What a refreshing break from crime, traffic and weather WBTV’s new show will offer Charlotteans. Morning Break will bring more lifestyle-focused stories to the morning news line-up, with segments ranging from cooking to life hacks. The first show is set to air on Labor Day, and since we were curious to learn more, we caught up with WBTV’s News Director, Dennis Milligan.
How did your team decide to launch the new show?
An opportunity presented itself when we learned “Flip My Food with Chef Jeff” and “Fix It & Finish It,” which run from 9-10 a.m., were going away. We had a few choices. Find syndicated programming. Purchase paid programming. Or, come up with something local. We talked about doing more news, but we already have 55.5 hours of news per week on our station. I think that’s enough news. And, since Charlotte has a lot of news, we wanted to try something different. Local TV stations have to start coming up with local ideas for programming because we don’t know how the network affiliate relationship will change in the next 5-10 years. We decided to take a little more local control over our business and our ability to serve our viewers. The show is not a news show; it’s a lifestyle talk show.
Where did the name come from?
The idea is to encourage our viewers to take a break, and that’s why it’s part of our name. We want people to sit down with us at 9 a.m. and take a break from whatever is facing them that day.
What’s the set-up?
Kristen Miranda, Chris Larson and LaMonte Odums will host the show at a table on our main set. We want our viewers to feel like they’re sitting at a kitchen table having breakfast with their friends.
What will be on the show?
A sampling of our show includes:
- Try This, Chris! – Chris Larson will try different things around town, from dancing lessons to cooking to doing your job for the day.
- Let’s Get Digital – Trending stories, what’s big on social media, and what people are talking about
- In the Kitchen – Cooking segment with local chefs
- Home Cooks – People invite Kristen Miranda into their homes to cook one of their favorite recipes with them.
- Wellness Wednesday – Health, fitness and nutrition
- Life Hacks – Taking everyday tasks and making them easier
- Pinterest Project – Finding popular Pinterest pins and trying them ourselves
- Let’s Go Wild – Zoo-like animals from a variety of local attractions
- Talk of the Town – Good places to eat, new places in town and cool things to do
- Throwback Thursday – Sharing pieces of Charlotte’s history
What’s the best way for PR folks to pitch story ideas for Morning Break?
I encourage folks to email Molly Kelleher, executive producer of the Mornings and this show, or Crandall Sims, producer of Morning Break.
Do you ever get involved with the programming?
I attend our morning and afternoon editorial meetings, but the producers and executive producers handle the ebb and flow of the news throughout the day. For this show, I sit in on the rehearsals and weekly update meetings. By the nature of my job as a news director, I handle quite a few things that have nothing to do with daily news, such as research and personnel.
Anything else you would like people to know?
The more community-focused the story idea, the better. We want to show the viewer how to improve their life. Everyone is trying to sell a product or service, but on the receiving end, the good or service should make someone’s life better.
Thank you, Dennis, for sitting down with us and sharing more about Morning Break!
You’ve worked hours writing your corporate e-newsletter creating snappy blurbs to catch your audience’s attention. Once it hits your readers’ inboxes, you breathe a sigh of relief. As you wait to see who opens the newsletter, you may wonder if you’re truly connecting with your customers. While email marketing may be a piece of your strategy, there’s a better way to approach digital communications to foster a relationship between your organization and its stakeholders. It’s called brand journalism, and you’ve likely heard of it if you follow the latest trends. But it’s more than a trend, it’s a way to turn customers into loyalists.
In 2004, McDonald’s former chief marketing officer, Larry Light, shifted their corporate communications strategy to brand journalism, defining it as a way to chronicle “what happens to a brand in the world.” Light noted an important turning point in digital communications, moving away from putting the focus on the company’s products and accolades to placing the audience at the center—not just the company. In the “selfie” era, your audience might not care about your latest award or newest product; they desire captivating stories to satisfy their own interests.
So, how do you get started? Below I’ve outlined a few steps to utilize brand journalism in your corporate communications.
#1: Creep your peeps.
To create consumable content, you need to have a good understanding of who your “peeps” are and what they find interesting. What type of stories will your audience find compelling? What information are they seeking? You can explore your audience’s interests through surveys and focus groups to see what type of content attracts your readers. You might even create a buyer persona that compiles demographic information, attitudes and behaviors. And, if you don’t have a buyer persona, Pivot PR can certainly help you create one (insert shameless plug) to establish a foundation for your program.
#2: Summon your inner Walter Cronkite.
Once you know what type of content your audience appreciates, put yourself in the shoes of a journalist. Think of how renowned journalists, like Cronkite, told (or tell) gripping stories. Think through the riveting stories that might live behind your company’s walls. Research and report on human interest stories while avoiding content that puts the focus on the organization.
#3: Share. Share. Share.
Once you know your readers and a content plan, think through the channels you will use to reach your audience. Some organizations like Duke Energy and Coca-Cola maintain their own news websites that operate like a media outlet. If you don’t have the ability to create a news site, think through the different digital tools you currently use such as e-newsletters, blogs and social media. Take an integrated approach to sharing your stories through these outlets.
#4: Test and learn.
As you start to share these stories, be sure to measure how well they perform. The number of page views the story receives and the number of times it’s shared on social media will help you understand what’s performing the best and resonating with your readers. Engage with those who comment on your stories, and be sure to take note of the sentiment of the comments to help adjust your writing style or subject in the future.
We know that “PR” is still a bit confusing to most because we often get asked, “What exactly is PR?” So we thought, what better way to explain than to give you a real life example. June 3 marked National Donut Day and our client, Dunkin’ Donuts, tasked us with making a big splash in Charlotte to build positive brand awareness and generate restaurant foot traffic to the 50 (approx.) stores in the metro area. Challenge accepted! We developed an integrated public relations campaign comprised of these key components: partnerships, media relations, event marketing and social media.
To show our commitment to the Charlotte market and surprise and delight Charlotteans, we partnered with WFNZ to host a live radio remote at the WFNZ Coca-Cola Doghouse. As the radio DJs encouraged folks to swing by, Cuppy and Sprinkles greeted commuters while we surprised unexpected drivers with free donuts and coffee. Not only did we see happy faces galore from donut-eating commuters, but we also had tons of folks snapping pictures and we even snagged on-air TV coverage from a local station. The event also served as a great lever to make Dunkin’ stand out from other donut shops in print/online coverage.
Localize, localize. Sure – the donut deal appeals to everyone (who doesn’t love a free donut?) but we knew we had to make the news local to our market to gain earned media coverage. How? Local spokesperson and local event (see above). From there, we followed a traditional media relations approach and pitched in-studio interviews, landing a spot with WBTV. We also secured coverage through targeted pitching to outlets, including The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Five, Charlotte Agenda and Charlotte Restaurant Traffic. Our mascot Sprinkles even recounted the day in the Charlotte Five newsletter.
A sold-out Charlotte Knights Friday night game was the perfect way to connect Dunkin’s fun-loving brand with an audience of more than 10,000. The partnership kept Dunkin’ Donuts top of mind throughout the game starting with a pre-game interview and first pitch thrown out by a franchisee. With a huge inflatable coffee cup in the concourse and the mascots all over the stadium, attendees couldn’t escape the brand. After they experienced a game full of Dunkin’-themed activities, including a t-shirt toss, gift card giveaway and coupons (to drive them in store of course!), they received free coffee tumblers to keep them running on Dunkin’.
