Elizabeth Yekhtikian

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    • Member Type(s): Communications Professional
    • Title:Vice President, Media Strategy
    • Organization:InkHouse
    • Area of Expertise:Media Training
    •  

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    How Media Training Has Evolved in Today's Frenetic News Cycle

    Thursday, March 22, 2018, 1:38 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Media training has never been more important than it is now because we live in a 24/7 breaking news environment. Succinct sound bites and interview prep are critical for conducting a stellar media interview—but the reality today is our attention is being bombarded 24/7 with everything from horrific news like school shootings to a political landscape that is as precarious as it is distracting. 

    What this means is reporters are scrambling to cover breaking news and there is less room for feature news or live segments on the latest trends—reflecting the ever-changing media landscapeBut opportunities still exist, though more rare and coveted, to shine as a spokesperson. How can you make sure you absolutely ace your next interview and stand out in an unforgiving media environment?

    • Prep, prep, prep: Steve Jobs wasn’t born a natural spokesperson. Check out this 1978 prep for his first live broadcast interview. As you can see, he was far from the smooth, articulate and sound bite-fueled spokesperson we came to know through the decades. Make sure you approach each interview with the three points you want to get across: write them down and practice saying them out loud or, even better, rehearse in front of  a colleague or friend. This prep will ensure that, no matter how the interview goes, you will have these points top of mind and can always revert to them. Make sure you also do your homework about what the reporter covers and read his or her latest articles. Your PR team will prepare briefing documents for you: read through them carefully.
    • Be Proactive: Be prepared to answer questions about how your particular topic and expertise plays into the larger trends in our world today. This will make you more relevant, engaging and quotable.
    • Pivot: Saying “no comment” never works. It makes you look defensive and signals discomfort. Instead, block negative questions and bridge to the topic you would like to address. For example, if a reporter seems to be digging for dirt on the competition, instead of replying that you can’t talk about that or (worse) that you have no competition, say something like, “We work in a dynamic sector and meeting the needs of our customers is our number one priority right now.”
    • Educate and Build a Relationship: The reality is you most likely know more about the topic you are being interviewed on than the reporter. This makes you a credible source to whom the reporter can go back to time and time again. Nurture that relationship and take it seriously.
    • If You Dread It, You Will Get It: Ask yourself which question you are least prepared for and then practice your answer. No doubt your instincts are right and you inevitably will be asked questions about your competition, your differentiators and customers.

    At the end of the day, the media will always need great spokespeople to personalize their stories and reach their target audience. So channel your inner Steve Jobs or find someone you admire as a spokesperson, do your prep, and get ready to reach the masses. 

    This blog post originally appeared on InkHouse blog:bit.ly/2puHCCd 

    Disciplined Growth Strategies: A Review

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 8:45 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Peter Cohan, Inc. columnist and Forbes contributor, serial entrepreneur and professor, recently wrote his twelfth book entitled Disciplined Growth Strategies, which is now available on Amazon.com.

    He asks the seemingly simplistic question that is far from rudimentary when it comes to understanding start-up success: Why do so few companies make it?I caught up with Cohan and asked him to elaborate on three points that he highlights throughout his book.

    Q: In the book you mention three keys to success: intellectual humility, ability to attract and motivate top talent, and willingness to bet on growth. Can you provide some real world examples of successful companies that encompass these three qualities?

    I am happy to do that. A great example of intellectual humility is what Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, did when he realized in 2007 that the iPhone was going to make Netflix’s DVD-by-Mail business obsolete.

    Rather than trying to preserve its existing business, Hastings looked at the online streaming business and realized that it would require different skills. He cut back on people who were involved in ordering and stocking DVDs and, after realizing that he would not be able to afford to license streaming video from movie studios, started hiring people who could produce Netflix-made shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

    When it comes to attracting and motivating the best talent, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook has done a masterful job. His vision for the future and his ability to execute is so exceptional that he was able to hire Sheryl Sandberg as COO to do the many things which Zuckerberg realized were essential for Facebook’s growth but that he did not do well.

    And when it comes to making bets on growth, there is no leader who comes close to Jeff Bezos. When Amazon was started, it was a web front-end for ordering books. But as Amazon grew and started selling more goods online, Bezos realized that he would not be able to provide outstanding prices and service unless he made the enormous investments in warehouses, robots, systems, and logistics networks needed to make excellent service a consistent reality for its customers.

    Q: What about company culture: can you speak to how vital that is to success? Any examples of good company culture at start-ups and culture gone wrong?

    I have examples in the book of great and terrible company cultures. Identity management software provider, SailPoint has created a 4I’s culture (integrity, individuals, impact, innovation) which has helped the company achieve 100 percent employee satisfaction and 40 percent bookings growth. Culture contributes to growth because it attracts talented people who are motivated to act according to values that give ever-better products to customers.

    Q: The main premise of the book is the importance of achieving disciplined growth: what do you mean by this?

    Disciplined growth means sustaining high revenue growth as a company scales – at least 20 percent a year – that is based not on short-term gimmicks but on creating sustainable value. Companies can fall off the disciplined growth track by growing much more slowly than investors expected – that’s what caused LinkedIn stock to lose 44 percent of its value in a few minutes in February 2016 – ultimately costing the company its independence, albeit for an attractive price of $26.2 billion, when Microsoft bought it.

