Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Four “Free” Ways to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

In the world of B2B PR, it’s an age-old question, “How does media coverage drive leads?” But the better question is, “How CAN marketing teams use media coverage to drive leads?” And Ketner Group has the answers for you.

The hard part is securing the media coverage, and we can do that for you. Once you have a great mention, the easy part is using that media coverage to drive leads. And lucky you, we can help with that too! To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of four easy, and mostly free, ways to do just that.

Share and Share Again

When it comes to social, most of our clients have the “share” step down. When we alert clients to a new piece of coverage, for the most part, they quickly share it to social. But that’s it.

That brings us to “share again.” Whether on LinkedIn or Twitter, social teams should share great coverage time and time again. There are a number of opportunities to bring coverage back to life on your social channels. As you roll out new marketing campaigns or a related trend appears in the news, continue to share the media coverage on social. Rather than simply copying and pasting the original content, tailor each new post to the specific campaign or trending news topic.

Post on Your Website

Along with social, posting coverage to your website should be one of the first things you do when a new mention appears. Media coverage should have a home on your website; either in the same newsroom where you post press releases or on a separate coverage page. Either way, it needs to be visible.

But don’t stop there; use the coverage in your blog. This may mean using coverage as outbound links in relative posts, creating a monthly roundup of news, or for contributed content such as bylines, writing a short blog summary to drive more eyeballs. In addition to outbound links to the coverage itself, blogs should include a CTA that drives your readers to additional gated content on the topic or to request a demo.

Leverage for Email and Newsletter Campaigns

Every B2B company needs to use email and newsletter campaigns to drive leads. One of the most challenging parts of these marketing campaigns is creating engaging, relevant content. Luckily, our editor and reporter friends have done that part for you.

Use this content to feed your lead generation engine. Media coverage carries an authenticity that pure marketing content usually lacks. Your targets are likely to pay more attention to what someone else has to say about your company, solution or the problem you’re trying to solve. Use this to your advantage! Like blogs, include not only a link to the coverage, but also a call to action (CTA) to drive prospects to your website and gated content.

Create a Content Library and Share Internally

Finally, make sure everyone in the organization, from the C-suite down, is aware of coverage and empowered to share it. Create a library of content and assets for team members to easily share via social, email or even print as a leave behind for in-person meetings and events. There are anumber of tools for marketers to enable their teams to find and share content.

How NOT to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Do nothing. That’s what you shouldn’t do when it comes to using media coverage to drive leads. It’s true, from time to time that approach might work. You may be one of the lucky few who make a big splash and suddenly every big-name prospect is knocking at your door. But that’s not the usual reality. If you want to drive great leads, leverage your media coverage — third-party validation is one of your best marketing assets.

Need help? Ketner Group can help you secure great media coverage AND amplify that coverage to drive leads, contact us to learn more.

PRSA Chair Offers Guidance to Facebook

In light of this week’s events surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, we wanted to repost the following guidance from PRSA 2018 National Chair Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA. Please find the email that was distributed from PRSA earlier this week, below.

The current headlines about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, including lax data policies and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s initial silence on the ethical and legislative controversy, prompted PRSA 2018 National Chair Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, to address how values and principles from PRSA’s Code of Ethics could help Facebook to get ahead, and stay ahead, of ongoing crisis developments.

What’s worse than Facebook’s data breach?

Facebook executives have learned, too slowly, that a trust breach is profoundly more damaging than a data breach. The elegantly simple remedies for the former are spelled out in the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Code of Ethics. Warning: Implementing them can require extraordinary courage, a thick skin and hard, sustained work. Not implementing them will lead to further erosion of trust and market capitalization, and a commensurate increase in government hearings and industry regulation.

Mark Zuckerberg, after a glacial delay, responded yesterday to the public outcry for information via “Anderson Cooper 360” and various other statements. An apology is an important start, but it’s reactive. To get ahead of this crisis, here are applicable values and principles from the PRSA Code of Ethics that Facebook should attend to:

Honesty and fairness, which are required for trust to be enabled among stakeholders, and to maintain the integrity of relationships with the public, the media and government officials. This is essential for informed decision-making in a democratic society. In short, come clean and play fair. If there is unpleasant news about what has happened, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, share it completely and quickly for Facebook’s benefit as well as the public’s. You do not want it to come from other sources, as has been happening since 2015 with this matter.

