Friday, October 19, 2012

News of Big Tex’s Tragedy Spreads…like wildfire. PR Nightmare or Opportunity?

As public relations practitioners, we are constantly helping report the news, we are in the news as a client spokesperson, or we are sharing the news. Today’s blog post is the latter – sharing news. A sad, yet newsworthy event happened at the State Fair of Texas this morning. Big Tex, who just commemorated his 60th birthday at the start of this year’s State Fair, went up in flames today! 

With the advent of social media and today’s citizen journalists it is amazing how quickly news spreads. Within minutes of reading @dallasnews Tweet – “Big Tex has gone up in flames. Were you on the scene? Share photos with us using #bigtexfire” –a barrage of Tweets flooded in with reports and images live from the scene. 

So, this blog post is merely to commemorate this iconic image in Dallas’ history. Because we are hard-wired to find the silver lining in a crisis or tragedy, as our team discussed this event in our office, it was brought up that this tragic event may help generate more publicity than ever before during the Fair’s closing weekend. 

Speaking solely from a PR standpoint, it seems like this unfortunate circumstance creates endless potential for more story and visual opportunities throughout the coming year as plans for a new Big Tex take shape, which will undoubtedly culminate with a big reveal  during the opening of the State Fair in 2013. With the exhaustive amount of expected news coverage throughout the next 12 months, perhaps even more of the icon’s beloved “folks” will want to see what this fried food extravaganza is all about. And as long as it is being rebuilt, why not consider a PR campaign to lobby for a new and “improved” icon for the State Fair – “Mrs. Tex” anyone?

RIP Big Tex! (Follow the Twitter discussion with hashtag #bigtexfire)

 This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark Williams @leahcpc


Monday, October 15, 2012

You never can be too prepared. Media training is a must!

Before releasing news, PR professionals are often most concerned with their pitching strategies and how they are best going to get the media’s attention. Because this is the main focus, it is easy to overlook the importance of preparing your client for interviews if and when your pitching efforts are successful. Many times media training is an afterthought, and is often planned or discussed after a reporter has expressed interest in your news. But what happens when a reporter is on a very tight deadline, needing answers directly from your client or requesting to conduct the interview immediately? As the company spokesperson, you never can be too prepared.

To prevent a fire drill on all sides in order to accommodate immediate media inquiries, fact checks or an on-the-spot interview, it is best to conduct a brief media training session with your client BEFORE the news is released. During this session, think like a journalist and ask your client the questions you expect the reporter will ask so if/when   a reporter calls, you and your client will be better prepared to respond quickly. Conducting a media training session prior to an interview will also help set your clients at ease during the interview and will further ensure they stay on message and successfully (yet naturally) weave in the talking points you previously discussed.
It also is likely that the reporter will be “digging” with some of their inquiries, and it is important to clarify in advance with your client every detail of an announcement that can and cannot be discussed. When on a tight deadline, reporters hate nothing more than to hear, “I don’t know, I will have to check with my client.” They realize executives can be hard to track down, and a delay in receiving information can be the cause of a great headache or a missed media opportunity for your client. Simply being prepared when reporters call is the best way to build a mutually beneficial relationship and ensure your client is called upon time and time again as an expert source, especially under a tight deadline.  
Post contributed by: Shelby Menczer @shelbymenczer