The Ever-changing Landscape of Press Trips

It is crucial public relations professionals understand how to balance working with editors, bloggers and social media influencers in today’s digital world. News is abundant, and everyone is consumed with information overload so staying updated on current trends and who is controlling it is key.

Mixing Traditional and Modern Media
Hotels and resorts need money and resources and with the constant changes, public relations professionals need to ensure the resorts are getting their return on investment. It can’t be ambiguous. Unlike editors, freelancers and influencers don’t always have a confirmed assignment with a major publication, but there needs to be substantial information to properly vet clients.

“I can write something using your blurb, but to actually see with my own eyes and to use all of my senses to experience a place produces a quality piece full of descriptive language and palpable passion,” says Michelle Winner LuxeGetaways Lifestyle Editor and freelancer. “The result of a good press trip is exactly what writers are taught to do in their work: don’t tell me, show me. In the end the writer’s job is to compel the reader to visit, taste, see and do, too.”

You can learn more about press trips from Michelle Winner, Jill Robinson and Tamra Bolton at the PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference in New Orleans for their session, Press Trips: The Evolving Necessity.

It’s much easier to vet a New York Times travel editor versus a travel blogger. It’s easier for clients to understand the value of a national newspaper than a personal blog. However, these days people want to hear about other’s experiences because it’s raw and word-of-mouth is still one of the leading ways to create buzz.

We work with travel bloggers, but the vetting process is usually much more in depth than an editor with a confirmed assignment. We start by reviewing their work, checking statistics, social media presence, and if their niche audience works for the client. We need to have solid information to back up our recommendation. For example, a family focused travel blogger would be more appropriate than a fashion blogger at a family-friendly resort.

Newsrooms are Nearly Nonexistent
Newsrooms have cut budgets and many travel writers were the first to go. With the rise of social media, many influencers have been successful in their efforts while others abuse it. Many influencer requests show a loyal following, but lack of interest in a mutually beneficial relationship.

According to PR Moment, up-and-coming influencers think that numbers are what matters and not engaged audiences. Many requests, such as videographers who film models and night clubs requesting a complimentary stay at a five-star family-friendly luxury resort are, solely focused on themselves and not showcasing the destination and resort.

How are you adapting to this ever-changing landscape?

View More: Hammett is a PRSA member and the Public Relations Account Executive at MP&A Digital & Advertising in Virginia. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech. She’s also a member of the PRSA New Professionals and Travel and Tourism interest sections. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.






Book Review: Mastering Micromedia

I’ll admit – when I picked up Mastering the New Media Landscape, I was a little skeptical. I’m generally skeptical of any book or article that claims to help its readers master anything. We know that Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule isn’t exactly accurate, but can you really master a skill in 200 pages or less?

mastering-the-new-media-landscapeThe answer is almost unequivocally no, but with a caveat in this case. Mastering the New Media Landscape’s subtitle “Embrace the Micromedia Mindset” is a more accurate description than its actual title. Authors Barbara Cave Hendricks and Rusty Shelton outline the key principles, define the necessary terms (earned, rented and owned media, anyone?), and relate new media ideas to their traditional counterparts.

By setting the book up this way, Hendricks and Shelton give readers the tools needed to build an effective strategy for leveraging every bit of traditional and new media out there to communicate effectively with your audiences.

Mastering isn’t an end-all, be-all guide for mastering the tools at your disposal, but rather a guide to help you craft your own plan for understanding the opportunities available and conquering internet publishing, the heart of what “micromedia” really is.

The information presented is helpful for managing a corporate or organization’s brand or creating a personal brand, new pros or seasoned practitioners. Two of the best chapters – “Earned, Rented and Owned Media” and “Online Brand Audit” – gave the information and steps I found most useful.

After defining what earned, rented and owned media are, the authors explained something I had never thought of: it is most important for you to have information on media you own and for at least one piece of owned media to show up on the first page of search results. I had always thought that it was just most important for items like my LinkedIn profile, blogs I had authored and things like that to show up before any other less professional items, but that’s not entirely the case. Since those things tend to live either on a social media site (LinkedIn) or on someone else’s site (a blog post), I have no control over how they show up or even if they show up. Those pages could be taken down or edited at any point and there would be nothing I could do about it. If I didn’t keep copies or host my work on my own site that I controlled, it could all be lost forever with no warning.

