Glint Elevates Its Brand with a Broadcast Segment

Glint CEO, Jim Barnett (far left), highlights how incorporating data from employee surveys is important for feedback and starting important conversations.

Glint CEO, Jim Barnett (far left), highlights how incorporating data from employee surveys.

Seizing the Opportunity: Leveraging Its National Study

Glint, an HR platform that helps organizations measure and improve employee engagement, had the key components but needed to get in front of a producer to tell its story. To get CEO Jim Barnett on-air, Highwire leveraged the company’s first-of-its-kind national study about Silicon Valley retention and engagement as a timely hook to highlight Barnett’s expertise.

Effective Execution: Proactive Media Pitching

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Glint CEO, Jim Barnett (right), prepares for his NBC Bay Area segment Press:Here.

Highwire collaborated with the Press:Here host on potential show topics, and once the segment was secured, the team prepped Jim to anticipate all the variables of the fast-paced, panel-style show.

During the segment, entitled “Modern Day Suggestion Box,” Jim positioned himself as a thought leader on a number of topics, including:

  • Winning the Tech Talent War: How to keep tech employees from bailing on their $200,000-a-Year Jobs
  • The Intersection of AI and HR: Why AI isn’t the future of the workplace – It’s here now
  • High-Touch Solutions to Hands-Off Problems: How AI addresses inclusion and diversity issues in Silicon Valley
  • Avoiding Popularity Contest at Work: Balancing company needs with employee wants (without diving off the deep end)

Positive Results: Reaching a Wide Audience

With about 5.25 million people in 9 counties accessing NBC Bay Area, broadcast opportunities like this one allowed Glint to expand and reinforce its brand recognition throughout Silicon Valley.

While there is lots of pre-show work, it doesn’t end when you leave the studio. In this case, Highwire ensured there was a good rapport built with the Press:Here host and panelists in order to encourage future conversations with Barnett.

Click here for more from Jim’s Press:Here segment.

Beyond Email: 9 Tips for Pitching on Twitter, the Phone and at Events

These days, most pitching, the backbone of public relations, starts with an email. You spend hours fine-tuning a pitch with your team, before sending it off to a reporter with your fingers crossed. Often it’s a hit, but sometimes it falls flat.

No responses to your initial email doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a bad pitch or that your announcement isn’t newsworthy. Whether you get a response or not often depends on factors that are out of your hands: a crowded inbox, a misread subject line, poor timing, etc.

Clearly, you can’t solely rely on email, because it isn’t a perfect communication tool. You have to reach the reporters where they are (always keeping in mind that some reporters prefer email-only interaction).

Below, are some strategies from Highwire Walkers on how they like to get in front of reporters, and what to do when you get ahold of them:

Phone Pitching — Andrea Torres, SAE

Public relations and sales have one thing in common – phone calls. Just like salespeople, PR people need to be friendly and get to the point quickly to do our jobs well. When pitching reporters, keep the following in mind:

Do your research: Have you taken the time to dig into your contacts? Have you read or at least skimmed recent stories? If not, stop what you are doing – you are not ready to pick up the phone. Before dialing, spend the time to know whom you are calling and what they are writing about. This step will make sure you make a good first impression and that you are prepared should you have to think of news angles on the fly.

Have a plan: Researching your targets beforehand is one thing, but it won’t get you very far if you haven’t gotten your thoughts and key conversation points organized. This might mean creating an outline to guide you or writing out an entire script. The takeaway is here is to set yourself up for success so to that you can get your point across.

Get to the point: If you want to lock in that briefing, don’t waste a journalist’s time; make your point quickly and concisely. This step is easier if you’ve followed step 1 and 2.

Be Nice: PR is all about relationships, so be nice. When talking to journalists on the phone, ask about their day and smile. It might seem odd, but smiling helps you relax and sound more pleasant.

Twitter Pitching — Ben Noble, AE

Twitter is a high-risk/high-reward platform that can help quickly catch a journalist outside their busy inbox. Journalists who frequently use Twitter are likely to engage in conversation and/or acknowledge posts from their followers. I recommend grabbing the journalist’s attention online with an eye-catching message and then shifting the conversation to email.

Don’t jump headfirst into a pitch: Nobody wants unsolicited pitches clogging up their timeline. Instead, offer insight into an article or post presented on the journalist’s feed. Share your perspective, ask them for their thoughts and offer counterpoints to topics of discussion. Building Twitter relationships starts with a courting process. Once you have a proper cadence of back and forth, indicate that you may have someone who can further address the topic (your client) and offer to send an email.

Avoid pitching several reporters at once. Twitter is an open forum and your tweets are public. Spamming journalists will be noticed and frowned upon.

Follow up – but not the same way as you would through email. If a journalist doesn’t reply to your first attempt at conversation, don’t be dissuaded. Feel free to follow up by prompting another discussion. Don’t remind the journalist of your initial post. Instead, start a new conversation to show that you are legitimately interested in the journalist’s perspective. Again, Twitter relationships involve courting. Prove that you are a committed follower rather than a one-off attention seeker.

Pitching In-Person — Lauren Kido, SAE

For PR pros, seeing reporters in-person is like a celebrity sighting: you usually know so much about them, have the perfect conversation scripted out in your head and are a little hesitant to approach them at first. But, whether the sighting happens at a networking event, conference, tradeshow or at your local coffee shop, here are a few things to keep in mind when pitching reporters in-person:

Make it a conversation: Meeting in-person is an excellent way to build relationships for your client, but it shouldn’t all be business. Strike up a conversation about non-work related topics, and if you’re following a reporter on social media, now’s your chance to ask about the new puppy or how relaxing that beach vacation was (just be sure first to note that you saw their tweet).