Free flow of information, which trusted organizations consistently advance. Don’t deflect, obfuscate or dissemble. Don’t have attorneys take over communications, which inherently sends a suspicious message.

Act promptly to correct erroneous communications. Crises can have huge magnitude as one-time events, or they can have protracted, steady-drip effects. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has both. Yesterday, Zuckerberg finally answered the urgent question, “Where are you on this?” Henceforth, he and other Facebook leaders must spell out what they’re doing to fix every aspect of every relevant problem and report steadily on progress.

Disclosure of information, to build trust with the public by revealing all information needed for responsible decision-making. After reports this past weekend by The New York Times and the Observer of London, the deputy general counsel at Facebook said, “Everyone involved gave their consent.” Can informed consent happen when millions of Facebook users are seemingly expected, for their own protection, to turn off app settings that they aren’t aware exist?

Reveal the sponsors for causes and interests represented. The information consumer has a right to know whether a message is sponsored and who is sponsoring it.

Safeguarding confidences, to provide appropriate protection of confidential and private information. It is not unethical to keep proprietary information confidential; any company must do so to protect intellectual property and strategies to compete in a robust business environment. However, that information cannot be safeguarded if it harms the interests of the nation or society.

Conflicts of interest must be avoided or ended to ensure one’s professional or personal interests are not in conflict with society’s interests. This requires transparency, and transparency requires speed and consistency to enable trust.

If you can’t figure out what the product is in a given digital or social media app, then you are the product — your data, your attention, your connection to other users. Thousands of users didn’t realize that when they downloaded an app as seemingly innocuous as a personality quiz, it scraped information from not only their Facebook profiles, but from their friends’ profiles as well. Fifty million people were affected, and they don’t care if the cause was Facebook’s policies, its oversight of developers or the actions of a rogue developer. Facebook doesn’t get to assign blame, its customers do. So Facebook is obligated to deliver the facts and let customers decide for themselves if the problem is fixed.

This is a tough situation, and it’s easy for anyone to play Monday morning quarterback. Facebook’s leaders are highly intelligent, and I’ll bet that they’ve been given good PR counsel — but heretofore Facebook’s actions do not reflect best practices.

Therefore, I’d like to offer free, albeit unsolicited advice. Engage public relations professionals, whether on your staff or external, that know PRSA’s Code of Ethics chapter and verse. It will help you and the publics you serve. In fact, I’m willing to assemble a team of PRSA member experts who would be willing to counsel you without fee because the stakes in this far-reaching crisis are astoundingly high.

Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA
2018 National Chair, PRSA

2018 Winter Olympic Games: Over Two Weeks of Public Relations Gold

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been obsessed with the Olympics. It didn’t matter if it was the summer or winter games, I was there, in front of the TV watching every moment I could. I remember watching Mary Lou Retton win the gold medal in the individual all-around competition in 1984, will never forget watching the drama unfold between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, or watching in awe as Michael Johnson broke record after record in Atlanta. My childhood, early adulthood and even in recent years watching the games with my kids, are filled with Olympic memories.

But the Olympic games are also something else – they are a PR dream, or a nightmare, depending on who you are and what situation you are in. For the athletes and the countries they represent, there are plenty of opportunities to overcome seemingly impossible challenges or to come to terms with not standing on the medal podium after years of hard work.

In short, the Olympics is an abundance of PR stories, some sad, some happy and others simply inspiring – and I love them all.

There have been plenty of those PR stories, in the weeks, months and even days leading up to the 2018 Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In fact, as I write this blog – watching the first competition of the figure skating team event – NBC just announced breaking news regarding the Team USA flag-bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony. Apparently, after it was announced this week that veteran luger Erin Hamlin was selected for the flag-bearer honor, U.S. speed skater Shani Davis responded (via Twitter) that he actually lost a tiebreaker coin toss that kept him from carrying the Stars and Stripes:

I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018

WHOA.