“Online Brand Audit” piggybacked off of that theme and broke down where and what to look for when assessing and managing your brand. Doing a brand audit can seem daunting, just because of the sheer amount of sources and content you might have to sift through. Making sure that you’re properly represented online. Performing a personal brand audit is particularly important for new professionals while job searching. Employers rely on social media and online information just as much as resumes, portfolios and interviews when filling a position.

In addition to these two chapters, Hendricks and Shelton offer a lot of great information on how to make the most of all of the new media tools out there to use. There are plenty of tips and ideas for types of content, statistics on which users are on each of the social media networks and getting the most out of each network, strategy and piece of content. Most chapters also offer a “Stories from the Front” section in which the authors share an Q&A with a professional on the topic covered in the preceding chapter. All in all, this book won’t make you a master of media by the time you finish, but it is a worthwhile read for anyone looking for a guide to conquering today’s media landscape.

Robyn Rudish-Laning (1)Robyn Rudish-Laning is a member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter and is communications coordinator for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. Robyn is also a member of the New Professionals executive committee. She is a graduate of Duquesne University and is currently located in Columbia, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her blog here.

Tips for Mentoring a PR Newbie on the Art and Science of Media Relations

So you’ve been asked to train, mentor, or manage a PR newbie on all things media relations. Congrats! Now what? Media relations is an art and a science. Mastering the balance takes practice, and can be challenging to new PR pros starting out in the workplace as an intern or account coordinator. While some colleges teach media relations, many do not, and those that do often only skim the surface.

That being said, those starting out in the PR world could use media relations guidance – a task that often falls on more senior account coordinators, or account executives and account supervisors. Often the shift from new pro to “less new” pro, responsible for helping out the greenest team members, can be tricky. Here are some helpful hints that I’ve found to be helpful, both as I’ve been mentored and have mentored others.

1. Remember that patience is a virtue, and encourage questions.


Be patient with newbies – while you might be an ace at media relations, this is totally new to your mentee, and they will need some time to become an expert. Being patient with them will both encourage and motivate them, and create a more positive experience for both parties. As a manager or mentor, you are responsible for helping newbies build their skillset and confidence. As The Power Group’s account supervisor shared with me when I asked for her advice for this blog post,

Always have an open door policy for questions. If your new account team member is afraid to ask questions, chances are they’ll come up with their own answers, which can be risky and potentially damage your outreach campaign.”

2. Show and tell – employ a “face-to-face” edits model.

If you receive a less-than-stellar media list from a new pro, don’t be afraid to call him or her over to your desk and go through the list, talking through your thought process. It’s easy to hide not-so-nice feedback behind an email chain, but I’ve found that sharing insight into your own process can be really helpful for new pros. If you’re making a personal connection and talking through your own media relations lessons learned, even better. Don’t hesitate to talk through mistakes made by the intern or account coordinator. It can be tough to deliver that feedback, but it’s crucial for the mentee to hear in order to improve.

3. Give your mentees plenty of opportunities to watch and learn.

I learned so much from my first media relations manager simply by watching how she composed an email to a journalist, coordinated an editorial, or approached booking trade show press appointments. A great (and risk-free) way to learn is simply to soak up everything like a sponge. As a mentor, that means including your mentee in every media relations activity you possibly can. Sitting in on client interviews, tagging along to broadcast segments, and observing media training are all great learning opportunities. Leveraging industry publications and organizations, such as PRSA and Cision, is also a great way for mentees to learn. Mandatory webinars and lunch and learns are a great way for an intern or account coordinator to “familiarize faster,” according to my account supervisor Jordan Liberty.

What are some of the more helpful things your direct supervisors have done to guide you in your media relations learning? What are some tips that you would add to this list?