Tying it all together with social media, we leveraged Dunkin’s own channels, @DunkinNC and @DunkinSC Twitter, to share updates throughout the day and engage with donut day revelers. Local media outlets, including Creative Loafing, shared the local donut deal. And, our friend and Charlotte Knights announcer, Mike Pacheco shared a selfie with Cuppy and Sprinkles during the Game.
So, what were the results? Targeted, quality earned media placements. Positive brand awareness. Foot traffic in stores. A social media reach of more than 96,000 users. Check, check and check!
*Since sharing this case study with our Charlotte network, we’ve received the following feedback:
“Fun newsletter! June 3 was actually my birthday, and I experienced all of your PR campaign for Dunkin Donuts. I passed the Dog House on the way into work (though I was taking a left from Mint onto Morehead so wasn’t in the right direction to get my sweets); I read about the promotion in the Charlotte Agenda; and I received a tumbler when walking out of the Knights game. Great work! I hope your client is happy.”
“I witnessed the awesome PR behind this. Great job!”
“What a great and fun campaign. Nice work!”
Before great content management systems like WordPress and intuitive search engines like Google, you needed an “SEO guy” who could manipulate website code, meta tag, and keyword spam in the hope that your website could be found on a high Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Back then it was very expensive and quite technical, not to mention a bit unethical. Luckily that’s not the case anymore.
Now, if you’re looking for quality organic search results, you can take a page from the PR playbook. Why? Because PR professionals specialize in three of the most important things you need for SEO: quality content that helps earn a digital footprint that ultimately results in online credibility. Below is an explanation of each.
Quality content: PR professionals are inherently great writers who produce quality website and social media copy, press releases, blogs, case studies, white papers, etc. These are all tools to help organizations be found and shared online. Without the right content, it’s pretty hard to communicate, right? It’s fundamental.
Digital footprint: It’s more important now than ever for PR professionals to develop relationship, but not with just traditional media outlets like your local newspaper, but also social media influencers, bloggers and editors with online new sites. Leveraging those relationships will result in online coverage helping you create a digital footprint well beyond just your website and company social channels.
Online credibility: If you do the above, your SEO will increase because very complex and ever-changing search engine algorithms are now smart enough to recognize who’s “legit.”
You see, that’s the beauty of PR. You don’t have to pay exorbitant amounts of money on organic SEO or even advertising. And, everyone including Google gives you credit for it!
Looking to learn more about SEO? Check out Google’s SEO starter guide here for more on the technical side. Looking to learn more about how you can leverage PR for SEO purposes? We’d love the opportunity to speak with you about it.
For the past seven years, Mandy has focused her professional career on strategic public relations and communications. Mandy serves as Account Director at Pivot PR, where she assists in the development and implementation of strategic public relations plans.
Prior to joining Pivot PR, she led the communications and marketing efforts for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation. Mandy also worked for the University of Cincinnati Foundation, employing communication strategies for the $1 billion Proudly Cincinnati fundraising campaign. Her expertise is in media relations, strategic social media, content creation, and web and social analytics.
Mandy has also served as an adjunct instructor for the University of Cincinnati and University of Oregon, teaching an array of public relations courses. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Master of Arts in Communication and Public Relations Certificate from the University of Cincinnati.
Mandy is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Charlotte chapter where she was named New Professional of the Year in 2014. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on her Bearcats, practicing yoga, traveling and cooking.
How did you end up in Charlotte?
Charlotte has always been on my short list for places to live and work, so when I saw a business reporting opportunity here, I had to check it out. Prior to this, I covered retail and real estate for two McClatchy-owned daily newspapers, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Tell us more about your new role with CBJ.
I liked working for dailies, but I also enjoy working for a weekly. I’m very concentrated in real estate coverage at CBJ. At a small daily, you can be pulled in to cover anything and, as I learned, I am not a crime reporter. Everyone at CBJ has different reporting backgrounds and areas of concentration. I’ve enjoyed the collaborative environment. I also like working in uptown, where I can walk to a lot of interviews and meetings.
What’s your advice for public relations professionals working with you on a story?
Open communication and trust are really important in these relationships. It seems a day doesn’t go by when I’m not working with or receiving pitches from PR professionals. I appreciate when people in PR communicate clearly and transparently. Press releases can be helpful in letting us know what’s happening in Charlotte, as long as it’s newsworthy is newsworthy for our market and audience.
Has a communications professional ever pitched to you on social media?
I mainly receive pitches via email. I haven’t had a phone call pitch in a while. It doesn’t seem like too many people send pitches through Twitter, but since I receive so many email pitches, it would stand out — at least until everyone started doing that. I sometimes use social media for story ideas. I follow developers, real estate brokerage firms and a few Charlotte public relations professionals on Twitter.
Is real estate a subject that has more breaking news?
Charlotte is a very competitive and active market. We have a lot of media outlets covering real estate and development, especially now. Accuracy and breaking news are obviously very important. CBJ is a weekly print paper, but we break news daily online through our website, morning and afternoon emails, blogs, and on social media. We are technically a weekly, but it’s really only in terms of the print edition. Many people are going online to get their news. While we have a popular weekly paper, we are a daily online news outlet, and we want to be first and accurate in reporting business-related news.
What interests you about commercial and residential real estate?
I like to look at the bigger picture and think about the trends driving Charlotte development. I love to talk about office space, but residential real estate is also fascinating. I think it’s interesting how millennials and empty-nesters seem to be driving the trends in real estate right now. Millennials don’t necessarily have the funds for a down payment on a house, while empty-nesters are looking to downsize. It’s a good trend to keep an eye on, especially as millennials start aging. It will be interesting to see what happens in 5 to 10 years from now.
A huge thank you to Ashley for speaking with us! If you’d like to pitch to her, she can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @CBJFahey.
Q: Hi Michele! Tell us about Charlotte Parent.
A: Charlotte Parent magazine is made for parents who are local, engaged and involved. We’re a free and local publication and our monthly magazine, website, newsletters and social media networks are created to help make life easier for parents navigating life in the Queen City. We are a one-stop parenting resource, with a daily calendar of events, locally generated blogs, directories and so much more
Q: What does the staff look like?
A: We are small but mighty! We have a calendar editor, seven bloggers, an art director, digital media director, three salespeople and our publisher.
Q: How long have you been here? What did your journey look like?
A: I’ve been here for six years in January. I started when my oldest son was an infant, serendipitous that, as he’s grown, I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned as a parent along the way. I started as an associate editor, moved to web editor and am now the editor. When thinking about editorial content, I always make sure to stop and think about what I want to know as a parent.
Q: There are a lot of different types of parents and kids. How do you reach them all?
A: Our biggest demographic is toddlers to age 10. Of course we don’t exclude tweens and teens and we love babies too! We actually have special issues focused on them.
Q: What kind of information do you like to provide?
A: We have a Growing Up column, health and development content, event listings, best bets and how-to tips. We also keep in mind that many of our readers aren’t from here and they need a resource to get to know our city. We serve the greater Charlotte area, not just the city. Regardless of parenting style, we’re going to help provide as much useful information as we can.
Q: Do you get a lot of opinions/engagement from parents?
A: It really depends on the topic. It’s interesting to see what triggers a conversation, which usually happens on our social media channels. A recent example was regarding a “silent lunch,” meaning children don’t talk during lunch when music is playing. The thought behind it is, when they’re conversing they’re not eating! That received a number of comments.
Q: Tell us about your interaction with people pitching you.