As a life-long Olympic spectator, my reaction is just that. Whoa. Yikes. But, as a PR professional, my reaction is to immediately feel for the U.S. Olympic communications team, the IOC’s communications team and of course the reps for both Shani Davis and Erin Hamlin. The games haven’t even started and the Twitter wars have started. Obviously so much has changed since my earliest memories watching the Olympics – the hair, the fashion, the actual competing countries, and of course, the communications aspect.  Of course, the “inspiring stories” with NBC commentators such as Bob Costas and Mary Carillo have always been there to give us a closer look at our favorite Olympic athletes. But it’s the social media component that has really changed the PR game – for better or for worse. I could write an entire blog just on this angle, but for now, I’ll just keep an eye on @Jambobsled (the Jamaican bobsled team) and @TaraandJohnny, and hope that the Twitter wars stay at a minimum.

Over the next 2 ½ weeks, I’ll be watching the Olympics from both the fan and PR perspective – and plan on writing another blog after the closing ceremonies. I’m sure there will be plenty for me to “dish” about – I mean – to give you all my completely unbiased and neutral PR insights.

Go Team USA.

Not All Press Releases are Created Equal: Tips & Tricks for a Successful Press Release

 

In the world of public relations, the words “press release” are part of the daily vernacular in day-to-day communications. The bottom line is, everyone has a story to tell. Whether a company is launching a new product, issuing a breaking news alert, providing details on an upcoming event or highlighting the great work they’ve done, a press release is the best and most efficient way to deliver the news straight to the media and external audiences.

However, not all press releases are created equal. For a press release to be truly successful, companies need to strategically think about the press release content, the timing of the release and the publishing medium they plan to utilize among other top factors. Below are a few best practices to follow when issuing a press release:

Content

For the most part, the content of your press release should be short and straight to the point. As a best practice, the headline should be concise –around five to seven words— while providing a perfect picture of the main point. If possible, use key words that are trending in your sector to expand your SEO reach. You can always use the subhead to provide a broader picture of key components, but the subhead should also be no more than a sentence.

Next, the body should provide the who, what, when, where and why within the first two paragraphs of the release to allow the media to quickly understand the importance of the news and decide if this is something they would like to cover or pass on to someone else.

If you have a quote from a customer or a third-party reference, make sure to position it close to the top or no lower than the middle of the page to ensure visibility. Additionally, include any graphics or short videos you have to accompany your release. Visuals not only help to quickly paint the full picture, but they can also provide additional collateral that media can utilize to tell your story in further detail.

As far as word count is concerned, a press release between 600-800 words should do the trick to not only get the media’s attention, but to also ensure they read the entire release.

Timing

The timing of a release is everything. Ideally, most press releases should go out early in the morning within the time zone you are trying to reach. This allows media publications to receive the news early enough to reach back out to you with any questions they may have for the story they are working on.

Additionally, if you are planning to publish your press release around a big event, ensure you are carving out a specific window of time where you press release can rise above the noise and garner the attention of your target audience. Don’t forget to take into consideration national and bank holidays such as Thanksgiving or Martin Luther King Day, and avoid sending press releases a few days before or after the holiday to prevent your press release going out while your audience’s attention is preoccupied elsewhere.

Publishing Medium

Once your content and timing are established, it’s time to decide how you will publish your press release. At this stage, you will need to answer the question of whether you will be sending out your release through a wire service, such as BusinessWire, PR Newswire, or Nasdaq GlobalNewswire, or directly posting it on your website.

Remember that not all press releases have to be distributed through a wire service. We recommend publishing a press release through a wire service only if your company is announcing a new funding round, product launch or a customer win so that it reaches audiences and media publications beyond your network and amplifies the overall reach of your announcement.

Press releases that discuss new company appointments or upcoming events and speaking engagements can forego the wire and be posted directly to your site. If you go this route, ensure you pitch the press release directly to your core media targets and network, as well as promote your news via your social channels to maximize reach.

Press releases are a great way to quickly and effectively get your company’s news out there. By creating a perfect combination of the right content, timing and publishing strategy, you can ensure your press release is a success for your company.