    On the other extreme, you can have companies that grow much faster than the industry for reasons that are not sustainable and when those reasons come to light, the stock plunges. That’s what happened with Valeant, a pharmaceutical company that enjoyed a 1,000 percent spike in its stock from 2008 to 2015 as revenue rose 13x to $10.4 billion. With massive price hikes and fake accounting exposed – its stock fell 96 percent.

    Q: Can you provide some real world examples of seemingly successful companies that ended up failing and describe why they didn’t make it?

    Benefits software supplier Zenefits hit a $4.5 billion valuation based on what seemed to be unstoppable growth. But that growth was based on faking it – when news of licensing exam cheating became public, the company’s valuation plummeted 56 percent and about half its employees were fired.

    Q: What role do you attribute to PR in making a company successful? What companies do you think you "know" because of good PR?

    Good PR is better than free advertising because it adds the credibility of a media brand to a company that readers might not otherwise have heard of. What makes PR good is if the company is able to craft a story that the reporter believes to be a compelling narrative based on solid reporting.

    Q: You speak to dozens of start-ups weekly as a reporter. Do you quickly gain a sense of which start-ups will still be around next year?

    Yes – the ones that will survive can tell a story of profitable growth, a culture that enables the company to attract talented people, financing by highly-reputed investors, happy customers, and a proven ability to adapt to change and keep growing.

    *This article originally appeared on the InkHouse PR Blog

    Q&A with Scott Goldberg of ABC News Radio

    Thursday, April 14, 2016, 11:38 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    We recently had the chance to catch up with anchor Scott Goldberg of ABC News Radio about what a typical day means (if there is anything typical about a 24-hour news cycle), how radio is resilient and how storytelling in this medium must be adaptable.


    ABC Radio syndicates America’s largest commercial radio news network, ABC News Radio, along with the ABC Radio Lifestyle and Entertainment network, ABC Sports Radio and ABC Radio Digital to over 1,500 radio stations and multiple digital distributors.  ABC Radio reaches more than 67.5-million listeners each week across broadcast and digital audio platforms.  ABC Radio is part of the Disney ABC Television Group.  

    Goldberg joined the network in 2011, and he has covered a number of important stories, including Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the 2012 presidential election, the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and the hated polar vortices of winter 2013. He has spent more than a decade covering business, political and breaking news for TV stations in the South and Midwest. He is the winner of five regional Emmys and two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and received the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Writing in 2015. He also has been a contributor to three national Murrow awards, including ABC News Radio’s 2014 awards for coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and Overall Excellence.


    Here are his thoughts on what a day in the life is like at ABC News Radio, why lunch and sleep are luxuries and what PR professionals can do to make sure they have the right approach when pitching this medium.

    Q: Describe your day as a correspondent/anchor – while there isn’t a typical day in radio, on average, what does your day look like?

    A: There absolutely is no such thing as a typical day! We’re a 24-hour news service and at the mercy of events as they develop. If it’s a big story, that means special reports, live anchored coverage … maybe spur-of-the-moment travel … you never know. 

    That said, a “typical” day as a correspondent (for morning drive radio), means waking up at 3:30 a.m., doing prep work on the way to the studio, starting to file pieces by 5 a.m., and beginning live two-ways (as a guest on shows around the country) starting at 6 a.m. It’s a mix of reporting, 2-ways and conducting some interviews for our digital channel until 10 a.m. After that, it slows down a little, and I can work on projects with longer time horizons. Unless, of course, something’s breaking. If all goes well, I can leave by 2 p.m.

    Anchoring means writing and delivering every word of two newscasts every hour. Three-and-a-half minutes at the top, one minute at the bottom. Plus special reports as the news warrants. Our anchors have to preview, select and play every piece of sound (interviews, reporter pieces, etc.) they use in a newscasts. A typical anchor shift involves six cycles (two newscasts per cycle), with at least two hours of prep time before the first newscast. And then we typically stay after our last newscast to file a report other anchors can use – or work on longer-term projects. 

    I always eat at my desk, unless I’m on the road and can’t eat.

    Q: How has broadcast journalism evolved over the years?

    A: Oh boy. I’m old enough to have seen the evolution from thick video tape to memory cards (in TV), the transition from linear to digital editing (TV and radio), the transition from managers hating the web (No! Don’t send viewers/listeners there!) to loving it (Can you write another version for the website?) … and, of course, social media. Everyone’s still trying to figure that out. And there are SO many sources of news now. So many competition for ears and eyes. And no such thing as appointment viewing and listening. People can get what they want, when they want it, often without paying for it. It’s tough. But somehow we keep making it work (and the death of radio, in particular, keeps getting greatly exaggerated).

    Q: How have you needed to adapt your storytelling approaches to your audiences?       