A: We get product pitches all the time and, since we don’t have a new product section, I need to find a larger story within which the product may fit. We wouldn’t typically profile a business, but if you can tie your product or service to something the parenting community is going to care about — perhaps through tips or a how-to — there maybe be an opportunity there for quotes or perhaps a listing. An example of that is a recent article we did highlighting eight family-friendly restaurants in Charlotte
You can reach Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org and subscribe to Charlotte Parent’s free newsletter here.
Hannah Chronis, managing editor of Carolina Weekly Newspapers, was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss her South Charlotte newspapers; how she earned the top editorial spot; and her thoughts on the industry in general.
Q: Hi Hannah! Tell us a little about Carolina Weekly Newspaper.
A: Our goal is to serve our readers by providing thorough and effective coverage of hyper-local community and civic news. So at our three weekly publications — South Charlotte Weekly, Union County Weekly and Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly — and our monthly publication Pineville Pilot, we’re getting back to the basics.
Q: How did you get the gig?
A: I actually started as the sports reporter here. Mind you, I didn’t have a ton of experience in sports, but if you’re passionate about newspapers, community journalism and you’re a good writer you can figure it out. I might have had some help from my husband to make sure my sports lingo and analogies were on par. I did that for 1.5 years and then we had a change in management, which led to a change in our organizational structure. They chose me for the managing editor position.
Q: That is awesome! And you’re managing ALL four publications? That seems like a lot.
A: Yes; it’s a lot of work but it’s necessary. Given the nature of the business, and with our audience in mind, we have to be hyper-local to make sure that the news is as relevant as possible. It wouldn’t work doing just one South Charlotte paper. We have been talking about possibly tweaking our territories a bit though.
Q: Tell us about your digital strategy.
A: Daily newspapers are struggling, but weekly community publications are still going strong. People still like to pick it up and cut out pictures of their kids and post them to the refrigerator. We understand we need to expand our digital presence because everyone consumes their news differently. It’s a challenge for a small staff like ours, but we’re heading in the right direction. We just unveiled a new website this month that we think will help tremendously. You’ll find things there that you won’t in print. We’d love to hire a full-time person to focus on all things digital and do more with our social channels and potentially start an email newsletter.
Q: Do you work with quite a few PR folks?
A: You’d be shocked how often I get pitched news that isn’t relevant to our readers. There are a handful of folks that cold call and follow up a bit too aggressively as well. I get 30-40 emails a day that aren’t relevant.
With that being said, I really value the way you and I have been able to work together. The great thing about the way you run your business is, if I reach out to you you’ll be sure to get back to me quickly with what I need, and you have a good feel for what we’re looking for. What you do is so important to us. We wouldn’t be able to put out a quality paper if it wasn’t for PR agencies. I love getting press releases with all the information needed to write a quality business brief with a photo. That makes my job easier.
A huge thank you to Hannah for speaking with me! If you’d like to contact her she can be reached at email@example.com, and be sure to mention her Pivot PR Q&A.
For those of you who subscribe to Charlotte Agenda, you know the staff does a series called “Cribs” where they go to local businesses and explore their work space. In addition to some good information about the companies they also include interesting photos that showcase what’s in the refrigerator and any unusual people or things in the office. We liked the idea so much that we decided to check out Charlotte Agenda “Cribs” style. Take that, Ted!
About Charlotte Agenda:
- Why they exist:
Charlotte Agenda exists to make Charlotte the smartest, most human city in the world.
- What they are:
User’s guide to Charlotte.
- What they do:
They publish 5-10 stories a day on a website and send a handcrafted newsletter early each morning around 7 a.m. (sign up). They also do original reporting straight to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. How large are we as of 4/6/2016?
- Monthly Unique Visitors: 250,000+
- Monthly Pageviews: 1,000,000+
- Daily Newsletter Subscribers: 13,500+ (55%+ open rate)
- Instagram Following: 40,000+
- Organic Facebook Reach: 600,000+
Pivot PR Observations:
They are located off of Cedar Street just behind Panthers Stadium. –discrete except for their portable drinking hole outside the front door.
The first thing you see when you walk into the office is a nice lounge area where team meetings, chats with guests and in-house events are held.
The plan is to display this sign proudly on the wall, but right now it makes for a heck of a coaster.
Apparently they had a polaroid camera in the office and visitors got their picture taken. We at Pivot PR were not as fortunate as these folks. Our recommendation is to bring it back!
Pivot PR VP Trish McGuire grilling Editor-in-Chief Andrew Dunn. You see, PR and media folks can get along.
We visited late afternoon. Must be nice to work at Charlotte Agenda because 3 out of 5 were out (maybe they knew we were coming.)
Apparently they recently had a party which depleted their stock in beer. Not too bad if you ask me!
I recently sat down with editor-in-chief Scott Jensen to learn more about his media company, Charlotte Stories.
Q: Hi Scott! Tell us a little about Charlotte Stories.
A: We’re a daily newsletter that focuses on local news. We’ve got 13,000 email subscribers, several social media outlets specific to Charlotte areas (Charlotte, Lake
Norman, Concord, Rock Hill, Huntersville and Gastonia) and we average nearly 25,000 views on our website a day. Our audience is comprised primarily of late 20s and 30s business professionals in Charlotte, but we’re expanding that. We want to be more diverse and reach other groups such as the refugee, music and African-American communities.
Q: Interesting. How did you get into the business?
A: It all started years ago when I was building Facebook pages that were branded for different cities. I had 60+ at one point, then I started Global Flare, similar to BuzzFeed but for local news. It was a lot to juggle and realized I really should start focusing on Charlotte. I started looking at domain names and found Charlotte Stories and I knew that was the perfect name.
Q: What makes Charlotte Stories different from its competitors?
A: There is a lot, but generally speaking some of the others do more features and we cover more hard news. We’re also more inclusive to several types of news, and surrounding areas, where competitors feel more narrower and blog-ish. We also put more of an emphasis on video, and I’d like to do more events.
We really take into account what people want and what is trending. We make a conscious effort to understand our audience and bring them interesting and different news they wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Q: What was the biggest story you broke?
A: Do you remember the post Super Bowl interview with Cam Newton and how a Bronco player was whispering in his ear behind the curtain? That was us — 3.3 million views in under two days! I knew there was a story behind that story and that Charlotte needed to hear it, so I started doing some research online and found a video of what another Panthers player had posted via Twitter.
Q: Do you work with many PR folks on the “earned” side? What about advertising?
A: We love to work with PR folks and encourage them to pitch us fun and different types of stories. We’ve got a handful of advertisers now but we’re looking to add the right partners. Everyone has their own unique needs and, if interested, I’d encourage them to reach out to me directly.
Q: Tell our readers something interesting about yourself.
A: I’m a licensed real estate agent and I earned my undergraduate degree in pastoral ministries.
Q: Where do you see Charlotte Stories in three years?
A: I’d like to take over news in Charlotte! I want to rebrand our city and help it find its identity.
You can contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. Introduce yourself and tell him Drew at Pivot PR sent you!
Editor of Business North Carolina, David Mildenberg, was kind enough to sit down with Trisha and me to discuss the Charlotte-based magazine, the journalist-marketer relationship and how he sees the news industry evolving. Since you’re in Charlotte and may have some interest in landing your organization in Business North Carolina, we thought you’d be interested in our Q&A below…
Q: Hey David! Tell us about Business North Carolina.
