NEWS HOOKS #LLAP: Leonard Nimoy, Kanye West and Jihadi John

February 27, 2015

Spock rock paper scissorsIf you’re using a computer today, chances are you were like me and played rock, paper, scissors and watched Star Trek in your childhood. My father and brother watched it almost daily. I was there watching with them. It certainly was a Sunday television sport, right next to Shirley Temple and The Three Stooges. If you watched that TV series as well, you were surely fond of the character “Spock.” Well, today, I’m sad to say Leonard Nimoy passed of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Whether you’re a doctor or a techie who’s a Trekkie (uh, or do I mean Trekker), today media will be seeking you. Probably all weekend, we’ll all be celebrating Nimoy’s life and remembering how his great career and artistic contribution affected our lives, especially his famous catchprase, “Live long and prosper,” which by the way Nimoy honored this phrase by ending his Tweets with LLAP. Read about it in the Washington Post.

William Shatner, who is famous for his character Captain Kirk on Star Trek, liked to play pranks on Leonard Nimoy for which I’m sure he had to apologize as friends often do. If you’re an expert on forgiveness, friendships or human behavior, today the media may want to hear from you. Asking for forgiveness for puzzling human behavior is in the news again. Kanye West is asking for forgiveness from Beck and Mars on Twitter reports CNN. When public conversations surround celebrity behavior, the media seeks industry experts, doctors, psychologists, communication experts and people with first-hand experience to make sense of it all.

As children many of us we were told this rhyme often, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” Debatable. In today’s cyber-bullying world, that children’s rhyme takes on a whole new meaning. The instant-access news cycle makes sharing upsetting stories about children being bullied national in seconds. If you’re expert in bullying, in all its forms, it’s unfortunately in the news again with a juvenile facing charges this week for a child being beaten in a cafeteria last week.

From pop culture experts to everyday educators, the media reports the news with sources who help us shape the stories to which we pay attention. For example, in global news today, community leaders are trying to make sense of how Jihadi John came to be: How a child reared in the UK could grow into a terrorist. Sources in security services, spiritual development and societal influences can assist the media in helping everyone understand how deep down, every child; every human needs to feel they belong. Here’s how you belong. Your voice, your expertise and your experience matter. We are all trying to make logical sense of our human experience. Speak up. The media is listening. Be heard and … live long and prosper. We will #LLAP, Nimoy. We will.

Great Spock Quote


NEWS HOOKS That’s insane or is it? American Sniper Trial; Human Rights; Media Favs-Babes & Dogs

February 25, 2015

shutterstock_138867431 People say it all the time with little thought to what they’re actually saying, “That’s insane.” Is it actually insane? Today, the media is asking that question and they need experts who can help the public discussion about what constitutes sane or insane behavior as they process the guilty verdict in the American Sniper trial.

Words. We use them in trials. We use them to ask other people to trust us. Dog and baby food companies use words to entice us to care for the pets and babies we love. In today’s news, media friends are looking for sources who know about toxic dog food and how babies form allergies. LA Weekly is still reporting on how feeding babies peanut products may thwart peanut allergies. What? Haven’t ‘words’ taught us that the opposite is true? Many families have pets and some of these treat their pets like their babies. Surely a public debate on this will continue so families who have been affected by this and health experts who know about the ins and out of this will be sought by media. Fox8 in Cleveland reports on the lawsuit in which a dog food brand ‘words’ (and actions) affect the health of thousands of dogs.

Here’s a PR tip: media LOVE babies and dogs. Why? Because we love babies and dogs.

My husband loves to say to me when I’m stuck articulating something, “Baby, use your words.” He is saying it in a coy and loving way, but here’s the reality. We use our words to create our world. Words = world.

That’s why people are up in arms about the comments Giuliana Rancic made about dreadlocks. Huffington Post reports the whole “is it racist or not” story today.

Words affect the world – the whole world as well. I mean, globally. In college, I was awarded a community honor for my work with Amnesty International. Voice of America reports this organization is releasing its 2014 report stating the world response to violence is ‘shameful.’ As a former Chicago and Louisville chapter leader of Amnesty International, I can tell you that words make a life and death difference. If you’re an author, nonprofit leader or person with knowledge of human rights and the work of Amnesty International, the media will be seeking you to comment on this study.