    A: Good storytelling is the one thing that always stands out – no matter if it’s a newspaper article, a TV piece or a radio report. Said another way, it doesn’t matter how the news gets delivered – people respond well to stories that are smartly written and produced. In this business, you spend years developing your own voice. I see it as the ability to be authoritative yet conversational. One thing I’ve had to practice is being more casual in my writing and delivery because the world is getting so much less formal. I used to think a credible correspondent had to be the guy in the trench coat sounding like an English professor. But nobody wants to listen to that guy. Sometimes you have to say “dude!” and be OK with it. But get the facts right. 

    Q: Does radio have more staying power than TV –TV has gone the way of video, so what about radio?

    A: You know, it’s a great question. If you look at the stats, radio still reaches more people – even younger people. And it seems to keep re-inventing itself. I’m not sure that the challenges facing radio are so different than the challenges facing all media. We just need to be nimble and reach people in the places where they’re looking for information, and be there when they want to listen. Not just when we’d like them to listen.

    Q: What types of stories do you look for in PR pitches?

    A: In a word, relevance. And access! OK, two words. I want to know why anyone should care about what you’re pitching. And if it’s a good story, I want access to the compelling voice, the character, the person at the heart of the story – and not just a talking head. It should be relatable, with an easy tie to someone’s life or – at least – to a story/issue we’re hearing about in the news.

    Q: What stories are the most ripe for radio? How is radio different from other types of media?

    A: As I mentioned before, I think a good story for users of one medium can be a good story anywhere, as long as it’s told well. For radio, we need sound. That may seem obvious, but I want to HEAR whatever we’re talking about. Don’t just tell me about drones, let me hear that buzz. Apart from needing those sound effects (“elements” as we call them), we just need good, relatable topics. Think about the stories that catch your attention in the car, shower or wherever YOU listen to the radio. Why and how did the topic/issue/characters speak to you? We’re looking for stories that do the same thing.  

    Q: How have PR folks helped you, and what value have you gotten out of PR pitches?

    A: I love it when someone says “You know that thing in the news? I’ve got a story with an angle you haven’t heard before.” Or “You gotta hear what this person has to say.” Or when PR folks know we have franchises that go out regularly (Tech Trends, for example) and say “I’ve got a topic that would make a good one of those” – that’s really awesome. And when a pitch doesn’t pan out, keep trying! It’s never personal, and we’re always looking for ideas.

     A version of this post originally appeared on the InkHouse Inklings blog.

    A Conversation with NPR's Here & Now

    Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:27 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Here & Now is a live production of NPR and WBUR Boston and reaches an estimated 3.7 million weekly listeners on over 424 stations across the country. The show, which is co-hosted by award winning journalists Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson, began in 1997, expanded to two hours in 2013, and features innovators, artists and newsmakers from around the globe. I recently reconnected with Dean Russell, associate producer of the show and someone with whom I have had the pleasure of working on a few stories over the past two years. He was kind enough to talk to me about the show, what makes it so unique and poignant, as well as his thoughts on the future of radio.

    EY: How did you get started in radio-what led you to Here and Now?

    DR: I studied music technology and composition at Northeastern and after a series of disappointing jobs doing sound design, I took an internship with The Jim & Margery Show before it moved to WGBH. That got me more interested in radio, and so I took another internship with On Point at WBUR. I started out doing mostly technical sound production, but shifted into the journalism side. On Point was a fit so they hired me. After three years with them, I moved over to Here & Now for a change of pace and production style. I have been here for a little over a year.

    EY: What is your favorite story you have worked on at Here & Now?

    DR: Two moments come to mind. The host Jeremy Hobson and I just wrapped on a weeklong obesity series. We explored obesity rates, demographic shifts, healthcare costs, the latest research, and the food industry. One of the best conversations was with three people living with obesity and the challenges they face. The second conversation was part of Here & Now’s American Music series that I am fortunate enough to produce. We spoke with hip hop artist Le1f about what the term “American music” means to him. As a young rapper, a trained ballet dancer and an African-American gay man, Le1f’s perspective on music is unparalleled and it came through in the segment. Listen to that story here.

    EY: What in your opinion was the story that had the most impact this year?

    DR: There is no definite answer to this one. An example might be one small story about Qirat Chappra, a terminally ill 18-year-old who spent most of her childhood at a children’s hospital in Houston. Chappra had not seen her parents, who live in Pakistan, for 13 years; they were having trouble getting a visa to see their child one last time before she died. Friends and family started a petition on the White House website to try and get her parents an emergency visa with little luck. We ran this back in November. The story made it to the right people and the parents were granted visas. They arrived in Houston just days before she died. Listen to that story here.

    EY: What makes a good radio story?

    DR:  A good story is unbiased and makes clear why it matters to the listener, no matter who that listener may be. It may elicit curiosity or outrage or a sense of quiet reflection. It is accurate and fair and for a national show, the story must have national resonance.

    EY: What do you need from a PR pitch for it to work for radio?

    DR: This is a difficult thing to do, no doubt. A PR representative is, by definition, working to shape the public image of his or her client, representing that client’s interest. When making the pitch, it is important to understand why anyone other than the client will and should care. An interview with a home builder may not be interesting to the average person and only acts as a promotion for the home builder. If you want an ad, buy ad space. But an interview with that same home builder done just after a new report shows home sales are skyrocketing? That’s interesting because he or she represents a primary source in a larger story. Remember that from our perspective, a producer is finding the story, not creating one.

