping to say, then putting every second phrase in bold is certainly not going to help your cause.

This was exactly the type of press release a marketing journalist received recently. About 50% of the text was in bold. And just to add a little extra emphasis, the headline and footer were in red. I felt a little like a deer staring into blinding headlights, I wasn’t sure where to start or what I was supposed to do…except to close the email. Phew, it was far too much effort to try and read. See for yourself, here’s a sample of the press release:

[Name], Managing Director, [company name] and [company name], will bring his expertise in the independent sector to [event name]. [Name] serves as the elected Vice President of WIN (Worldwide Independent Network), Chairman of the Board for AIR (Australian Independent Record labels association) and is also a current board member of MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival), PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia) and ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association).

This reminds me of the comments that Dorin Bambus, previously the editor of Blunt, said in some Encyclomedia research a while back on PR best practices. Commenting on email formatting, he said:

Press releases should make the reader think something is cool and interesting and newsworthy, not alert the reader to the fact that the writer thinks this to be the case. I can read, I don’t need every IMPORTANT piece of info “signposted” for me. It’s very annoying.

Popularity: 12% [?]

Great Example of a Pre-Pitch PR Introduction

Before sending out your press releases to the journalists in your media database, have you ever tried sending an introductory email to ask whether the journalist would in fact be interested in receiving the type of press releases and angles you have planned?

A PR professional named Scott Duehlmeier did just that when he sent a short, descriptive email to a well-known blogger, Chris Brogan, asking if Chris would be interested in receiving further emails with PR announcements from their clients.

Have a look at Scott’s email on Chris’ post “Great PR manners go a long way”. Chris refers to it as “a very polite, very personal-seeming opt-in letter”, which came across well because it was “human-sounding”.

Unfortunately, far too many journalists (and bloggers) are on the receiving end of the spray-and-pray press release distribution approach. Even though software can automatically enter the journalist’s name into the email, they can mostly tell that they’re part of a mass mailing, especially if it starts with “I thought you’d find this interesting”.

Nothing beats personalised, thoughtful communication if you want a good response from the journalists. Of course, if all you’re looking for is a long list of media contacts to tick off and show to your client, then you may need to revisit what your PR goals are.

For some great tips on how journalists like to be pitched to, sign up for this free media pitching tips email series. It’s full of advice on various PR-related topics from editors, producers and journalists across South Africa.

Popularity: 19% [?]

Have You Prepared Your Gift Guide Pitches Yet?

Christmas giftsMedia with long lead times, like consumer magazines, will be busy working on their end-of-year, Summer editions now. Those magazines with features or supplements covering December gift guides will need to start gathering their products and ideas now in August, while some would’ve already started in July.

If you have a product, brand or experience that you think will fit in the Christmas gift guides, make sure to do your research straight away to find the media you need to pitch to. Remember that many magazines will prefer to take their own photographs of the products to maintain consistency and quality. Once you’ve successfully explained why your product would be a good fit for the publication and the target audience, make sure to have the product ready to courier. If they don’t receive it in time for their photo shoots, you’ll miss out on a great opportunity.

Don’t send unsolicited products to the editors. They’re bound to receive so many boxes, packages, media kits and gifts, that your product might just get lost. Rather get in touch first and see what the journalists are looking for and then find an angle of how your product could match their needs.

Important question to ask yourself before pitching your product for the first time: Who would use/buy my product?
Be specific with your answer. Hint - there is no such thing as “the general public”, that creature does not exist. There are hundreds of different publications for a reason, because every person has different interests, values and priorities. Once you know who your real target audience is, only contact those media that actually talk to your target audience. Being relevant is critical if you want to build a good relationship with the journalist.

For help in finding the right media and the most relevant media contacts, have a look at Encyclomedia’s media database research service, where you can customise any media database you need and Encyclomedia will verify all the information just before you receive it.

Pic source: Flickr

Popularity: 8% [?]

The Art of Communication - It Starts with Values

I’ve attended two of Dr Demartini’s talks this week and I thought I’d give you some quick feedback before his third Cape Town talk tonight - in case you’re still um-ing and ah-ing about where to spend your Friday night.

Our relationships with people, whether personal or professional, can often be filled with so many misunderstandings and misperceptions, which prevent us from communicating effectively. On Wednesday night, Dr Demartini spoke to us about how to empower relationships and master the art of communication. Although it sounds pretty serious, he had us in stitches of laughter with his sometimes subtle, sharp innuendos and other-times overt, candid stories and illustrations. He certainly entertains as much as he teaches and inspires!

The Nature Of A Good Relationship:
In talks I’ve done for companies about media relations, I’ve covered the fact that a good relationship simply means that you give someone something that they really want, and then they’ll help you get what you really want. It could be giving someone money for a service you need; or giving journalists good, relevant content to fill their magazines, helping you get publicity. It’s all about giving and receiving. But when it comes to communication, we need to be aware and artful in how we “give” our message, so that we can “receive” the response we’d like.