Finally, today’s shocking words come from an unlikely source. Mother Teresa is in the middle of a controversy sparking global conversation according to the International Business Times. My first job out of college was doing PR for a theater troupe with Call To Action, a group calling for peace within the Catholic church. Religious conversation is a tricky one for the media and if you have the gift of (secular) gab on how to make sense of religious controversy, trust me, the media seeks your voice.

Here’s what I know is really insane. For your voice to not be heard. Speak up. The world is listening.


NEWS HOOKS As the smoke clears: Alaska Legalizes Weed, Boko Haram, American Sniper

February 24, 2015

shutterstock_62404903 Before today’s news goes up in smoke, take note of a few things.

Like all stories, there is a beginning, middle and end. News is just a summary of compelling stories for the day. They’re being written newly each day and by offering yourself as a source to media contacts, you can help shape and form public stories of interest.

Shoot, just now on the TV I saw a “Whitney Houston fan” used as a source to discuss the reasons why her daughter may or may not be in a coma. I found that interesting. I mean, using a fan as a source on coma commentary. Hmmm. See, in the past 25 years I’ve done PR, only experts have really been used as sources. By experts, I mean doctors, authors, industry leaders and people with first-hand experience, say a personal friend of the celebrity or someone who’s experienced what we’re discussing in the news: storms, legislative changes and so forth. In today’s Twitter fueled world, “sources” come in all forms.

To be part of the public conversation a particular news venue is shaping, the first step is to be a fan. Join your favorite media on social media to really stay in touch with the stories they’re shaping. Before the smoke clears and your opportunity to be a source passes you up, take note. If you’re offering yourself as a source, today, you might want to tie in your expertise to these items trending in the news. For example, Alaska becomes the 3rd state to legalize marijuana. Perhaps you live in Alaska or even better, maybe you’re a doctor who can discuss the pros and cons of smoking weed. These are the types of sources media today will be seeking. People who have authored books on the history of drugs or addictions can also use this news to forward a public conversation to which they’re committed.

Patricia Arquette is still in the news today about seeking equal pay at the Academy Awards. But this time, the smoke surrounding her isn’t her politics, but instead how she missed the opportunity to include all minorities. So, if you have a masters degree in social work, local and national media would love to hear the truth about how minorities are under-served and how this Hollywood tie-in fits into news in their backyard.

Dating back to the Trojan war, disguise has always been a large story to tell. Today militants aligned to the Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram have been captured attempting to escape the northeastern town of Baga disguised as women, according to reports like this one from Newsweek. It’s a current-day war story that’s sure to be retold in the future and media friends will be seeking experts who can discuss war, Boko Haram, Nigeria and the use of women as a distraction. This topic is also a war reality that was featured front and center in the currently-in-trial Chris Kyle story, also now a popular movie on PTSD, American Sniper, winning a best-sound Oscar at Academy Award this past Sunday. Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, clutched dog tags at the awards ceremony. For weeks to come, experts on war strategy, PTSD/mental illness and how war affects women is sure to continue to blow as the smoke tries to clear.

What’s smoking in your sphere of influence? Connect with media contacts influencing you. They just might want to hear from you; at least until the smoke of today’s news clears.


Gender Wars Score USA Today

August 29, 2014

Susan B Anthony

We just scored USA Today by playing the gender game. See the article here. When I was a child I remember a playground gender game incident. Just for time reference, Jimmy Carter was up for election. The boy in my class – I don’t even remember his name, maybe Timothy – said girls couldn’t do the same as him and he didn’t care what Jimmy Carter said. Obviously, with a statement like that, his parents might have been arguing about Carter the night before. I think we were in 3rd grade and it was the day after a national debate among presidential candidates. At the time, I didn’t really know who Jimmy Carter was but at recess I was going to give that boy a piece of my mind. I could do the same as boys. In fact, to prove I was as strong as Timothy, I would show him with the cartwheel I had been practicing… or the kickball home run I could score… or … well that was really all we did at recess: gymnastics (because Berandine Clark was so good at that) and kickball (because Dennis Miller was so good at that).Well, my cartwheel flopped and my kickball kick missed. **Shutup Timothy!** But the burn inside me that I could do anything a man could do carried on well through my college and career days. Truth be told, I think that burn still exists today. I say that because I’m currently working on my Spartan Trifecta (extreme obstacle races & mud runs) to prove it. In fact, I just completed the Virginia Spartan Super last weekend. It’s touted as one of the most brutal races ever by the Navy Seal next to me at the shower area after the race. I’m not the only woman who burns with the gender wars flame in her heart. Many men and women have lots of opinions about what men need and women should do. So, why not use this type of emotional burn for your media angle when you’re pitching contacts to score editorial earned mentions about you, your expertise, your book, organization or services? My business partner, Drew Gerber and I discussed with The Women’s Financial Alliance founders Sandy Franks and Pamela Yellen how genders view money, retirement and investments differently. Shockingly, many money experts told them there ‘should’ be no difference, but alas (feeling my gender war burn) there is and that is a key indication of a good pitch for media discussion. Listen to what burns. Media contacts are constantly searching for public conversations that spark an interest. Especially in today’s digital world, it’s important to pick topics that cause debate, stir emotion and yes, have 3rd grade girls try to impress little boys at recess. Wasabi Publicity did just that and scored USA Today not once, but twice. That article syndicated to other venues, like CNBC. So, what topic can you choose today that will put a burn in people’s heart and move them to action? Try it out at a cocktail party and if it incites lively conversation, pitch it on Monday to your favorite top-tier media!


