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CEO Thought Leadership Series from Trade Show

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SPOKEies™ University with Natan Edelsburg

Natan Edelsburg, Executive Vice President of Muck Rack, sat down with D S Simon Media CEO and Founder of The SPOKEies™, Doug Simon to talk about Muck Rack‘s new journalist survey and the 10th annual Shorty Awards. They also discussed the release D S Simon Media‘s upcoming Guide to Brand Authenticity: Journalist Survey 2017 and some of its’ surprising results.

Key Quotes: 

“When we ask journalists what the number one thing is that they reject a pitch for, besides the fact that it’s irrelevant, it is all about personalization.” – Natan Edelsburg

“Who do journalists want to talk to? In-house spokespeople? Or third-party expert? Overwhelmingly, more than 86% of them, preferred to actually interview the in-house spokesperson, compared with the third-party expert.” – Doug Simon



DOUG SIMON: Welcome to D S Simon Media Studios. I’m Doug Simon, CEO. My guest, Natan Edelsburg. He’s Executive Vice President at Muck Rack. Thanks for being with us.

NATAN EDELSBURG: Thanks so much for having me. Really beautiful studio.

DOUG SIMON: Thank you. You’ve just completed a journalist’s survey and had some key findings. Can you share a couple? What were sort of the top line takeaways?

NATAN EDELSBURG: Sure, yeah. So Muck Rack is a platform for both journalists and public relations professionals. And what we do each year is we ask the journalism community what their preferences are, specifically around how they like to be pitched and how they’re using social media. So on the lighter side, we found out that most journalists do not like an emojis in a pitch. They find it too cutesy and unnecessary, so–

DOUG SIMON: So I’ll make a sad face on that one now. OK.

NATAN EDELSBURG: So unless you’re an emoji company, or the emoji board out on the west coast, maybe don’t use emojis. On a more serious note, I think that, when we ask journalists what the number one thing is that they reject a pitch for, besides the fact that it’s irrelevant, it is all about personalization.

I think this isn’t necessarily something new, but it’s something important to hear, because with so many options today for how they can receive pitches, who can send them pitches, it’s super important to customize your pitch, when it comes to the locality, to what they cover, and to really reference why you think it’s something good for them. So those are two highlights.

But I know you guys also recently did a journalist survey, too, that we’ve been super interested in. I’d love to hear what you think of the findings, how they maybe compare or contrast at all.

DOUG SIMON: Sure. And a lot of what we talked about is an alignment. And a big piece for us was looking at what makes a brand and organization more authentic. And what generates more earn media, and clearly that’s what you’re about as well. One of the key measurements was, who do journalists want to talk to? In-house spokespeople? Or third-party expert? Overwhelmingly, more than 86% of them, preferred to actually interview the in-house spokesperson, compared with the third-party expert.

When it came to authenticity, 74% feel that making your CEO accessible to the media makes a brand seem more authentic. And that worked for both brand communications and nonprofit communications. In fact, nonprofit side, 90% of them found third-party spokespeople least authentic.

NATAN EDELSBURG: Wow. Yeah, and it makes a lot of sense. It’s so easy for a CEO and a leader at a company to be directly in touch with the media, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t choose the best person. But yeah. It makes sense that journalists want to hear from them.

DOUG SIMON: Yeah. Now, you’ve been a driver in the industry, with awards programs, creating the Shorty Awards. How does that work? What do people need to know about them? By now it’s become the major thing. You had one of the cast members of Veep as your host last time. Very cute video opening for that.

NATAN EDELSBURG: Thanks. Yeah, we did. Tony Hale hosted the Shorty, the ninth annual Shorty Awards, which happened in April. We actually built Muck Rack out of all the press success we had for the Shorties. We, kind of, didn’t realize we were going to get all this press for it, and it led us to think about how the way journalists are finding out about things is changing.

With the Shorty Awards, as we gear up for our 10th annual year– social media is now 10 years old– I think the big thing that we’ve realized over the years is that you never know what’s going to happen in the future. Our founders were smart in not calling it the Twitter Awards, even though Twitter was a huge part of it, and still continues to be.

But now that we honor the best users and brands on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Musical.ly, and YouNow, it’s really important to us to constantly be looking at all short form content, which is why we call it the Shorty Awards. So who knows what platform we’ll be talking about this year?

DOUG SIMON: Yeah, I got a kick out of Tony mentioning it was the last time for Vine–


NATAN EDELSBURG: Yeah, and we were the first ones to do a Vine Award. And we were the first ones to end their Vine Award when it became apparent that Vine was no longer going to continue. But we got to see the Vine creator community continue to flourish in other ways. And also you guys are launching an award as well, I hear, right?

DOUG SIMON: Yeah it’s called the SPOKEies. And it really ties in the findings from media. The value of turning your in-house leaders and experts into influencers by getting them out there in the media. So who’s doing it best? It’s really a great opportunity for brands and nonprofits to promote their own experts who’ve been out there, who have been trustworthy, authentic, and effective at delivering messages.

But I think the real prime value is going to be for the public relations agencies that work with them. It’s hard for them to always get noticed. Get recognition. It’s a very inexpensive opportunity to apply and get that recognition as having helped create one of your clients’ leaders as an effective spokesperson-influencer out in the community.

NATAN EDELSBURG: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And with the influencer evolving so much, and becoming all-inclusive, I think spokespeople need to realize they are influencers as well. It’s not just these Instagramers with millions of followers. It’s the leadership within the companies, and the people who actually have a voice for it, that journalists and beyond hear.

DOUG SIMON: Yeah, and numerous companies who had, quote, “better product,” failed compared to the others, because the others had leaders that were more influential in the marketplace. Going back to Betamax versus VHS, there’s case, after case, after case, where that’s happened. So let’s give recognition to the agencies and the people who are helping to drive growth at their organization by being an effective spokesperson. Thanks so much for being with us. Great stuff.

NATAN EDELSBURG: Thank you for having me. Really looking forward to it.