    The other thing to remember is that Here & Now is a national show. We are often pitched stories that start with Boston or the Boston-area. They could be great stories, but think about someone in Casper, Wyoming or Galena, Alaska. There should be national resonance. That often gets confused because we do air local stories, but again they are an example of something that happens nationally.

    Also, keep it simple and short. If you have a good story, you can probably communicate it in two or three sentences.

    EY: Do you think radio has more staying power vs. TV? People are watching less and less TV but radio seems immune. Why is this?

    DR: This is a question for much smarter people than myself. What I can say is that the way we consume is changing on all platforms. People view less TV on TV, true. But web and streaming are soaring. For radio, people still drive their cars, and still tune in. But there is a future ahead of which no one can be sure. Think podcasts and phone streaming and something yet to be invented.

    I think the more important question regarding the issue of TV and radio is what makes them different, especially in the news world. The answer is the reason I work for public radio. There is more freedom to do the stories that would not usually make the cut on TV network news. The strange, quirky segments. Public radio lives in a world between documentaries and network news. It covers what’s breaking, but it does not ignore the slower paced and personal stories. On top of that, the lack of visuals requires imagination on the part of the listener. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. For me, it’s a good thing.

    EY: What can potential spokespeople do to be more comfortable when they conduct a radio interview? (See my blog post on interview prep for more tips as well.)

    DR: As Allen Iverson said, “Practice.” Practice for the hard questions. Practice for the easy questions. And after all the practice, remember that it’s a conversation, not a Q&A. A guest can be prepared for anything, but being prepared is not the same as preparing a statement. Good radio comes from real conversation. It is organic and the best parts are never predetermined. The more open the potential guest is to real conversation,  the better they will be.

    H&N believes in respecting its guests and its listeners. We do not believe in “gotcha” questions, but we will not ignore criticism.  I press this because a lot of times, people are hoping for the softball interview – or worse, they are expecting it. What is often ignored is that softball interviews are condemned by news consumers. Anything in that interview is automatically rejected as false, even if it’s true.  So getting the hard question may actually be a good thing. It just depends on how it’s handled.

    EY: Who is the best interview you have had on Here & Now and why?

    DR: I’m going to have to disappoint and offer no answer here. We are talking thousands of people, stretching back years before I came aboard. The best interviews are the truest. The ones that make you say, ‘Yes! That person gets it!’

    EY: Anything I should ask that I haven’t?

    DR: There’s a particular skill to making a pitch. Typically we are all bogged down with deadlines that we can be blunt. I urge anyone making a pitch not to take offense. If you have a good story, keep trying. But you have to believe it is a good story. And be clear about what you are offering. Is the person a good talker? Are they clear? Are they interesting? Do they speak like they are speaking to regular people? Or do they sound like they’re reading corporate bullet points? In the end it comes down to knowing what sounds good, what feels human and what is accurate and fair.

     

    Here & Now is a live production of NPR and WBUR Boston and reaches an estimated 3.7 million weekly listeners on over 424 stations across the country. The show, which is co-hosted by award winning journalists Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson, began in 1997, expanded to two hours in 2013, and features innovators, artists and newsmakers from around the globe. I recently reconnected with Dean Russell, associate producer of the show and someone with whom I have had the pleasure of working on a few stories over the past two years. He was kind enough to talk to me about the show, what makes it so unique and poignant, as well as his thoughts on the future of radio.

    EY: How did you get started in radio-what led you to Here and Now?

    DR: I studied music technology and composition at Northeastern and after a series of disappointing jobs doing sound design, I took an internship with The Jim & Margery Show before it moved to WGBH. That got me more interested in radio, and so I took another internship with On Point at WBUR. I started out doing mostly technical sound production, but shifted into the journalism side. On Point was a fit so they hired me. After three years with them, I moved over to Here & Now for a change of pace and production style. I have been here for a little over a year.

    EY: What is your favorite story you have worked on at Here & Now?

    DR: Two moments come to mind. The host Jeremy Hobson and I just wrapped on a weeklong obesity series. We explored obesity rates, demographic shifts, healthcare costs, the latest research, and the food industry. One of the best conversations was with three people living with obesity and the challenges they face. The second conversation was part of Here & Now’s American Music series that I am fortunate enough to produce. We spoke with hip hop artist Le1f about what the term “American music” means to him. As a young rapper, a trained ballet dancer and an African-American gay man, Le1f’s perspective on music is unparalleled and it came through in the segment. Listen to that story here.

    EY: What in your opinion was the story that had the most impact this year?

    DR: There is no definite answer to this one. An example might be one small story about Qirat Chappra, a terminally ill 18-year-old who spent most of her childhood at a children’s hospital in Houston. Chappra had not seen her parents, who live in Pakistan, for 13 years; they were having trouble getting a visa to see their child one last time before she died. Friends and family started a petition on the White House website to try and get her parents an emergency visa with little luck. We ran this back in November. The story made it to the right people and the parents were granted visas. They arrived in Houston just days before she died. Listen to that story here.