Value Determination:
It comes down to awareness of your own values and those of the people you have relationships with. By values, I don’t mean the high ideals of honesty, ethics, liberty, etc. Rather, Dr Demartini talks about your priorities and the things (or people, activities, goals) that are most important to you. These are normally the things that you spend your most time and money on, how you fill your space and spend your energy.

For example, a stay-at-home mom probably has her priorities fixed on her kids and will spend her money on school books and kids’ clothes before even thinking of luxuries like a gym membership. A training athlete values his fitness so much that he couldn’t imagine not going to gym or buying the latest technology in running shoes and wouldn’t even notice the 50% discount on kiddies sneakers. Another clue to picking up on people’s values is to listen to what direction they steer a conversation.

Whatever is highest on your values is where you have the most order, motivation and inspiration. On the other side, you tend to procrastinate on the things that are lowest on your values, which have the most disorder and chaos. Every single person’s values are different and they act as lenses through which we view and filter the world around us. If you expect people to live and react according to your unique values, you’re living in a fantasy and setting yourself up for disappointment.

However, once you recognise different people’s priorities, you can start to communicate in a way that builds lasting and meaningful relationships, whether it’s in business, social circles or family.

Gosh, there’s so much more to this - Dr Demartini speaks really fast so you can imagine how much he covered in his 1hour 30 minute talk. Have a look at this video clip so you can hear him explain how you can determine your own values.

Art of Communication:
The art of communication is in communicating your values in terms of the values of others. Ask yourself, how can I phrase what I want so that it serves the other person’s values in some way? What’s important to me and what’s important to them and how can I link the two?

Tonight he’ll be giving a 1hour talk, followed by the screening of the movie The Opus. His talk, entitled Activating Vision, will cover how you can be the difference and live an inspired and amazing life.

It’s at the BOE Conference Centre (next to the Clock Tower, V&A Waterfront) at 19:00. Read more details on

Popularity: 10% [?]

Mastering the Art of Communication

For those Capetonians interested in building greater networks, learning how to positively influence people and how to improve your professional and personal relationships, keep your schedule open on Wednesday night.

Dr Demartini, international authority on maximising human awareness and potential (among many things), is on his way to Cape Town this week to present a few talks and seminars. On Wednesday he’ll be talking about “Empowering relationships - mastering the art of communication”. It’s at 19:30 at the Westin Grand (next to the CTICC).

Dr John DemartiniAlthough I’ve heard him speak on this topic before, I’m not missing this one, because apart from being a philosopher, teacher, author and international speaker, Dr Demartini is an absolute genius and he generously shares his inspirational insights.

On Thursday night, this self-made multi-millionaire will be doing a talk on how to build wealth (no matter the obstacles) and master your finances. For these two talks, you can book through Computicket or find out more on Dr Demartini’s event schedule.

Friday night sees him joining a Going4Gold event where he’ll be talking about activating vision, how to be the difference and live an inspired and amazing life.

Popularity: 7% [?]

Must-Have PR Book - A Perfect Press Release

Almost every PR person comes across this problem at some stage or another: their client wants every major national media to cover their little ribbon-cutting ceremony; or they insist on adding their own flowery adjectives and industry jargon to your neatly-crafted news releases. This book will help.

A Perfect Press Release... Or Not?A Perfect Press Release…Or Not? by Jennigay Coetzer is a highly practical book, which jumps straight into useful advice right from the first paragraph. Although it’s mostly a “how-to” type of guide, it also offers some strategic advice to senior PR practitioners. Importantly, it is written so that any CEO or business person can understand what a press release should be, what it should never be and why.

I highly recommend that PR consultants and agency owners give a copy of this book to each of their clients as part of some essential media training. It will go a long way to streamline the press release approval process and possibly prevent a lot of frustration (and no, I’m not being paid a cent for saying this).  :)

This book should also be prescribed reading for all PR interns and junior staff as a quick way to cover all the basics and best-practices, along with Encyclomedia’s free Media Pitching Tips Revealed email series.

Popularity: 11% [?]

Personal Public Relations Device (PPRD)

5Fm's DJ FreshDJ Fresh, of 5FM’s The Fresh Drive fame, has come up with a device which converts your public statement (written or verbal) into a clean, politically correct poetic verse. The device threatens to bring public relations to the people and take a large bite out of the PR market. The device was showcased on The Fresh Drive yesterday, June 11 ‘08.

Can’t hear the sound? Follow this link to listen to the new PPRD

Let us know your thoughts on this latest techno-gadget. Is it set to take the PR industry to new levels or will it bring our industry to its knees?!

Popularity: 100% [?]

Marketingweb’s Tips To Get Your Press Release Published

The editorial staff at Marketingweb receive over a thousand press releases each week. In order to make sure that your media release stands out, they’ve very kindly published their top nine guidelines on how to get your story published.

These simple guidelines and tips can be applied to any journalist you plan to contact, although certain journalists will have their own pitching tips and preferences regarding email attachments and follow-up calls. Nonetheless, it’s a very good summary of some of the best practices in pitching your PR stories.

Also have a look at Encyclomedia’s Media Pitching Tips Revealed series. It’s a free email series with tips and advice straight from South African journalists on what works best and what PR tactics to avoid.

Popularity: 8% [?]