Hunting for PR.. and Houses!

October 15, 2013

House Hunters International

Media relations is a lot like looking for a house. Ask my business partner, Drew Gerber who will be featured on the very popular TV show House Hunters International tonight. He’s been abroad the past year and has purchased homes in Budapest and Serbia. Think about it. When you look for a house, you research the geographic region where potential property is located. You answer questions like: City? Country? Urban? Rural? In media relations, it’s smart to research the demographic reach of the media venue and answer targets like: Young adults? Baby boomers? Business professionals? Working moms? When you start to look for property, you want assistance from a real estate expert to avoid any pitfalls. In tonight’s show, Robert Weiner assists Drew. As you begin to embark on your PR Pitching, you’ll also want media and publicity experts to keep you from committing fatal media pitching flaws. Speaking of flaws and needing experts (notice the segue — hint, hint, nudge, nudge), did you catch my last webinar with Entrepreneur’s Mikal Belicove? If not, get caught up here and join us for the next round of media pitching flaws this Thursday at 3:30 pm eastern. It’s free so sign up here and let media experts guide you throw the hustle and bustle of strategy … PR strategy that is. If you’re looking to hunt a house, better call Robert Weiner! See him in action tonight. Whatever you do … media relations or purchasing a home abroad, don’t do it alone. You’ll need help researching your strategy and the specifics of what you’re out to accomplish. You wouldn’t just buy a house on a whim, so never pitch on a whim. Have a strategy in place and you’ll find yourself mentioned in media. Then you can really frame that clip … in your home sweet home. Like I did. With my mention in More Magazine. It hangs in my kitchen. You can see Drew and me with our loving significant others at Drew’s home in Saluda NC below. It was the “set” of House Hunters that day. (Maybe I made the editing cut — check it out and see the episode tonight.) Happy pitching to you today! Write to us and let us know what you’re hunting: PR, houses or ?  House Hunters International Set


Do You Bully Media Contacts?

June 10, 2013

Image

E-Bullying is in the news and it made me think. Do you bully media friends? How do I know e-bullying is a hot news topic? We got the topic and our client (an adult bullying expert) in USA Today last Friday. Read the article. So do you? I’m sure you’ll say, “I never bully my media friends?!?!” Well, let’s take a look and see. We’ve been doing media relations for more than two decades. I still get clients who say, “Find out from that reporter when that story is going to run. Geez, we’ve only sent them tons of pitches and angles. Why the heck aren’t they writing about me? I’m so tired of waiting.” What’s wrong with that, you ask? After all, they have been waiting. Well, let’s look at another common stance business people take with the media. “This is the most important piece of information ever. You (media people) are stupid if you don’t cover this with your viewers, readers and listeners.” And my favorite through the years, “I have no competition. That’s why that TV host would want to have me on her show. There’s no one like me. Tell her that when you pitch me as an expert source.”

What’s the common thread? I’m sure many of you are reading this, thinking, well, that’s all true for me. Is it? See, the media is not in business to talk about you. I know, I know. It’s the hard truth and you may not want to hear that. I mean, after all your book was published just six months ago — that’s still news, right? Wrong. To think their job is to cover you, your news and if you think you have no competition, then you might be a media bully. I say this because if you begin your media relations with your communications being “all about you” you’re actually “powering on” the media. Work with the media – not like you’re entitled to be covered. That’s just dominating the media relationship. Like a bully “powers on” his or her victims online or in person, the same dynamic can exist with media friends. They already have assignments from their bosses. Their readers, viewers and listeners impact what they write, broadcast and talk about. Not you. Not your news. Not your book — whenever it was, is or will be published.