    EY: What makes a good radio story?

    DR:  A good story is unbiased and makes clear why it matters to the listener, no matter who that listener may be. It may elicit curiosity or outrage or a sense of quiet reflection. It is accurate and fair and for a national show, the story must have national resonance.

    EY: What do you need from a PR pitch for it to work for radio?

    DR: This is a difficult thing to do, no doubt. A PR representative is, by definition, working to shape the public image of his or her client, representing that client’s interest. When making the pitch, it is important to understand why anyone other than the client will and should care. An interview with a home builder may not be interesting to the average person and only acts as a promotion for the home builder. If you want an ad, buy ad space. But an interview with that same home builder done just after a new report shows home sales are skyrocketing? That’s interesting because he or she represents a primary source in a larger story. Remember that from our perspective, a producer is finding the story, not creating one.

    The other thing to remember is that Here & Now is a national show. We are often pitched stories that start with Boston or the Boston-area. They could be great stories, but think about someone in Casper, Wyoming or Galena, Alaska. There should be national resonance. That often gets confused because we do air local stories, but again they are an example of something that happens nationally.

    Also, keep it simple and short. If you have a good story, you can probably communicate it in two or three sentences.

    EY: Do you think radio has more staying power vs. TV? People are watching less and less TV but radio seems immune. Why is this?

    DR: This is a question for much smarter people than myself. What I can say is that the way we consume is changing on all platforms. People view less TV on TV, true. But web and streaming are soaring. For radio, people still drive their cars, and still tune in. But there is a future ahead of which no one can be sure. Think podcasts and phone streaming and something yet to be invented.

    I think the more important question regarding the issue of TV and radio is what makes them different, especially in the news world. The answer is the reason I work for public radio. There is more freedom to do the stories that would not usually make the cut on TV network news. The strange, quirky segments. Public radio lives in a world between documentaries and network news. It covers what’s breaking, but it does not ignore the slower paced and personal stories. On top of that, the lack of visuals requires imagination on the part of the listener. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. For me, it’s a good thing.

    EY: What can potential spokespeople do to be more comfortable when they conduct a radio interview? (See my blog post on interview prep for more tips as well.)

    DR: As Allen Iverson said, “Practice.” Practice for the hard questions. Practice for the easy questions. And after all the practice, remember that it’s a conversation, not a Q&A. A guest can be prepared for anything, but being prepared is not the same as preparing a statement. Good radio comes from real conversation. It is organic and the best parts are never predetermined. The more open the potential guest is to real conversation,  the better they will be.

    H&N believes in respecting its guests and its listeners. We do not believe in “gotcha” questions, but we will not ignore criticism.  I press this because a lot of times, people are hoping for the softball interview – or worse, they are expecting it. What is often ignored is that softball interviews are condemned by news consumers. Anything in that interview is automatically rejected as false, even if it’s true.  So getting the hard question may actually be a good thing. It just depends on how it’s handled.

    EY: Who is the best interview you have had on Here & Now and why?

    DR: I’m going to have to disappoint and offer no answer here. We are talking thousands of people, stretching back years before I came aboard. The best interviews are the truest. The ones that make you say, ‘Yes! That person gets it!’

    EY: Anything I should ask that I haven’t?

    DR: There’s a particular skill to making a pitch. Typically we are all bogged down with deadlines that we can be blunt. I urge anyone making a pitch not to take offense. If you have a good story, keep trying. But you have to believe it is a good story. And be clear about what you are offering. Is the person a good talker? Are they clear? Are they interesting? Do they speak like they are speaking to regular people? Or do they sound like they’re reading corporate bullet points? In the end it comes down to knowing what sounds good, what feels human and what is accurate and fair.

     

     

    A Conversation With CNBC's Kerima Greene

    Friday, August 7, 2015, 10:13 AM [General]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    What does it take to get your brand, story or exec on TV? Is it magic, luck, or actual hard work and does it have to be tied to a big trend or news of the day? As a former television reporter and someone that has also been on the other side of the camera since 2000, I would answer by saying: if you want to be on broadcast, you have to be able to comment on a larger trend, provide expert commentary and add credibility and weight to a bigger story. But I decided to ask an actual producer and booker for CNBC and someone I have enjoyed working with for the past 15 years — Kerima Greene, Senior Talent & News Producer for CNBC “Power Lunch” – with whom I recently caught up and who kindly answered my questions below.

    Before we dig in, here’s a quick primer on “Power Lunch”: It’s is a live, two-hour program (running M-F, 1PM-3PM ET) anchored by Tyler Mathisen, Mandy Drury and Brian Sullivan from CNBC’s Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, with Melissa Lee providing daily contributions from the NASDAQ MarketSite studio. The show focuses on the big, market-moving stories of the day with coverage from CNBC’s Post 9 position on the NYSE floor and from bureaus around the world. It showcases the best stories of the day from CNBC’s roster of top-notch digital and television journalists. Jason Gewirtz is the executive producer.

    EY: What do you look for in a good pitch when deciding to do a story for “Power Lunch?”