KG’s Top 10 Favorite Newsletters

The retail industry is rapidly changing every day, and sometimes, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why our team stays up-to-date by subscribing to newsletters that will alert us on breaking Amazon news, inform us of a good responsive pitch opportunity, or give us insight on an interesting new study. Here are our top 10 favorite newsletters to help us stay in-the-know with all things retail and technology:

Industry Dive
“Broken out by vertical – Retail and Supply Chain Dive are my top picks – Industry Dive newsletters offer a combination of breaking news and industry insight I find incredibly useful to my day-to-day work and my overall understanding of the industry. Even the format of the articles, which each include a few summary bullets at the top, makes scanning the news for relevant content simple and convenient.” –Aidan Griffin

L2 Research’s “Winners and Losers” Series
“L2 Research’s weekly ‘Winners and Losers’ video, featuring the hilarious and brilliant Scott Galloway, is a fantastic recap of the brands that are thriving (or not) in the digital age. It really is the best of both worlds for me! I get a data-driven, sometimes provocative, overview of the best and worst performing brands, AND, Professor Galloway always makes me giggle with his crazy, end of video antics. It’s a must-see!” – Catherine Seeds

RetailWire
“RetailWire’s daily newsletter includes three discussion topics that offer great insights into what industry thought leaders consider to be hot topics and it’s a great opportunity for our clients to participate in those ongoing trend discussions. RetailWire’s round up of top headlines is also provides quick reference guide for the biggest industry news of the day.” – Adrienne Newcomb

RIS News
“I’ve turned to this for a long time as another good weekly summary of top news items. It often includes some information gleaned from earnings calls, and it has interesting info on retail technology deployments.” – Jeff Ketner

eMarketer Retail
“This is a newsletter I only just signed up for recently, but have already found to be a valuable resource for data-driven trends. No matter what sort of story or content piece I’m working on for a client, it seems like eMarketer Retail always delivers a relevant data point, consumer study, or industry survey that I can reference.” – Aidan Griffin

IHL Group
“IHL publishes an “Eye on Retail Top 10 News Items” every Saturday, and it’s a succinct summary of the week’s top retail news stories from numerous sources. What I like about it: It comes out on Saturday morning, when I don’t get many emails and my inbox isn’t overflowing – and it nearly always has something useful to me.” – Jeff Ketner

RSR’s Retail Paradox Weekly
“As the tagline says, it’s ‘The Candid Voice in Retail Technology.’ The analysts’ insights into industry trends and happenings are both frank and entertaining – I recently found myself laughing out loud at Paula’s ‘Fake News’ article and her attempt to edit a Wikipedia page.” – Adrienne Newcomb

Sourcing Journal
“Sourcing Journal provides a lot of information you can’t find anywhere else, with a good focus on sourcing and manufacturing. They always have up-to-date information on the industry’s challenges and opportunities and is a great resource for anything related to compliance, sustainability, global trade and more.” – Stacy Lan

Retail TouchPoints
“Retail TouchPoints has a great weekly newsletter that explores the biggest trends throughout retail. I especially enjoy their research studies and features that dive into how retailers are using technology to excel and improve their standing in the industry. Editor-in-Chief Debbie Hauss does a great job curating this content in a way that has me looking forward to it every Tuesday.” – Greg Earl

Fortune Data Sheet
“Fortune Data Sheet provides the latest breaking news across the tech industry, highlighting the top trends taking our world by storm. Combine this with the fact that it lands in my inbox at exactly 8 am. each day and you’ve got the perfect tool to stay up to date.” – Mariana Fischbach

As a PR and marketing agency, our team needs to be on top of news and trends to craft story ideas and pitching opportunities that work best for our clients. These newsletters, and much more, help us leverage the timeliest conversations happening in in this exciting and transforming landscape. Check them out yourself to stay informed on what’s trending in retail technology!

Retailers are fighting back this year on Prime Day


This blog was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Amazon launched their third annual Prime Day starting Monday, July 10. Prime Day 2017 was the biggest sales day in history for Amazon, surpassing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday according to the Amazon press release highlighting the outcome of Prime Day this year. Despite popular opinion, this ‘micro’ holiday is not about boosting sales. It is simply a marketing tactic to advertise their “Prime” membership that guarantees customers fast shipping for an annual fee. And, boy, does it work.

Prime Day sales grew by more than 60 percent from last year, with a “record number” of Prime members shopping across 13 countries, Amazon said. It added that “tens of millions of Prime members” made purchases during Prime Day, up more than 50 percent from Prime Day in 2016.

According to a recent Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report, from June of 2016 to June of 2017, Amazon gained around 44 million subscribers. Although Amazon refuses to disclose an exact number, estimates show that Prime currently has around 85 million subscribers.