A: Nobody else does what we do. Our job is to explore what’s happening in our state, focusing on people and companies from small towns to big cities. That sets us apart from the magazines that cover business from a national or international perspective. And it separates us from local newspapers and business journals. Our job is to produce quality, in-depth journalism; dig into stories behind the news; then deliver what we uncover in a manner that, though at times may be provocative, is always fair, accurate and thorough. Unlike some business magazines, we do not speak for any special-interest group or espouse a specific viewpoint. Our job is to reflect reality and, in doing so, entertain and enlighten our readers. On the business side, we are owned by a holding company based in Southern Pines that operates The Pilot newspaper there and monthly magazines in Greensboro, Wilmington and Southern Pines.
Q: Exactly. I certainly think you do a great job in going deeper and giving your readers the whole story.
A: That’s certainly our model. We try to go deeper than everyone else. We also think it’s very important to put context around and understand the history of something to truly make it interesting. There are a lot of folks who care about, and are passionate about North Carolina.
Q: Your readers primarily consume your stories via print, correct? Talk to us about your print/online strategy.
A: It’s true; thankfully, many do read print still. Some even prefer it over squinting at a phone or screen. Of course you can find our stories on our website and we just started DevelopCLT.com, a weekly newsletter about the Charlotte area’s commercial real estate industry. We want to write blogs and stories that provide a broader view of issues and the people active in CRE. That industry is really misunderstood. It’s such a large and important part of what’s going on in our state. I hope your readers will sign up for the free newsletter.
Q: How do you keep your finger on the pulse of so much news happening in the state?
A: We read as much as possible, but we also travel quite a bit meeting with interesting folks all around the state. The issues in Raleigh and Greenville, where individuals may be more interested in politics and have ties to Virginia, are so much different than what’s going on in cities like Greensboro and Charlotte.
Q: What does your staff look like?
A: We really have an amazing editorial team. We’ve got two great editors in Allison Williams and Cathy Martin and a veteran art and production director, Moira Johnson, who has been part of BNC for many years. We also rely on freelancers around the state, mostly notably Ed Martin, an award-winning journalist who has focused on the issues of our state for years.
Q: Tell us about your interaction with marketing and PR folks.
A: I sure have had a lot in my past! We’re really looking for great ideas. It’s important to understand the mission of our publication and present great hooks. I don’t believe in the antagonistic attitude where some editors won’t even take calls. There’s a place for both of us, and, there are fewer journalists these days which is all the more reason to work with communication folks.
A huge thank you to David for speaking with us! You can find Business North Carolina’s media kit here and you’re welcome to pitch him at email@example.com.
I recently had a chance to sit down with co-host Corey Inscoe of The Good News Is, a weekly podcast with a similar mission to CharlotteFive (C5) where Corey is an editor. C5’s mission is to get you Charlotte-smart with fast, fun, interesting and useful news about the city.
Q: Corey! Thank you for sitting down with me. We’ve been working with you at C5 for awhile now, but tell me more about The Good News Is and how it complements the newsletter.
A: Absolutely. The Good News Is podcast is powered by OrthoCarolina and is technically an Observer product – not just a product of C5 – but it does live on our website and have a similar mission to C5.
Each week, Sarah and I hope listeners come away from the 20-30 minute podcast feeling like they know more about Charlotte than before they listened. It’s a mix of news, upcoming events, food & drink, trends, etc. And we bring in a guest each week to dive deep on one subject. So far our guests have talked about everything from breweries and development to the Panthers and a group of guys who survived a rock fall.
Q: That sounds really cool. There’s nothing quite like it in Charlotte, right? How do you differentiate yourself? What other topics are you covering? Who is your audience?
A: More Charlotte podcasts have started popping up recently but the vast majority focus on a very specific topic: dating, beer, sports, etc. We take a more general approach talking about anything and everything going on in the city, from the Panthers to all of the apartments being built. And we want to be timely. We want to talk about what’s happening in Charlotte that week, whether it’s something like the City Council’s LGBT ordinance vote or the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. We want to talk about things that matter to Charlotte.
Our audience is anyone who lives in or around Charlotte and cares about the area. We want to offer a little something for everyone.
Q: Tell me more about your co-host and the type of interviews you do.
A: Sarah Crosland is amazing. She’s the executive editor of the Observer’s magazine division, but she’s also an expert on Charlotte, especially its dining and food & drink scene. She is so well connected in Charlotte, which helps us land great guests, and she has a deep knowledge of the city. She’s also just really smart, funny, interesting and fun to talk to. Same goes for our producer, Richard Brooke, who has done a great job shaping the podcast and helping us get some amazing guests. We have a great team. Recording the podcast is definitely one of the most fun things I do all week.
As for the interviews, we just want to talk to interesting people. CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams (a great get by Richard) was one of my favorite guests because (1) she’s an impressive woman in a male-dominated field and (2) I learned so much about the conference, the tournament and their connection with the city. We usually try to get a timely guest – like Rich and Bennett the week before the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl – but really we just want interesting people who can teach us something about the city.
Q: How can Charlotteans get involved? Are you open to pitch ideas? We’re sharing your answers with Charlotte marketing and communication professionals so I want to make sure they know how to engage.
A: Absolutely. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @TheGoodNewsCLT. You can reach us at any of those places if you have ideas for show topics or guests. We’re always looking for new ideas. I’m also on Twitter @CoreyInscoe if you want to reach out to me specifically.
Q: Staying true to C5 form, here’s my fifth and final question. What else would you like us to know about C5 and The Good News?
A: Since we’ve mostly been talking about the podcast, I’ll start with that. I’d love for people to give the podcast a listen and if they like it, share it with a friend. And give us feedback. We have a lot of fun doing it and we’d love to know what you think.
As for C5, same thing; if you like it, share it with a friend. Our goal at C5 is to make you Charlotte-smart: more knowledgeable about the city and people in it. And we want to have fun. We’re always looking for new and interesting stories. Charlotte has so much to offer — it’s growing, it’s being shaped by passionate, smart people, and there’s no shortage of things to do and discover every single day. I truly feel lucky to be in a position to write and talk about the city right now.
You can listen to The Good News Is on SoundCloud or subscribe to it on iTunes orStitcher. You can follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram (@TheGoodNewsCLT) or on Facebook. You may reach them via email at email@example.com
Someone in your company pops up and says you need to host a press conference this year. Now what? Don’t fret; I’ve outlined below the essentials of a successful press conference. I beg of you to ask yourself one question before even starting. Is the news worthy of a press conference? Is what you’re announcing really an announcement? And will you be offering something that the media can only get at that time (e.g., an important speaker or visual)? If the answer is “yes,” then you’re ready to start planning. If not, perhaps consider strategic media pitching of the news instead.
PREPARATION IS KEY
- The Invite: You need a brief, engaging piece (a media advisory) that states: what, who, when, where and why. Be sure you just tease the information and leave the reporter wanting more. Giving away too much information will of course eliminate the need for the journalist to leave their office!
- More “Meat” to the Story: Do you need to create a full press kit or will a press release suffice? You’ll at least want to draft a press release that contains the pertinent details; provide this (and any photos) to journalists after the press conference has concluded.
- The Visual Story: Be sure you have backdrops, signage and props that tell “the story” without any words or captions necessary. Remember: a press conference is an event and an event is visual. Giant scissors for a ribbon cutting? Branded hardhats for a ground-breaking? Check and check.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
- Day of the Week: On Mondays, journalists are busy catching up on the weekend’s top news stories (and maybe they aren’t in the office on Sunday for a reminder from you). On Friday afternoons, they’re usually wrapping up for the week and planning weekend stories.