As digital account executive at The Power Group, Lauren creates custom digital strategies, crafts tailored social media content, and manages social media accounts on behalf of clients. She also leads Power’s inbound marketing efforts, and is certified by HubSpot Academy in Inbound Methodology. Lauren’s expertise is in B2B and technology. She started at Power in the fall of 2014 as an account executive, and manages select PR accounts. (Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter)

Five Costly Mistakes For New Pros to Avoid

5Have you ever wished that you’d done something differently? For most of us, there is at least one mistake we wish we hadn’t made. Hindsight is 20/20 and no matter how prepared you are for your career, mistakes will inevitably happen. To make your transition from student to new professional as smooth as possible, keep any eye out for these common (and potentially costly) mistakes.

Misspelling a Journalist’s Name.

When pitching, this is one of the easiest mistakes to make. While it’s not necessarily fatal – if the journalist is interested in the content, they may pick it up anyway – it’s certainly embarrassing and could devalue your credibility.

Being a new pro, you’ll always want to put your best foot forward and show that you bring professionalism and valuable skills to the team. Don’t jeopardize that by not taking 15 more seconds to double check someone’s name. While you’re at it, run spell check to make sure there aren’t any other errors that may have slipped under the radar.

Not Prioritizing Deadlines.

You may have days when you have your to-do list planned out, but another (more time sensitive) project pops up just as your day is getting started. These little projects are one thing I personally like about being a PR pro because each day truly is different, but having a dynamic schedule also presents risks.

Don’t let the small project become a huge project because you put it off for a week and it’s due tomorrow morning. It’s so easy to get caught up in the urgency of sporadic assignments, but you need to be disciplined in carving out time for larger, long-term projects.  If you find that you are struggling to keep up, communicate that to your supervisor or colleagues who can help.

Referencing the Wrong Media Outlet.

Just like misspelling a journalist’s name, this is an easy one to make when pitching. If you are working for an agency, you may talk to people from numerous media outlets each day. You’ll want to avoid telling the guy from The NonProfit Times that what you have to offer would be of interest to readers of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. As much as we love to be quick and responsive, it’s worth it to slow down a little for the sake of accuracy.

Not Keeping Your Supervisor Updated.

Keeping your supervisor and team members updated with how your projects are going is so invaluable. Teamwork makes the dream work, but not without clear communication. As mentioned previously, this comes in handy if you are struggling, but it’s also critical to establishing expectations. Allowing others to draw their own conclusions about when you will have a project finished will come back to haunt you more times than not.

Sending Out the Wrong Version.

Out of all these mistakes, this one may have the potential to be the most costly. Anyone who has internally edited content before it’s made public knows that the process can be long and tedious. A minor change may not seem significant, yet the change may have been in reference to financial or other information that needs to be completely accurate. Before you send something out, always check to be sure that you have the final version.

Being a new professional is about learning, but you’ll be one step ahead of the game when avoiding these little mishaps. Attention to detail is invaluable and it’s something that gets stronger over time. The more you practice, the more effective you’ll be at predicting potential mistakes and spotting them should they arise. In time, you’ll find a style that works for you. Keep calm, stay focused and enjoy your new career as a PR pro!

JeffJeff Adkins is a public relations associate for Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network in Detroit, Michigan. An active member of the Detroit chapter of PRSA, Jeff enjoys connecting with fellow PR pros and seeking out new professional experiences. He’s a 2014 Wayne State University alum, where he obtained a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and was a member of the university’s PRSSA chapter. In his free time, Jeff enjoys being active outdoors and volunteers as a public relations officer with Portal Paranormal Society. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter at @jeffadkins14 and LinkedIn.


Achieving PR Goals through Media Events

Achieving PR goals through media eventsAs PR professionals, we wear many different hats on a day-to-day basis: some days, we feel glued to our computers; others we are racking up mileage for various client requests around town. Sometimes we schmooze for eight hours a day, and some days we’re heads-down writing content that was due to the printer yesterday. PR work is varied but variety is the spice of life, am I right? However, one of the most sought-after aspects of the #prlife is a sparkling gem that we call a media event.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to call media events inspiring and invigorating, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I leave most events with a renewed sense of purpose and a head full of new, relevant story ideas. Often times, events can transcend the press releases, pitches and follow-up calls that comprise a large amount of our public relations duties. Events give the audience something tangible to see and feel, and emotionally connect them with a company or organization.