Ask questions: You’ve emailed, called and tweeted and now you’re chatting face-to-face! Use this valuable time to get a better sense of what the reporter is working on by asking what they’re interested in covering, tired of hearing about and what thoughts they have on industry trends. It’s also helpful to understand how they might like to be pitched in the future so you can pass this information along to the rest of your team.

Have business cards handy: Business cards should always be kept on hand at any networking event. Make sure to write your client names and websites on your business cards so reporters can easily jog their memory when they are sorting through cards at the end of a long night.

Pitching on Twitter, in-person, on the phone — it can all be daunting. But, with some practice, you get the hang of it, and the coverage will start coming in.

Happy pitching!

 

Written by Ben Levine, an Account Associate in San Francisco, with help from Lauren Kido, Ben Noble and Andrea Torres

From press badges to press releases: Why journalists make the move to PR

Rob Kuznia recently made headlines for taking a job in public relations.  Normally this wouldn’t be newsworthy – there are tons of us PR folk – but there’s a catch: Kuznia made the move from journalism, and what’s more, he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winner.

Similarly, Natalie Caula Hauff, whose former reporting team at The Post and Courier just won a Pulitzer for their investigative series “’Til Death Do Us Part,” was settling in nicely to her relatively new public relations role when she got word of her own big win.

Even here at Highwire, about 30 percent of our staff are ex-journalists or hold degrees in journalism.

So what’s the deal? Why is the journalism-PR transition so natural? And common?

 

We’re Not So Different, You and I

First of all, journalists and public relations professionals share an interesting relationship. Some reporters, though certainly not all of them, look at PR as the cushier, better-paying gig in comparison to journalism, a noble career and public service.  But the thing is, the relationship between journalists and PR pros is rather symbiotic; it’s often difficult for reporters to do their jobs without going through PR gatekeepers, and PR’s success lies largely in media coverage.natalie medill

On top of this working dynamic, PR and journalism require very similar skill sets, and I can tell you this from personal experience. I myself got a master’s from one the top j-schools in the country, Northwestern’s Medill, and have spent time reporting in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Now that I’ve made the transition to Highwire, I find myself applying every tangible skill I learned in that realm to my PR work.

 

A Day in the Life

For instance, a typical day for a journalist could look as follows: She wakes up, knowing she has to file a story by five o’clock.  Always staying one step ahead of the news cycle, she scans local and national media alerts. She finds a story to cover, but before she can dig in, she has to pitch the story to her editor – a succinct “this is what’s going on, this is why it’s relevant and newsworthy, and this is how we should cover it” message. Once she gets the green light, it’s time to do a little reporting.

First, she needs sources to explain the issue at hand and answer her questions. She digs up their contact information, and, for all intents and purposes, cold calls them. She tries and tries and tries and tries until someone finally answers the phone and answers her questions. Then she moves on to her next source and next source until she has the golden standard – a fair and balanced (and informative!) story.natalie stand up

Now she actually has to write that story and turn it into something her audience wants to read. First, the lede – What is the most newsworthy part of this story? She’ll open with that, then explain the details and background later once she has caught the reader’s attention. After she has a draft, she has to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure there are no grammar or syntax errors and ensure that the copy is in line with her publication’s standards – likely AP style or the like. Then it’s off to the presses! Or, more likely, her web editor.

Switching gears, every task described above translates into a crucial skill in the PR realm.

 

Where PR Fits In

One key to success in public relations is a keen awareness of current events and trending topics, thus knowing when and how to best insert a client into the larger social conversation. As do journalists, PR people must be newshounds.

Secondly, as reporters pitch stories to their editors (and as freelancers do to various publications), PR people also have to know how to pitch publications effectively.  We have to be able to show news outlets why a client’s information – an announcement, latest research, etc. – is newsworthy, and suggest the best angle in which it should be covered. Of course in order to pitch, one has to be comfortable with persistently reaching out to members of the media – whom are often (especially in an early professional’s career) complete strangers – similar to how journalists reach out to sources for their stories.newroom

Another huge aspect of both journalism and PR is storytelling – in journalism, for obvious reasons; in public relations, for more veiled reasons. It’s our job to tell the story of our clients to the world – the moves they’re making, the good they’re doing, the information they’re uncovering, the products and services they’re offering. We at times have to dig deep, just as reporters do, to unearth facets of the company that best represent them – whether these be customers with an interesting story to tell, heartwarming personal details of the CEO, or quirky facts about the company’s history – and leverage these into stories that make their way into the news.

 

Moving to the Other Side

So why did I switch? Great question. (Thank you, Self!)

I think public relations is always what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t realize it until I got my reporting feet wet… And sore. (Pro tip: Do NOT wear stilettos on reporting days; save them for stand-ups only.)

Mad props to reporters – Journalism IS, in fact, a really tough job, in so many ways.  Hitting the streets for information and interviews can be physically exhausting, and becoming a quasi-expert on new subjects day after day can cause some serious mental fatigue.

Moreover, in my newsroom days, everyone was working on their own solo stories, and although the place was always abuzz, it was a rather isolated place to work. On the other hand, everyone at Highwire shares a real camaraderie since we’re all working toward the same goals.natalie white house

What I knew I wanted – and thought I would get out of reporting – was the chance to write creatively, edit meticulously (though begrudgingly in the case of the extraneous Oxford comma) and communicate ideas to the public. Working in public relations allows me to do all of this and then some, alongside some really great people.

I’ll always cherish my journalism degree and all the excitement that came with my days in the field, but as Rob and Natalie have already learned, the professional value that lies in these skills can reach far beyond reporting.