- Tick Tock: Consider deadlines for morning, midday and evening news. If you hold a press conference at 4 p.m., journalists are going to be really pressed given their deadlines for the 5 or 5:30 p.m. news. A morning or midday press conference will give journalists time to write/package the story that day, getting you MORE coverage.
- Location, Location, Location: Your location should serve as a visual extension of your announcement. Does your location link to/represent your announcement? Make sure there’s good lighting and ample space for both speakers and media personnel plus their equipment.
REIGN IN THE RAMBLERS
- Keep it Short. A journalist’s time is valuable. They want to get the story and get out. A mere 2-3 minutes per speaker is ideal.
- Narrow it Down. It’s not necessary to have the entire C-suite speak on one topic (although they may want to). Instead, stick to 1-2 executives who represent the organization well and (if possible) one dignitary or community leader.
- Talking Points. Be sure your speakers aren’t only equipped with their speeches during the press conference, but also prepared to answer questions from the media afterwards.
It may not always be possible to control every detail of a press conference, but it’s important to control the elements you can to make up for the uncertainties. Still feeling overwhelmed? Not a problem. You’ve got experts right at your fingertips. Pivot PR is here to make your next press conference a success.
As we enter the holiday season, I thought now would be a great time to address “corporate” giving. Many organizations have the best intentions to support their community, but not always sure how to make the biggest impact. I’m providing three tips that your business may consider when choosing a charity to make the process as easy as shopping for your family and friends.
1. Give to Those Who Matter to You
You wouldn’t normally give a gift to someone across town that you don’t know, right? Take into consideration what you and your employees care about and if the organization’s mission aligns well with your business. You’ll feel better about it and be more engaged with what you’re doing.
2. It’s Not How Much You Spend
Like me, I’m sure when you’re shopping you take actual cost into consideration, but what’s more important is making sure it’s something they value. By donating things like your time, expertise, connections and passion you may be able to make a bigger contribution than you think. It’s not always about a large financial contribution or sponsorship from you alone.
3. Tell the Rest of the Family
When I give mom that bracelet she always wanted I make sure my dad and brother know about it! Many businesses do not like to highlight their community relation efforts for fear of bragging. Nonsense! By showing that your organization is a good community steward, and getting others involved, you are also bringing awareness to the charity, which will only encourage others to give; win-win!
BONUS: Here is an opportunity for you and your executives to put these tips to good use. I will be participating in the Queen City Corporate Challenge, and if this is a good opportunity for you company, I would be honored if you joined me. Please let me know if you’re interested.
Hospitality House of Charlotte is a unique organization that provides the comforts of home for families of seriously ill loved ones by offering affordable accommodations in the heart of Charlotte’s medical community. Learn more about the Queen City Corporate Challenge here: http://www.firstgiving.com/29382/2016-queen-city-corporate-challenge.
I recently had a chance to sit down with my long-time friend and former colleague Katie McKiever, who is now the Social Media Manager at WBTV (the local CBS affiliate). We all think about anchors and reporters at news stations but do you also consider those behind the scenes as well? What about the marketing and communication staff? I wanted to take a peek behind the curtain to see how Katie and her colleagues help WBTV be “on your side.” Spoiler alert: she offers some great pitching tips too (so be sure to make it to the end).
Q: Katie! It’s been years since we last sat in a newsroom together as Business Wire employees. Your role here is much different from what it was back then; tell me about it.
A: I love this job! As the social media manager I’m a part of the digital department, but I support three distinct areas–marketing, digital and TV.
Q: I think our readers understand TV and digital, but explain how you support marketing.
A: We ourselves are a brand. Of course our viewers are looking for the news that we cover, but we’ve got to make sure to do a good job of bringing awareness to WBTV too — whether that’s promoting one of our shows or anchors. It’s an interesting side to the job that most don’t necessarily think of.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from other Charlotte TV stations from a social perspective?
A: Of course they’re doing social too, but what I think sets us apart is our voice. There may be similarities in the channels we use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest) but it’s how we speak to and resonate with our audience.
Q: Are you in charge of all employee channels or just the WBTV News and @KatieMcKiever?
A: Our anchors, reporters and everyone else handle their own social accounts, but I’m here for guidance, coaching, providing updated information on how to use things like Twitter Polls, the appropriate timing to post, etc. I help them to be more strategic.
Q: Can people pitch you directly or does it have to go through others in the newsroom first?
A: Yes. Definitely pitch me! Sometimes I get information that I know won’t be a good fit for TV, but I know it will be well received from our social media followers and website audience. I get pitched all the time and I can send it to the right producers that might end up running with it on TV. Just depends on the news. Sometimes it’s right for social, sometimes our website and sometimes TV. I’ve developed a good feel for where things should be placed.
Q: Tell me the value of digital and how it has grown.
A: We can include so much more content on our website and social channels than we ever could on TV. Because we’re a TV station first, our digital platforms are sometimes considered secondary, but we have a large digital audience that continues to grow. The great thing about digital is that a lot of it is trackable. We have hard numbers and analytics behind every platform. It’s nice how our website and social channels feed off of each other; a good chunk of our website traffic comes from our social media.
Q: I see you recently created a hashtag #WBTVandME. Tell me more about it.
A: We created #WBTVandME as a way to connect with the community. People can use that hashtag when they’re out and about, especially at events, when they want to share something visual with us. Not only does it serve as a platform for us to share, but people can use it to pitch us as well! We may pick it up on our website or in a newscast too. It’s a great way for people to connect with us and vice versa.
Q: Do you ever do just social posts or does it have to tie to a digital story?
A: Sometimes we’ll post things just on social, but for the most part we’ll lead them back to a digital story.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the average PR, marketing or small business owner in Charlotte?
A: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ask people for pictures. Please send at least one picture with your pitch especially if it’s a pitch to a digital/social reporter. Even if it’s just a logo or an event flier, I’ll take it. The more pictures the merrier! We do not like to post stories on our social media channels or our website without a photo and/or video. So send me as much as possible. Don’t forget to include your social handles on things like news releases. Get creative with your subject lines. Use a compelling quote! Grab my attention and make me want more. There’s a fine line between teasing a reporter and getting their attention or just being silly.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?
A: I love all the Charlotte-centric information and how much everyone here loves Charlotte and this community. Sometimes I think the media gets a bad reputation, but I think WBTV does a great job of knowing when to draw the line and when not to get too flashy or sensationalize things. There’s a magic to television that’s still really fun. I catch myself watching in awe all the time.
A big thanks to Katie for talking with me. We encourage you to connect with her and WBTV on the following social channels:
WBTV Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wbtvnews3
WBTV Twitter: @WBTV_News
WBTV Instagram: @WVTV_News
To many, media relations is as perplexing as complex algorithms. Some are so skeptical, they view practitioners as snake oil salespeople. To demystify the practice, let’s walk through some common misperceptions. To first ground us, let’s start with a definition. Per Wikipedia, “Media relations involves working with media for the purpose of informing the public of an organization’s mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner.” Now on to what media relations does not equal …
Media Relations ≠Public Relations
The Public Relations Society of America describes public relations as “… a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Public relations is comprised of several areas, such as the following: community relations, employee relations, event promotion, investor relations and public affairs. Content creation, sponsorships and speaking engagements can also fall in the realm of public relations. The bottom line: public relations is not just media relations. It’s much more.