With 30 hours to shop, Prime members flocked especially to Amazon devices like the Echo, Fire tablets and Kindle devices, with the most popular device sold being the Amazon Echo Dot. Other top sellers include DNA tests for health and ancestry, gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Plus memberships. The sales event also slashed prices on a number of fashion items and beauty products, including marked down fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Gant and Tommy Hilfiger, with prices going down by as much as 40%, according to The Telegraph.

An Opportunity for Retailers
Although Amazon has seen major success from its annual holiday, it doesn’t mean that competing retailers need to fret. Research suggests that Prime Day could, in fact, be helpful to other online retailers. According to an analysis from Criteo, Prime Day creates a “halo effect” for other retailers, with online traffic increasing for major ecommerce sites around 15% on Prime Day 2016 and the day after, compared with weeks earlier.

 This means that Amazon Prime Day is the perfect opportunity for retailers to cash in on the consumption culture that the online giant created, a similar effect from Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Shoppers are on the hunt for well-timed promotions within this time frame, and it’s up to retailers to lure them in beyond Amazon’s borders. For example, Claus Commerce-powered Freeshipping.com boosted profits last year when they saw an uptick in their number of orders and the average order value, when they offered a 20% discount last Prime Day according to Bezinga, indicating that positive outcomes can come out of Prime Day, even for competitors.

Time to Get Creative
Retailers are trying harder this year to grab customers’ attention and drive sales around Amazon Prime Day. Kohl’s offered 30% discounts on summer clothes and accessories for 30 hours.  Other stores like Toys R Us and Best Buy were also ahead of the game and featuring sales lasting six hours longer than Prime Day, featuring sales on Google Home.

Retailers should learn that in order to compete with Amazon, they have to be creative in the way they advertise around this holiday fueled by capitalism. They will have to market products consumers want at a reasonable price, advance technology on mobile platforms and get innovative to grab customers’ attention.

Retailers that stepped up to the plate on Prime Day in terms of competition were Wal-Mart and its digital company, Jet.com, as well as Macy’s. Wal-Mart matched many of Amazon’s discounts on various items. Market Track compared prices and determined Wal-Mart’s efforts to compete stood out the most among many companies. Similarly, Macy’s hosted their annual “Black Friday in July” sale that offered 25% off site-wide and offered free shipping exclusively on Prime Day.

With sales expected to top $1 billion this year, Amazon has seen major success in its Prime Day efforts. Now, it’s up to competing retailers to strategize their game for next year so that e-commerce customers can focus their attention on deals outside of Prime Day.

Projected Father’s Day Spending Reaches All-Time High

This blog was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Dads, and retailers, will be getting some extra love this year on Father’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insight and Analytics. Total spending for the holiday is expected to hit a record high of $15.5 billion.

Consumers are spending differently this year and are focused on the experience rather than the gift. For retailers, this means traditional tactics such as ads featuring sporting goods or cars will not suffice. When it comes to marketing around Father’s Day, retailers need to add a personal touch to effectively reach their target consumer.

“This is especially true when looking at the buying habits of millennials, most of whom crave a deeper connection to the brands they support when they shop for Father’s Day gifts,” said Elaine Kwon, founder of e-commerce management firm Kwontified, in a recent Fierce Retail article.

Kwon further explained, “that shoppers love the delight of sharing a “cool new brand” as something that makes for a terrific gift. She foresees new brands with cult followings to transition strongly this Father’s Day. For example, she named brands such as Bevel and Dollar Shave Club.”

NRF says the average shopper will spend $134.75 this year on Father’s Day gifts. Beyond experiences, other popular gifts include gift cards, clothing and consumer electronics. Each of these categories are projected to sell over $1 billion this year. Gifts for handy dads such as tool boxes and DIY items were less popular but still expected to generate $885 million in sales. Retailers should curate their assortments and discount strategies across various categories to make the most of Father’s Day sales.

“Planning an assortment that goes beyond the usual cologne or bathrobe will work wonders for retailers looking to stand out. Since so many gift-givers want to surprise their dads with an experience, show how your products can tie into an exciting outing through your marketing campaigns,” recommends Angelica Valentine in a recent Quad Analytix blog referencing the NRF report.

Surprisingly, NRF reported that 39.9% of consumers plan on buying their gifts in department stores compared to only 33.7% planned to order gifts online. From rural strip-malls to major department stores, it has been a disastrous two years for retail. We keep hearing about the “retail apocalypse” and how everything is moving to e-commerce. Similar to Mother’s Day this year which also had record-high sales projections, many consumers still come to brick and mortar stores to touch and see, and make sure the gift is perfect for dad.