Now, you might be lucky enough to reach them at the perfect time they’re seeking an expert on a topic they’re currently researching. This is the only reason to do media relations — so when they are seeking an expert in your industry, they think of you first! That’s what happened when I pitched Carol-Anne Steringa, adult bully expert, to this columnist. That’s why she was mentioned in the column. It’s all about timing and service. The columnist was already writing about work-place issues and thought, yes, I could use Carol-Anne’s insights on bullying; I was already thinking of doing that topic. We didn’t “bully” Andrea Kay into covering Carol-
Anne because of her expertise, tips, special reports and new website. We were polite in our emails and through the process, Andrea had many questions and requests for in-depth explanations. We were always happy to serve, be friendly and give her more no matter what. At no time did we ever get rude or expect her to cover or not cover our agenda. The relationship was mutually beneficial and a “win-win.” Never a power-on or dominating — making the other person wrong. In my 20+ years of doing PR, I’ve seen so many experts and sources get mad or angry with a media person for what or what they don’t do. Or, what they ask or don’t ask. Remember, with media it’s all about THEM not all about YOU. So, ask yourself. Did you lose your last earned editorial mention because you “powered-on” your media friend? If you’ve ever emailed something like, “Why didn’t you quote me this way or that?” Or, “Hey, why didn’t you get back to me — it’s been over three weeks.” Or, “I already answered that before, why are you asking me that again?” That’s being a bit of a media bully.

So, relax. The media doesn’t work for you. You serve them. Bullying won’t get you anywhere. So, have fun with your media friends and you might just be surprised you’re mentioned at all. Good luck. Good relations!

PS: One last thought: If you simply want to control your message, go purchase advertising. Don’t do earned media relations. Bullies can control their messages in advertising; never with editorial coverage. But you’re not a bully, now are you?


Stay Positive

January 7, 2013

Believe There is Good In the World“Stay positive.” It’s about as cliché as it gets, right? Well, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Truth is, in my experience people gravitate toward the positive and that’s not only true for media contacts I know, but also any successful business leader, athlete or community leader I’ve met. Think about your own life. How often do you say, “no” throughout your life? I bet it’s directly related to the level of success you have (or don’t have). One of my favorite movies is, “The Yes Man.” In it, the character attends a motivational seminar and takes on saying yes to all opportunities that comes his way in the future. It’s quite funny. Take a look, if you’ve not already seen it. Speaking of motivational speakers, I’m thrilled that Wasabi Publicity client and prosperity motivational speaker & author, Randy Gage is featured in this Investors Business Daily article I placed for him. Investors Business DailyGage often speaks about the power of staying positive and teaches that steering clear of negative naysayers can increase your health, wealth and knowledge. All you pro-positive people reading this are saying, “Yes, that’s true, Michelle!” Alternatively, skeptics will be thinking, “Hmmm, but you know, the media and most people I know love a good drama. People victimize themselves and that’s opportunity, too.” I can see your point, skeptics. I’ve had my fair share of playing victim and thwarting my own success. However, standing at the top of my career, I will tell you this … at a party, everyone loves laughter. At night, bugs love light. At the end of the day, people want to feel good, speak good and BElieve THEre is GOOD in the world; so BE THE GOOD and stay positive. Your wallet, your heart and her mind will thank you. Shoot, with a little laughter, you might even create the next Facebook or write the next bestselling book (like Randy Gage did when he wrote, “Risky is The New Safe.“). When you stay positive, you are open to solutions. You see things you couldn’t see before. Be a positive source to the media on PitchRate.com — help them report to their readers, viewers and listeners what’s possible in their industries. That will make you  a top go-to media expert. If you’re stuck in drama or constantly see why things won’t work, that will be relayed to media in your interviews. Transform your drama. Find solutions. Track trends. Talk possibility. The media will love you for it and clients will swarm around you like bugs to a night-light. Happy 2013 everyone … and let me leave you with my favorite e.e. cummings quote on staying positive, “Yes is a world & in this world of yes live (skillfully curled) all worlds.” Let me know how you plan to say yes this year.