Media Relations ≠ Advertising
By pitching a story idea to the media, practitioners are able to secure earned media. The earned media could be a print or online article, TV or radio interview/segment or a blog post. This earned media is not an advertisement. An advertisement is paid for by the company or brand and guaranteed. The beauty of media relations is the third party credibility conveyed to your company. Ask yourself: do you put more stock in flashy advertisements or an article you read from a credible news source? However, coverage secured via media relations is not guaranteed as it is at the discretion of the reporter and/or editor regarding if, when and how the news is covered.
Media Relations ≠Free
This is where folks get confused. Per my section above, earned media isn’t paid media. In fact, don’t ever offer journalists money. But, the myriad tactics required to secure earned media aren’t free. Sound media relations requires strategic thinking, creative ideas, outreach and follow-up – all of this takes time. Lots of time. And time in media relations is how practitioners earn a living. Also, there are many tactics such as media tours, mailings, spokesperson out-of-pocket costs, media events, etc. that may be costly. In short, you don’t pay for the placement itself but the work that goes into securing the placement. With the exorbitant cost of advertising, you almost always come out ahead with media relations (and the credibility factor is honestly priceless).
Media Relations ≠ Press Release
A press release is one vehicle to inform the media of company news (e.g., a new product, an event, an opening, etc.). However, a well-crafted media relations strategy should include a pitch angle to accompany the press release that gives the journalist you are pitching context and/or the “so what” to the news and/or information that places your company’s news within a larger story. Some of my best media placements have been secured without a press release at all, but rather a crafty [email] pitch letter. Side note: Creating a press release when there isn’t news or simply posting a press release on a wire site (unless you’re just doing it for web reasons) will not earn your company quality news placements.
Now that you understand the “equation” of media relations (media relations = awareness and credibility for your brand or company), I hope you reach out to the team here at Pivot PR when you need some strategic media relations support!
A recent survey by the Consumer Executive Board (CEB) of 1,900 corporate decision makers found that buyers are, at a minimum, 57 percent of the way through the buying process before they contact a potential supplier. Some respondents reported being as much as 70 percent complete with the decision-making process before reaching out to a vendor. What does this mean for you? If your company is one that continues to solely pump out case studies and product literature, you’re missing your opportunity to actually influence and/or connect with your buyer. Yes – we live in a culture of “selfie” photos and can even subconsciously become focused on ourselves, our products and our business. To survive, you must be buyer-centric versus company-centric. (To really make my point, let me ask you this — do you unfollow the person that exclusively posts selfies?)
There are multiple guides, books and webinars out there that detail how to map the buyer journey and then align content and communications channels with that journey. There isn’t enough room in this blog to detail the full process. But, I hope this post can serve as a catalyst for you to explore your content strategy. Here’s your gut check. I’ve included below a couple of examples of the type of content that would be appropriate for each phase of the buyer journey. Keep in mind that the vehicles can cross over between phases; this is just a loose guide. Do you have any content listed in the awareness and consideration phases below? If your answer is “no” or “sort of,” please take action ASAP. If you’re already well on your way but are struggling with content ideas, check out Buzzsumo to see what content is trending for a topic or domain.
- White paper
- Editorial article
- Email newsletter
- White paper (solution comparison)
- Vendor/product comparison
- Case study
- Trial/software download
- Product literature
It’s okay to have some “selfies”; just be sure to insert some group, community or lifestyle photos too. The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to guide you through this process. And, even better news, your friends at Pivot PR do somersaults of excitement over this entire process – from buyer persona creation and buyer journey mapping all the way down to creating the content. Always feel free to reach out for our help.
Based on our experiences in the corporate world, we’ve found that the fire drills and hustle and bustle that keep you crazed during the year tend to slow down in the summer. After you take a vacation or two, be sure to use the time to clean house and get things in order so that you’re ready to go full force again in the fall.
1. Message Strategy: If someone asked you for your elevator pitch in an actual elevator, would you have the perfect 15-second answer? Would your co-worker have the same response? What about your website copy, marketing collateral or sales presentations? Are those pieces littered with industry jargon? Can you explain why you are really different or do you sound just like all of your competitors? One of the first things we do with our clients is to conduct deep-dive interactive sessions to develop buyer personas and the corresponding message strategy. This exercise forces an organization to rethink its positioning, key messages, supporting points and the right answers for those tough questions.
2. Editorial & Content Calendars: Have you pulled the latest editorial calendars of your most targeted media outlets? Whether it’s a long-lead trade or consumer publication, be sure to plan ahead or you’ll miss out! Also, don’t forget about that list of awards you’ve been meaning to expand (or the award to which you’ve been wanting to apply). Once completed with this work, create your annual content calendar to align with your media opportunities.
3. Media List Refresh: Is your media list all-inclusive and up-to-date? Doubt it. If you aren’t subscribing to a media database, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and take the time to research online and/or pick up the phone and cross-check your contacts. Keep in mind: news rooms have a revolving door. If you updated a list a month ago even, it’s probably already outdated.
4. Monitoring: We at Pivot recommend regularly monitoring industry news so you can stay up-to-date on topics that matter the most. You can use Muck Rack to see previous articles written by journalists for free.
5. Crisis Planning: Although some organizations are more susceptible to crisis than others, every business has the potential for a crisis situation. Be sure to think through the most common scenarios and plan your communications thoroughly both internally and externally. Crisis communications is absolutely the last place you want to wing.
Of course you know you should be doing all of the above, but the question is are you really going to? If you need experts who can take all of this work off of your hands, Pivot PR is here to help!
As most of you have probably noticed, we at Pivot PR have turned the tables on journalists and interviewed several highly influential media figures in Charlotte over the past year. We’ve spoken to folks in television, print, radio and online (including bloggers). Heck, we even interviewed the mayor! Why? Because relationships matter. And, the media landscape is changing so quickly, media list services like Cision can’t stay up-to-date.
So my question to you is, do you have a media list? Meaning, even if you crafted the perfect press release or pitch letter, or had an amazing story to tell, would you know who to send it to? It’s more difficult than one would think. Quick, who’s the leading beat reporter for your industry at The Charlotte Observer? Do you know the producer for WBTV’s 6 a.m. weekday show? How about the editor-in-chief for the hottest daily newsletter or blog in town?
If you’re not sure, don’t fret. We can help you target the right people to gain positive media coverage, ultimately driving awareness and new customers to your business. Keep in mind: creating media materials that don’t get coverage is a waste of your time, and bombarding the wrong journalists with your news will just get you blacklisted.
ShopTalk is The Charlotte Observer’s weekly small business section designed to educate and connect the Charlotte community. The print version is published every Wednesday, and in conjunction with its blog, can be found online here. To learn more here’s a Q&A we did with reporter Jonathan McFadden…
Thanks for meeting with us, Jonathan! Tell us more about your role with The Obsever, specfically ShopTalk. I am the reporter, I do a lot of writing, video and help to maintain the blog. I also help out by contributing to daily business stories. I’ve been at The Charlotte Observer for eight months now and I’m really enjoying it.
To you, what’s the main purpose of ShopTalk? I would say the purpose is to provide tools, give advice, and show what others are doing – either to replicate or to avoid.
I noticed you do conferences and after hours events. Can you elaborate? Yes. We’re responsible for all the planning of those, which keep us busy. We’re in charge of finding the venue, conducting rehearsals, moderating, and interviewing panelists beforehand to provide takeaways to attendees.