“Shoppers are planning to spend more than ever this year, and retailers have a lot to gain from this 8.4 percent larger projection over 2016 if they can tap into the right data,” said Valentine.

Last month, despite the projected increase in Mother’s Day spending, the retail industry experienced an unexpected decline in retail sales during May. We’ll have to wait and see if Father’s Day is able give the overall retail industry a boost for the month of June.

And there’s a niche market that definitely benefits from timely, gift-giving holidays. I am part of the majority of consumers (64%) that will buy greeting cards this Father’s Day. A sweet note adds a personal touch that any dad would appreciate. Personally, while shopping for the perfect card for my dad, I opted for a humorous approach (you know, dads love dad jokes). I decided on a Star Wars card with Darth Vader on the front that says, “We can’t pick our fathers so I sure lucked out with you.”

From all of us at Ketner Group, Happy Father’s Day!

 

Election 2016 Coverage

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will forever go down in history as the day America unexpectedly, according to underestimated polling projections, elected its 45th President. Like most of the country, Ketner Group had been keeping an eye on the debates and discussions leading up to the election and are now looking forward to how the country will change under this new leadership. We’ve pulled together some coverage we’ve seen since the announcement of the President-elect that highlight how the election could affect retail as we head into the holiday season:

Retail Federation Watching for Donald Trump’s Trade Policy

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is closely watching how President-elect Trump’s policies could impact consumer sentiment and spending as we head into the holidays.

Shortly after Trump was announced as President-elect, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay asked him as well as other members of Congress to practice pragmatism when implementing new policies that will affect trade with other countries and the retail industry. This statement comes after Trump has made comments that would greatly impact the industry.

Forbes contributor Richard Kestenbaum takes a look at two major effect Trump’s election to the Presidency could have on retail: paralysis and costs.

The fashion industry is keeping a keen eye on how Trump’s policies will affect trade and taxes. During his campaign he released proposals he would implement during his first 100 days in office, among them would be a renegotiating or removal of major trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP and changes to the tax code which could have major implications for the fashion industry.

As retailers wrap up a difficult year, the economic uncertainty from the election, as well as trade and tax policies that could be enacted under a Trump presidency, have retailers bracing for major change in the industry.

Photo provided by Kathleen See
Photo provided by Kathleen See

PRSA Corner: Breaking Through the Noise and Reaching Your Target Audience

ClpsEJ3UYAAqeNFWe recently attended and were the official sponsor of the June PRSA Austin Chapter Luncheon. The luncheon titled, “Media Relations: Insights from the Newsroom,” featured three journalist panelists who discussed how media has evolved over the years, the integration of skills and technology in media relations and how PR professionals can (and should) break through the noise to reach target audiences. Here are some highlights:

Tara Doolittle is the Viewpoints editor for the Austin American-Statesman and is in charge of the editorial pages and online commentary. She began as a rookie reporter in 1997 and has worked with the newspaper’s reporting teams covering education, city hall and lifestyle. As many journalists do, Tara receives over 400 emails a day, which means getting her attention is no easy task. Although she gives first priority to local pitches over others, she tells PR folks to send short pitches, know who you are pitching and focus on the journalist’s interests, and course, always be sensitive to deadlines. Other key take-aways from Tara:

  • For hard news and community engagement pitches, Tara recommends doing research on how other publications (in other areas) report certain trends and how those trends might play out locally. Look for ways to tell the local story. As well, Tara says PR professionals should “think broadly” because the Statesman is not just a print newspaper, but a multimedia content platform.
  • According to Tara, the digital space is the way to go, especially with social media and sharing. She recommends PR professionals think about this when it comes to pitches. Photos and videos are a great way to keep people on the website for longer periods of time – it’s a win-win for everyone!
  • Tara said the biggest struggle she faces as an editor for a daily local newspaper is serving three sets of readers because they all want different things: folks who don’t pay for online content; folks who do pay and read online content; and full subscribers.