    KG: Breaking news has – and continues to be a hallmark of CNBC’s real-time coverage. Our stories should serve this purpose. Same for guests. We seek and deliver the leading authority and most credible voices for all our coverage. We strive to be timely, newsworthy and actionable. We hope to inform, enrich, occasionally entertain, and more than a few times made a difference for our viewing audience and investors who have skin in the game. Our goal is candid interviews, transparent, market-moving information, unparalleled all-star lineups generating must-see news-making, impactful content throughout the network.

    EY: Are you interested in startups or just established companies?

    KG: Public traded companies first and foremost. Startups or private companies if they are proven industry disruptors.

    EY: Describe your day as a producer – maybe a day in the life of your job?

    KG: We begin with two morning editorial meetings, one network wide where we find out what the reporters and shows are planning. A second show editorial meeting follows to focus our two-hour program among the “Power Lunch” team.

    We mingle meticulous planning with fast-moving flexibility to deliver the news as it unfolds, from research, graphics, writing and lineup selection and pre-interviews. There are many phone calls to be made, correspondence sent and much collaboration between anchors and our Executive Producer so the message on-air is tight, efficient and cohesive. In addition to producing live television, we also write for the show’s website platform, cnbc.com and powerlunch.cnbc.com.

    So we are truly a multi-media informational platform for an engaged audience. Then we wake up and do it again. Each day is new and exciting!

    EY: How has the show and your job changed through the years?

    KG: It’s been an amazing run. I have had the privilege of watching CNBC grow from a broadcast startup in the late 1990s to a global household name, yet all the while retaining the nimble qualities of a startup. The smartest people are always in the room, both in front of the camera and behind and on the Web. We have the honor – and it is an honor – to interact with the world’s most powerful and influential people and be an eye-witness to history. Case in point: the financial crisis and September 11th are two hallmarks for CNBC where my co-workers all rose to the occasion again and again, broadcasting in the throes of disaster and communicating the news as it unfolded, second by second, minute by minute, sometimes 24/7 without letting up, and providing valuable information for the viewers. During the war, I recall specifically a photo of the War Room of the Pentagon, and the TVs on the bank of walls were tuned to CNBC, and our President and Defense Secretary and leaders were all monitoring the price of oil and our coverage on the markets from their seats. It was humbling and insightful. The world relies on our coverage. That responsibility has never been forgotten. Throughout our growth and prominence, we are still family at CNBC and that is the most important quality of all.

    Certain things are always the same; journalism has an immovable code of ethics, Comcast the same. And the added financial transparency for CNBC offers even a deeper layer of trust with our viewers.

    One thing that has been especially exciting is the digital content and technology that we use on a daily basis, and that we’ve had to learn to keep current, fresh and ahead of the curve. It has been an honor, too, to watch Silicon Valley’s incredible growth, the products and services that literally blow your mind, never seem to let up and that’s been a thrill to watch unfold.

    EY: What do you need out of PR? Do you actually look to PR for story ideas? What qualities does a good PR person have in your opinion?

    KG: Newsworthy ideas and pitches, communicated efficiently and eloquently. If you can’t describe your pitch efficiently and eloquently in a finite period of time or space, go back to square one and polish it up before you pitch us.

    Pitching Resolutions: What Reporters Want in 2015

    Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:24 AM [General]
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    I recently had a chance to sit down with reporters from ABC, Bloomberg, Forbes, Fox and TIME, and they were kind enough to share with me what they want from PR professionals in the New Year. Bottom line: The days of smiling and dialing are long gone. Relationships do matter, as does taking time to figure out what stories the reporter may find interesting, understanding their beats and tailoring pitches, as obvious as that sounds. Here's how a few top tier reporters put it – in their own words:

    Richard Davies, ABC News Radio business correspondent, had this to share:

    ·       Keep it brief: My time is valuable, and my attention span is short!

    ·       Sharpen up your writing skills. Put your best idea in the first sentence of your pitch.

    ·       Never on Thursday: It’s very often the busiest day of the week for news events. Try pitching stories on Friday afternoon or Monday morning.

    ·       In-person may beat online. Try to do some of your business face-to-face, not always on the phone or via email.

    Forbes and Inc. contributor Peter Cohan shared this wish for 2015:

    “I want PR people to introduce me to clients who can help me write about my favorite topics – for Inc.: surprising tips for achieving startup success and for Forbes: startups that are taking customers from publicly traded companies.” 

    James Rogers, Fox News science and technology editor, encourages people to be extra cognizant that he is talking to several spokespeople a day and producing stories at a rapid pace. Most importantly, he encourages people to really take the time to determine what stories he is likely to cover.

    A technology reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek said the best pitches connect companies to something bigger than them. Reporters are more likely to write about something that they can put their own stamp on, rather than just taking an announcement and working very narrowly. Many PR people seem to realize this, but fail by going much too broad. As a tech reporter, there’s nothing I can do with the trend of “increasing interest in mobile” or “bringing your device to work.” So, as wide as you can go while remaining specific. Also, if you’re going to connect a pitch to someone’s past work, you have to be right about what someone covers. I’d rather have no attempt at a personal tie-in than one that comes off phony.