If you pay attention to the media/competitor landscape, you’ll notice that events always cluster around the same times of the year, usually before and during large cultural events (here in Miami, there’s a lot of activity surrounding Art Basel and Miami Swim Week). You can host as many media events as your client’s budget will cover and plan it impeccably, but your effort will be for naught if you do not cut through the clutter and leverage your assets in a strategic manner. You’ve been given an incredibly effective public relations tool… let’s learn how to use it!

Give the media something that is uniquely compelling.

If you’re like me, you struggle with finding a timely hook for your stories. I’ve heard “well, I can run this story any time. Why now?” more times than I would like to admit. This is something special and unique about media events – you have the freedom to blend something that might not be as “sexy” with something that is. With events, you are free to have subject matter experts, interactive components and a highly visual presentation. Not only does this make for a highly engaging and memorable experience, but makes the company compelling and at the top of the mind for relevant future stories.

Request interview questions ahead of time.

You should do this for two reasons: one, the act of formulating and communicating interview questions fosters a deeper commitment to the event and potential story. I have found that doing this great reduces the disparity between RSVPs and actual attendees. Secondly, knowing the questions beforehand helps you better prep your clients for interviews and helps you more effectively draft key messages and suggested responses.

When media isn’t your only audience, steward the situation.

Most times, your media events will be coupled with consumer events. Generally, I like to jump this hurdle by suggesting that the event be broken into two sessions: one for media and one for consumers. If your wish is granted, use this to your advantage by allowing media “exclusive access” before the event opens to the public.

If you are not able to get two different, targeted sessions/presentations, you should request for a quiet space to be reserved for media interviews. Doing so ensures that the journalists will not be interrupted or distracted by curious bystanders. You can add additional value by pre-selecting and preparing consumers for “man on the street” interviews. This way, you can easily and quickly provide the consumer testimonials that the journalists needs while respecting the consumer’s valid third-party opinion.

Be Flexible.

We recently held a client event with DJ Irie with an outdoor photo opportunity scheduled for the early afternoon. By midmorning, the sky was threatening to ruin our perfectly timed event with a rainstorm. After some one-on-one discussions with the media, we decided it would be best to switch the indoors and outdoors component so our guests could take as many photos as their hearts desired.

Flexibility is not limited to schedule, though – you need to be able to accommodate different requests and make the most of what you have.  Is the member of the media seeking more information on a topic that is not the focus of the event? As long as your spokesperson is media trained and prepared with some key messages, let them chat – monitor their conversation and d follow-up with the journalist. Does a television stations need to get in and out of the event in order to make it to some breaking news on the other side of town? Be understanding and accommodate their needs with an empty, quiet room in which they can record an interview. No need to stop the whole show to accommodate one request; just ensure that you are giving them what they need to best tell your story.

Post-event follow-up.

“Media relations” is a state of mind that you never completely slip out of, even after the event has concluded and the client has gone home. After the event is over, you’re in a special window of time where you can make an impact on the media as a respectable PR professional. In addition to an event recap, press release and event photos, you should also follow up with the individual journalists on social media. From there, be sure to stay in touch by liking and commenting on their posts. By promoting their articles and retweeting links to their stories, you can show that a professional relationship with you has even more benefits.  Creating this multi-dimensional relationship helps boost your credibility and will elicit respect from the journalism community.

There is a difference between merely staffing an event to fulfill your professional obligations and thriving as a PR expert in the situation, using every avenue available to you to go above and beyond the call of duty. Use media events and various face-to-face interactions as a chance to learn more about your media contacts as people who have likes, dislikes, goals and a social life. This strategy, more often than not, becomes second nature and you form a reflex for connecting people and uncovering opportunities. By doing so, you will slowly and surely build the respectable network that will make you highly valued as a PR/Media Relations professional.

Rachel is a graduate of Florida State University (Go ‘NHeadshotoles!) and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University. Currently residing in South Florida, Rachel is an Account Executive at the integrated communications firm Moore Communications Group.  Rachel is a talented writer, skilled in event planning and have provided valuable account support to national and local clients including Ford Motor Company. Connect with Rachel on Twitter or LinkedIn.