What should folks keep in mind while pitching you? I get a crazy amount of pitches a day. It’s hard to give specific criteria to use because I usually find something good in each pitch. Definitely make sure each pitch is personable and compelling. We get a ton of stuff outside of Charlotte, which we don’t want, so it doesn’t hurt to put Charlotte in the subject line. Also, don’t get frustrated if we don’t run with your story right away. You could very well be on my radar and we might do something down the line when it makes more sense or I could tie it to a bigger story.
What kind of stories to you personally enjoy doing? I love the rags to riches or struggle stories — ones that are born out of frustration are particularly interesting to me.
Define small business. SBA says 500 employees or less, but sometimes we make exceptions. Be ready to disclose revenue and, yes, we usually share that information because it’s relevant. It’s an indicator of your success and provides a metric to our readers.
What about the ShopTalk Blog? It’s great because print is once a week, so a daily blog allows us to cover many more stories than we could otherwise.
What issues would you like to write more about? I’m Interested in getting more into public policy issues for small business. There’s a lot happening in the state house regarding taxes. Hopefully we can tap into that a bit more in the future. The state of entrepreneurship is also of interest to me as there are behind the scenes things to consider. For example, getting capital is difficult here. I know people are working to change that.
Is there collaboration between ShopTalk and business beat reporters? I have a meeting every Monday morning with my editor, but everyone has their own sub-beats under the “business” umbrella. All-in-all there is a lot of communication with each other and we help each other out. It could be as simple as passing something along you know is appropriate for your colleague. With a really big story, there are times where everybody pitches in and helps out with it.
How do you conduct your research? My main sources are trade association reports, industry experts and online research; we also have a researcher on staff. Sometimes I use social media and the Better Business Bureau is helpful. I cast a wide net. It’s important to substantiate legitimacy of our sources.
What else should our readers know or do? Tell your story. I’ll get it out of you, but it’s helpful that when you know you’ve got something compelling, tell it! Don’t bury it. I understand there can be things you don’t want out there, a tragedy or something horrible that has happened to you, but others can learn from it! I want the story behind the story. If you’re working with a public relations agency, make sure they drive it home too. Don’t use industry jargon. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! @JmcfaddenObsBiz
A special thanks to Ted Williams for this article in Charlotte Agenda….
As a digital media guy, I was invited to a special “media event” before the Ritz opened the Punch Room Room (outstanding spot, by the way). I looked around the room on the 18th floor and noticed a bunch of people that didn’t look like traditional media people. I was the nerdiest one there (I constantly tuck in my shirt and wear a Brooks Brothers non-iron).
I thought Heidi (amazing lady that runs the Ritz’s Sales and Marketing team) made a mistake along with her PR agency by not inviting media folks.
Then it hit me. How does the Ritz Punch Room audience consume media? In nerd talk, what media influences this target audience’s discretionary spending? It’s Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. I’m not cool enough to snapchat, but I cyber stalked many of the attendees on Instagram. Sure enough, they had large, engaged followings.
Communications is getting it’s face ripped off. The change is intense. The opportunity is intense.
This doesn’t mean that traditional media awareness and coverage is ineffective. You’ll rarely find a person who believes more in the power of print or long form video than I. But, it does mean that communications will become a priority for senior management teams.
In my opinion, Charlotte PR firms are pivoting and will continue to pivot. Don’t be fooled, this is a huge market because business owners, GMs and marketing directors need partners to help them navigate the new media world and find their authentic voice (sounds like cheesy marketing speak, but it’s true).
Leader: Drew Porcello, President/CEO
Key Clients: Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, AvidXchange, Le Meridien
Stats: <10 employees | LinkedIn | Site
Special thanks to Abby Miressi, who wrote a great piece on Pivot PR found here.
Thanks for meeting with us, Rick! So you’ve been with Charlotte magazine since 1995. Tell us about your journey to publisher. At that point we were more or less a new magazine. We had just purchased the name Charlotte magazine and that was pretty much it – we started over from scratch. Essentially, I was the guy that did the stuff that needed to be done. I went from editorial assistant to assistant editor to associate editor all before first issue. I was on the editorial side for 18 years—15 as editor—before moving to publisher in January 2013.
Do you like editorial or publishing better? They are very different and I enjoy them both. It’s pretty rare to go into the business side with that much experience in editorial. The role is usually filled from the sales side. When the opportunity was presented to me, I asked a colleague at another city magazine (who had gone from editor to publisher) and he said, “It’s all one hat. Just think about the long term vision of the magazine.”
What is your long term vision for the magazine? We will continue to find ways to grow and connect with our audience, and continue to do what we do, but do it even better. It’s important for us to have a direct relationship with our audience and cultivate it through storytelling. From an advertising perspective, we’re selling exclusive access to our audience, and it’s exciting because some of those opportunities don’t even exist yet. Just think about what we’re doing now that didn’t even exist five years ago. The important thing for us to always keep in mind is why we’re doing it in the first place.
How have things changed given the technology and social media aspect of publishing? We’re doing a whole lot more, and we’re doing it faster. Even three years ago all you could really do was buy an ad. Now you can sponsor an event, sponsor our newsletter, advertise on our website, create a social campaign, etc. There are a lot of different ways to connect with people. All are content-based but each has to be rooted in connecting with our audience so we ensure we’re serving the reader.
We were an early adopter of Twitter. Events have become popular. Our Best of the Best (BOB Awards) event has grown by 100 people each year over the past several years – 750 came last year. The Charlottean of the Year Award (which debuted in December 2014) came out of editorial. We did it because we saw a need to recognize the people that are making our city better, and we thought the city magazine should be the one to do it. We solicited nominations from the community and from community leaders then our editorial board made the final decision.
Tell us a little more about earned media opportunities available? I’ll be honest, when I was editor, a PR person said to me once, “You’re the hardest publication in the state to get into.” I took that as compliment. We work so hard to service our readers. We’re a monthly so there’s not a lot of space, and it’s not all that often a press release finds its way in our magazine. However, for example, if we’re doing a story on hamburgers and we receive a press release about a new restaurant specializing in burgers, it makes us aware and that restaurant may get included.
Securing placement in our magazine really takes an understanding of what we’re trying to do, who we’re trying to reach and the exact type of story we’re looking for. It’s helpful if someone external provides a different angle to an existing trend we’re covering. That’s because we really try to do stories that nobody else is doing and we don’t typically cover something that’s already been covered.
Understanding you’re a long lead magazine, how far out are you planning? Our April issue is going to print now and it was fully assigned 3-4 weeks ago. A lot of our features and longer pieces are over four months out. Our covers, at least the concepts, have been decided over a year in advance.
What about your blogs? Is there an opportunity to cover things you wouldn’t in print? Do they provide an opportunity to cover stories faster? Yes; our blogs are becoming more of the place where we can get out in front of things and be the first with news. Our bloggers get direct pitches. They are looking for content more often, but we make sure they’re quality. We try to take the time to interview folks and come up with interesting and unique angles. Those blog posts are the ones that get the most traffic.
Do you feel like you have competition? That depends on if you ask account reps or editorial staff! When you think about it, we’re really just competing for people’s time. We do things that no one else is doing, or in a very different manner, so we’re not worried as much about what our competition might do. We just do what we do.
Your mantra is connecting with readers so if you had one thing to tell them what would it be? We’re trying to create a great magazine experience. You will find things in our pages you won’t find anywhere else – online, social and print. Our stories are as good as or better than anything you’ll read in the country. That’s why they get picked up and shared nationally through publications like the New York Times and BuzzFeed.