    Jason Sanchez, TIME and Money video producer, also wants PR professionals to take the time to get to know his coverage areas and let him get to know company executives without the pressure of having it lead to automatic coverage. “I don’t want the pressure of taking the interview to then have you and your client think that automatically means a piece in the next week, month or even three months. Have the patience and flexibility to see that maybe it isn’t going to be an immediate story, but there’s potential for it down the road.”

    So before you raise a glass and sing “Auld Lang Syne,” take some time to think about upping your media pitching game in 2015. Happy New Year, and happy pitching!

    Top Five Reasons In-person Relationship Building Meetings Still Count

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 4:27 PM [General]
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    Your client wants an in-person meeting in NYC next month with a business reporter covering their industry and pressure is on to book it. There is no breaking news or hard news associated with the meeting. There are some pretty good reasons we don’t do as many in-person meetings these days: reporters are just too busy and charged with writing too many stories a day to take 45 minutes to an hour out of their day and meet when they could do a phone interview and be done with the interview in 20 minutes.

     

    Although not as common and easy to book these days, there is still a real value in establishing a relationship with a reporter and making a connection in person. I recently sat down with ABC News business reporter Richard Davies and got his take on why coffee meetings still matter and how to make these meetings more effective.

     

    1 –Have something interesting to bring to the table: You need to have something compelling to say during the meeting. Davies recounts a story of how he recently met with an executive from a large automotive company, and the meeting lacked substance as the spokesperson didn’t have anything new to say about the industry and couldn’t discuss any big picture trends. This is a lost opportunity and a waste of time for everyone involved.

     

    2-Quality vs. quantity: “I didn’t get into journalism to crank out stories as quickly as possible. I got into this industry to write quality pieces,” Davies stated. “If I can have a meaningful conversation with a person for one hour that can eventually lead to a story down the line, this is extremely valuable to me.”

     

    3-In-person meetings spark excitement and ideas:  Davies explains that he gets 20 pitches by email a day and that doesn’t include story suggestions from his news team or phone calls. If he can have a meeting with an interesting person who is quotable, helpful and an expert in their industry, this naturally benefits him. “No question that sitting across the table from a person is going to foster more creativity and conversation.”

     

    4-PR people need to get it too: Davies says a pet peeve is when PR people don’t play by the rules and just expect him to meet with their client when they haven’t properly researched his work and do not have a refreshing news hook or trend to discuss. He says that it is refreshing indeed to hear from a PR person who has done his or her homework and is comfortable talking to him on the phone about why the meeting would be beneficial.

     

    5-Be patient: By building a relationship and establishing credibility as a spokesperson, you are going a long way toward eventually seeing a story placement. It may take months, but if the meeting was productive, coverage will eventually happen.

     

    So next time a face-to-face meeting is on the table, don’t sweat it and pick up the phone and pitch a trend, not a product or service. Make sure you are quotable in person and remember that the purpose of the meeting is not coverage today, but building a relationship over time that will eventually lead to ink.

     

     

     

     

    Ten Ways To Get Out Of A Pitching Rut

    Friday, March 28, 2014, 1:53 PM [General]
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    It’s happened to all of us… You have a fantastic and unique story idea, and you are working like mad to get a reporter interested. Not just any  reporter-no smiling and dialing here…You already have done your homework and have a select few in mind who write about the very topic you are pitching and they are not biting. We know you haven’t committed any of these pitching sins that former reporter Lisa van der Pool warned us about in a previous InkHouse post.

    So what to do when you have done your media relations 101 due diligence and there is no action-like not even a little. I have an expression for this: NR which means No Reaction. So how do you turn NR to AR: Appropriate Reaction?

    Before you end up doubting yourself, feeling downright rejected and singing the pitching blues , and letting your client down, what are some ways to get out of such a rut?

    1. Take a hard and close look: Can you shorten it, make it more appealing by taking out text and adding a visual asset if available? Can you lead with a trend instead of the product news? Is there a higher level message that seems to come in at the third sentence instead of the first?
    2. Turn to a friend: Have someone you trust take a look at it after you change it: Talking to a colleague (whether a present or former colleague) when we are in the deepest of pitching ruts helps immensely. Fresh eyes can help detect any red flags, or even  help us by suggesting minor tweaks.
    3. Talk to the client: Often we are too proud or worried to admit we are not getting somewhere with a pitch. But sometimes coming clean to the client and suggesting some ideas that you can collaborate on to improve it can work magic. Make sure you have some ideas to improve the approach before talking to the client.
    4. Pick up the phone: Before emailing your pitch, can you call a reporter up? Before you think” oh Liz  that is so 2003,”think again.  It seems we are so used to emailing first, and then calling to follow up. What if you picked up the phone first and had an actual conversation with a reporter without sending it first. They wouldn’t feel annoyed because you aren’t calling to follow up. Of course, it has to be someone who is applicable and not a random reporter but actually calling someone BEFORE emailing can work wonders. And give you great feedback as to why the pitch may not be resonating.
    5. Don’t fear the media: If we believe strongly in our story idea, we should be confident enough to have a call with the reporter.
    6. Don’t be a stalker: If you have called and they aren’t interested move on.
    7. Take a walk: A quick change of atmosphere can refresh your thinking. What is the definition of insanity: repeating the same thing over and over again right? So don’t do this! Get moving and see if this inspires any new thinking.
    8. Find a new friend: There are always fresh targets (as long as they are relevant) to find and there is always  someone who seems to be perfect for your story idea so don’t give up.
    9. Ask them out: If you have a good relationship with a reporter and they have turned this particular story down, maybe you could ask them to meet in person and talk about what things are interesting them of late.
    10. Don’t beat yourself up: At the end of the day, it is important to have perspective and maintain your self esteem. Sometimes the best pitching outcomes come out of the times when we feel the most tested.