Erin Quinn-Kong is the editor-in-chief of Austin Monthly and the editorial director of Austin MonthlyAustin HOME and austinmonthly.com. A Missouri native, she attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism and worked in New York City as an editor at Allure and Us Weekly before moving to Austin in 2008. Compared to the Statesman, Austin Monthly operates with a smaller staff who has to work very hard to keep up with daily and monthly deadlines. It’s a fast-paced environment (with a small staff), which definitely makes it hard for PR professionals to get the attention of the editorial team. Knowing that, Erin says it is critical for PR professionals to know why the story would work in her publication, and know who you’re pitching to and why. Other key take-aways from Erin:

  • Pitches come into play when they make a connection to something that relates to the local area, or that may have appeared “buzz worthy” on social media. That is the sweet spot on pitches!
  • Erin recommends asking them to coffee. As editors, she believes it is part of their job to know the PR people in town. Having the opportunity to be “face to face” with PR professionals is a much better way to connect than an email.
  • Her biggest challenges as the editor of Austin Monthly include creating boundaries between her job and life and the struggle of small budgets and staff combined with high expectations.

 Haley Cihock is Executive Producer for KXAN. With 15 years of experience in broadcast news, she writes, edits and manages a team of producers, anchors, editors and field reporters working on the noon newscasts across two channels. According to Haley, the best stories come from community engagement – listening to the buzz around town, hearing what local citizens are talking about – and then figuring out how to cover the story. She believes that Austin has an engaged audience and people in the city really want to talk. At KXAN, social media is a huge tool for listening for potential stories. Other key take-aways from Haley:

  • Make no mistake, there is limited “on air” time, so Haley recommends that PR professionals pass story ideas and news to the digital side to get more bang for the buck. Using multichannel media is a great way to disperse the message, and it is how stories evolve, especially when it is resonating with people. Haley also says the evolution of media means that things are moving faster and faster, things get lost, so PR folks should try more than one platform to tell their story.
  • As an on-air journalist, Haley has to think of the bigger picture, but often times receives “micro” pitches from PR professionals. Pitches have to be bigger than just one thing. It is important to think beyond your client or your one story – try to make connections that could turn into bigger feature stories.
  • Her biggest challenges as an on-air journalist is always trying to be the first with the story, but to also to get the story right and do it better than anyone else. Erin believes that, for TV journalists, the challenges haven’t changed much, but the ways of approaching them are changing. Her two biggest pieces of advice is to not send video to the newsroom (they have to shoot their own) and to not send gifts to on-air journalists.

Shoptalk 2016: It’s All An Experience

Shoptalk

Last week the Ketner Group team attended the inaugural Shoptalk conference at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The much-anticipated conference lived up to its promise, bringing top industry leaders together to discuss the technology disruption currently turning the industry on its head.

Shoptalk offered a three-day jam-packed agenda that in true Vegas fashion ran well into the late hours of the night, bringing with it great networking opportunities, organic thought leadership conversations and even a stellar performance by Wyclef Jean at the conference’s Industry Night.

This year’s sessions also brought a few resonating themes and posed several questions about where the industry will find itself in the next few years. It’s no surprise that the wave of technologies available to retailers today has them scrambling for a roadmap of the perfect combination needed to deliver the greatest customer experience possible.

Both vendors and retailers throughout the show agreed that the customer experience is paramount. No matter if your organization is omnichannel, strictly digital or only brick-and-mortar, at the end of the day shopping is not about channels, it’s an experience, and the technology that you implement throughout should create a memorable experience.

Here are the top interesting takeaways we gathered from industry leaders at this year’s Shoptalk:

  • Buying a product is an experience; all touch points must intersect in order to create this experience.
  • Retailers are now living in an all-channel universe; the Internet will not destroy physical stores, it will just grow to be a part of every transaction.
  • The customer has never been more in charge.
  • What is happening to retailers right now in terms of adopting in-store technology and becoming omnichannel should be considered an evolution vs. a revolution.
  • Technology will not dehumanize the physical store experience—it will enhance it.
  • The principles of retailing are still there, but retailers need to figure out the balance between old and new.
  • Be agile – everything that touches a retailer’s organization touches the consumer.
  • Retail complexity breeds a different opportunity, people will still need to understand what humans want and this will lead to new opportunities to bring together data, artificial intelligence and technology to meet the customer’s needs.
  • Think of artificial intelligence as amplified intelligence for retailing.

All in all, the conversations at Shoptalk demonstrate that while the industry is continuing to adopt technology and change, this is only the beginning. Can’t wait to see what innovative topics Shoptalk brings to the table in 2017!