We recently had a chance to sit down with Kevin Pitts, publisher of the Charlotte Business Journal. The focus was to get a better understanding of their awards programs: Advanced Manufacturing, 40 Under 40, Women in Business, Business Person of the Year, CIO of the Year, CFO of the Year and Healthiest Employer of the Year.
Thank you for meeting with us, Kevin. What is the CBJ’s goal when doing awards?
We want to be the provider of the most credible recognition. We want business people to think, “Of all the awards I qualify for in Charlotte, this is the one I want!” We also want to paint a picture of what success looks like, and share best practices.
I noticed that different programs require different selection processes. Tell us the reasoning for that.
You’re correct. All have different models. For example, 40 Under 40 and Women In Business are nomination driven. We crowd source nominations, then our newsroom will pull together all of that information and research, boil down and select the winners.
We do partner with a third party research company for programs like Best Places to Work. They develop a workplace engagement survey each year that measures employment engagement, then it goes through a modeling process, gives a score and ranks and indexes versus the best-of-best throughout the country. It’s not just local- that way we know where we compare on a national level.
The Advanced Manufacturing Awards are handled by an industry-specific judging panel in the area, who really focus on what the nominees have done to advance manufacturing in our region.
Lastly, we may partner with industry associations to help us make our selections for programs like CIO and CFO of The Year.
Tell us what’s most important when nominating someone. Also, what about the number of nominations a person receives?
It really comes down to the quality of the nomination. The thing we look at first and foremost is business accomplishments and contributions they’ve made to the business community. That’s it — that’s king — the main focus of all programs. It’s not a matter of how long the nomination is, how many nominations or how influential the nominator is. Your nomination should explain very clearly which business accomplishments are germane to the particular awards program. Don’t get me wrong, multiple nominations are fine, but make sure it adds context and a different perspective. If each brings something different to the table, then that’s great.
Can you give us some Do’s and Don’ts?
Skip the fluff! Any accomplishments that can be quantified, such as sales and growth, really strengthen the individual’s case. Also, you’ll typically need to be in Charlotte for a reasonable period of time- at least 2-3 years. Remember, business accomplishments are what this truly boils down to. The community involvement piece is important, but don’t forget about industry associations, and how the nominee works to advance their industry. There’s a lot of wonderful people out there but, it’s not a popularity contest.
Does Size of the organization matter?
Irrelevant. If you look at our class each year you’ll see a good mix. I love to see nominations from entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Any final thoughts?
I like a good party! Every company has a personality. When it comes to marketing, I’ll over simplify it by saying print is about reputation management, digital is transactional and events are about who you are and engaging with others. These types of events and recognitions humanize companies and their people.
As you know, Mayor Daniel (Dan) Clodfelter was appointed Mayor of Charlotte back in April. Since he has had some time to settle into his role, we thought it’d be a great time to pick his brain a little and learn more about him. Here’s what Mayor Clodfelter had to say…
What are the key areas you’re concentrating on to better Charlotte? How did you choose them?
At present, I’m interested in three broad themes. One focuses on how we can continue to diversify our local economy and build a strong infrastructure to support entrepreneurial enterprises in our City, especially for businesses that emphasize innovative products and services. A second theme centers on strengthening regional partnerships with surrounding cities and counties, with a view toward developing ways to address challenges on a regional basis even when the State government is unable to do so on a statewide basis. A third area involves my longstanding interest in building and supporting strong neighborhoods that are resistant to social and physical decay and that can serve as the focal points for delivery of city services and programs. I believe all three of these are critical for Charlotte to be and to remain a resilient and adaptable City in the decades ahead of us.
What is one thing you want Charlotteans to know about you?
I think I became a “Charlottean” many years ago as a student at Davidson College and long before I finally settled here. I love the sense of pride that people have for this city and how they back it up with an incredible willingness to roll up their sleeves and go to work whenever there is a challenge or an opportunity confronting the community.
How do you balance your role as an attorney with that of the mayor?
Balancing my law practice with the role of mayor has its challenging moments, but I’ve found a system that works well. Certain days are blocked off entirely for the city, and other days I devote entirely to the law practice. I continue to believe there is value in having people serve in elected office who also maintain a work life that is not dependent on political involvement. I find that combination helps me keep a more balanced perspective on “things political.”
You’re coming up on six months as Charlotte mayor. What have you learned about working with the local media?
There are many more influencers on media and reporting than when I served on city council in the 1990s. Deadlines are tighter, the 24 hour news cycle never stops, and social media plays a major role now in shaping stories and news reports. I encourage reporters to grab me when I am out and about at different events, or if I’m already scheduled to attend some occasion or speak to some group. That may be the easiest way to catch me. Of course, they can always contact my office to request an interview, and I will do my best to make myself available to them.
If marketing/communications professionals would like you to attend their event, what do they need to do?
Please make initial contact with Peggy Huffman (firstname.lastname@example.org), who handles scheduling for the Mayor’s office. When sending an email, I recommend attaching background or a press kit on your company/organization so that I can fully understand your mission, goals, etc. While I wish I could participate in all of your events, unfortunately my schedule won’t always allow it. It’s best to submit your event request with as much advance notice as possible to increase the likelihood of my being able to participate. Mondays and Tuesdays are typically the best days for my schedule. If I’m unable to attend, we may have the opportunity to send someone else to represent the Mayor’s office.
We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t ask. Do you intend on running in 2015?
At this time I haven’t made a definite decision as to whether or not I will run for election in 2015. I’m mainly focused on doing the job at hand, working with the City Council to articulate its collective vision for the City, and the community’s vision for itself. I’m trying to keep a sense of how the Council and community feel about the work I’m doing, and I’ll settle on a decision at a time a little closer to the filing period.
We would like to give a special thanks to Ashley Simmons, the press secretary for the office of the mayor, for facilitating our Q&A with Mayor Clodfelter.
Join us as we kick off TWO new things in Charlotte. #1: a brand new special interest group – CAMAComm and #2: a unique all-in-one trio in South End. Enjoy some craft beer and tasty bar bites while getting to know other communication professionals, share best practices (and war stories), and just have fun!
Why? Because it’s new. You’re a trend setter. You want to be “in the know.”
November 12, 2014
Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop
What is CAMAComm?
Presented by Pivot PR, CAMAComm is American Marketing Association’s newest small group series targeting marketers in the communications field who specialize in marketing communications, communications and/or public relations. We’re the ones that create and execute a strategy utilizing written and verbal communications for a brand or company (or at an agency). We serve as the “voice,” ensuring all communications — from websites and social media to collateral and media materials — align with overall brand/company strategy. If this sounds like you, please join us.
On our agency’s one year anniversary, I’m very proud to introduce you to our next brainchild, Charlotte Media Exchange (CMX). Powered by Pivot PR, CMX is a communications platform designed for marketing professionals, subject matter experts and media to connect on hyperlocal stories in Charlotte.
You are interested in getting your company more media exposure, right? Well, here’s your chance! If you’d like to position yourself or your colleagues as experts available for interview, or receive inquiries from the local media, sign up below. It’s free!
If you’re a Pivot PR client you’ll find yourself already listed and we’ll be monitoring for you. CMX is yet another perk of working with us. But, for those of you who are not clients be sure to set, “My Alerts” so you’ll receive all appropriate media opportunities via email, based on your preferences.
There is nothing else like this in Charlotte. With your help I believe CMX has the potential to change how media relations is done in this town. Enjoy. And, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in making CMX even better!