    So before you feel like Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, buck up! You can turn this around…And you will.

    Learning to Love Media Training

    Thursday, May 3, 2012, 1:59 PM [General]
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    Learning To Love Media Training

    This has probably happened to all of us at some point in our PR careers: we’ve worked hard to develop messaging and positioning with our client or internal spokesperson, prepared the press release, developed unique story angles and pitches, gone through revisions and feedback sessions, and finally pitched the story. And, voila! We landed some interviews.  But when the spokesperson starts telling the story, your jaw drops because they are telling it in a way you’ve never heard before. Why? Maybe it’s because we forgot to carve out time in the lead up or simply ran out of time to do some basic media training. Even here, we are guilty of occasionally lining up that last minute interview without always thinking through prep.

    Sadly, the time we take to prepare for the interviews can leave most of us feeling that we’ve spent too much time on the initial phase and not enough on coaching the client or internal spokesperson for the ultimate payoff – the interview.

     

    And shouldn’t the media training be the cornerstone of this activity?

     

    Often, a spokesperson may not be entirely comfortable doing media interviews, or may just be new to the process. So, while all the initial steps -preparing a detailed briefing document, outlining the opportunity and noting potential questions, suggesting talking points – are critical, what’s equally critical is allocating the time to prep the spokesperson.

     

    Many times during my career in PR and as a media trainer, I have asked myself if I have spent enough time prepping the spokesperson for the interview. So much more time seems to be spent developing messaging and other core materials, that when it comes to prepping the spokesperson, we may think our job is done after we deliver the briefing document, hoping that he or she reads it and that somehow will be enough.

     

    As PR professionals, we need to make certain that media training is happening on a daily basis, and not regarded as some feared annual mandatory workshop.

    Here are some tips and tricks to make sure we are helping prepare spokespeople in their day to day lives vs. coaching them annually for the Armageddon of media interview scenarios such as Scott Pelley from 60 Minutes showing up at their door step unannounced:

     

    1-WALK THE WALK, TALK THE TALK

    If time doesn’t allow for formal media training after messaging is solidified and prior to the media interviews, at least set up a mock interview with the spokesperson in person or by phone. During this session, go over the basics—explain whom they are meeting with and why, and actually pose some potential questions to help with suggested responses.

     

     

    2-ANSWER THE ‘SO WHAT?’ AND GET YOUR PARTY PITCH READY

     

    A favorite media question, either asked or implied, is ‘Why should I care’ or ‘So what.’ Be prepared!  And, encourage the client or internal spokesperson to practice their elevator pitch or “party pitch” as I like to call it-whether at home and with friends. If they have an upcoming barbeque or a family party, encourage them to be thinking about compelling ways to talk about their company’s story in an everyday setting so that someone outside of their field would find it interesting. If you get feedback that above training in real-life scenario results in guests making a bee line for the bar to escape said budding spokesperson, offer to help your spokesperson fine tune that party pitch.

     

    3-HAVE AN IDOL

     

    Encourage your client or in house expert to find a spokesperson they admire, and ask them to identify what it is that makes this person charismatic and effective at telling their story. Is there something they can emulate from this person while still being genuine? Or are there particular styles they would rather avoid? This political season is ripe with good and bad examples of effective interview styles. Check out Beth’s post about which candidates handled tough questions the best during the GOP debates last fall.

     

    4-PUT PEN TO PAPER

     

    Encourage the spokesperson to write down three points or ‘must says’ they want to get across before each interview, and prepare two sound bites they want to deliver, even if the interview doesn’t go as planned or goes off track. This allows the spokesperson to remain in control of the interview as much as possible and to have something concrete to go back to.

     

    5-REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT

     

    Like many things in life, practice makes perfect. Encourage your spokesperson to think about potential questions and answers developed during the mock interview session and review them out loud, preferably in front of an actual person who is patient and kind enough to act as a live audience. Who knows-your spokesperson could use blocking and bridging techniques in their personal life too. (Husband: Why is the house such a mess and are we really doing take-out again? Wife: What I can tell you is that the children have been extremely happy and active, playing and frolicking about)

     

    Let’s face it; after all is said and done, one of the most important functions of PR is to generate positive, accurate and hopefully memorable coverage for our clients and the companies we represent as in-house PR professionals.  By encouraging media training in the day to day, we may find we are helping develop more prepared, confident spokespeople who can  truly become ‘go to’ sources for influential news media.

     


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