COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros – Episode 4: What Are Brands Doing?

How are brands getting their stories on television? Does the media interest voiced in surveys match their actual interest when it comes to scheduling interviews with actual spokespeople? How is technology helping to put brand stories on television?

We address those questions in this issue of COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros. We put the “media interest” question to the test in one day of pitching a lifestyle story on creating relaxing spaces in your home to help you relax. The result? 23 earned media interviews were booked in one day of pitching. This “new normal” far outstrips what expected results would have been before the crisis.

 

The demand is there, but how are media tours handled with limits on travel and shelter in place requirements?

Here’s how they work: From anywhere in the world, and from the comfort and safety of their own homes, spokespeople are able to connect with our control room via Skype, Zoom or WebEx and are then connected via satellite to TV stations around the country. Clients are able to tune in via a web stream to provide feedback and engage in the process.

Finally, when brands don’t have a spokesperson available or the budget to own their own story, we are seeing an increased interest in partnering with lifestyle, technology, and wellness experts who share how products and services are helping to make lives easier during this difficult time.

COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros – Episode 3: Radio Survey Results

In the third edition of COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros we share the first results of our radio survey. 25 radio stations responded.
 

According to Nielsen, radio audiences are increasing substantially as more people work from home.
92% of the stations were interested in a coronavirus related story.
88% of the stations were interested in interviewing a brand expert in a general story unrelated to the virus.

Radio is the fastest and lowest cost way to reach millions of people. It’s convenient as the spokesperson and communications team never have to leave home. It’s also crucial to include radio because employees listen to radio and you can easily target specific markets while you are creating your crisis communications plan.

COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros – Episode 2: TV Survey Results

In this edition of COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros we share the first results of our TV station local news survey. 52 stations responded.
 

87% of stations said they would take a story related to the virus from brands or non-profits.
77% would take a health story not related to the virus.
75% would be open to a story on a general topic.

 
Station demand is there for interviews with brand spokespeople and they want the interviews via satellite. Technology is helping brands adapt as spokespeople can Skype in to our control room and be connected with stations across the country limiting unnecessary human contact.

Welcome to the COVID-19 Media Guide for PR Pros

Given the enormous economic uncertainty and the need for brands and non-profits to continue to communicate with the public, we’ve started this guide as a way for you to keep track of what the broadcast media is open to covering.
 
There are two-parts to this equation. First, what are local news outlets open to covering. We’ll be surveying them on a weekly basis and reporting the results back to you. The second aspect needs to be judged on a case by case basis. Simply, is the message you are trying to convey appropriate during this pandemic and will it benefit your organization and the public in general. Clearly, hard sell messages don’t make a lot of sense right now and you need to be educational in tone or communicating how you are making things easier for customers and importantly, your own employees.
 
We welcome your feedback as well as what you are hearing during your media communication.

PR Industry Survey: Is the Satellite Media Tour Comeback Real?

After finding out that there was a 21 percent increase in use of satellite media tours and a 38 percent increase in using in-house spokespeople by both brands and the agencies, we conducted a survey to find out if these trends were unique to D S Simon Media or industry wide.

 

Here is what 70 PR professionals (brand and agency communicators) had to say:

 

Nearly 1/3 are increasing or considering increasing their use of SMTs. Close to 90 percent are either increasing their consideration of SMTs or staying the same. Those findings align with the growth that we have been seeing. In terms of featuring in-house spokespeople in satellite media tours, the industry is evenly split. Whether they are increasing or decreasing featuring in-house spokespeople in their satellite media tours, both of those numbers are 23 percent.

 

The most important finding is that the satellite media tour comeback seems to be real and sustainable.

 

 

Kate Huyett, CMO at Bombas on the Rapid Rise of the DTC Sock Brand

Kate Huyett tells D S Simon Media CEO, Doug Simon, the story of Bombas, the brand that boasts in making “the most comfortable socks in the history of feet.” She touches on the charity mission of the DTC brand, and its importance to the company’s appeal. Kate also discusses the rising importance of television in building your brand’s message authentically.

 

Follow Bombas:

Stephen Kuhl, Co-founder and CEO at Burrow on Launching a Successful DTC Brand

Stephen Kuhl tells D S Simon Media CEO, Doug Simon, what inspired him and his co-founder, Kabeer Chopra, to start Burrow, a DTC furniture company. He also expands on the marketing and communications techniques that are key to the brand’s success, including the importance of using storytelling to enhance the company’s message and make it more personal.

 

Follow Burrow:

Satellite Media Tours Are Making a Comeback

Satellite media tours are making a comeback with a 21% increase on SMT spending in 2019. The reasons? While it’s harder than ever to get your story on cable or network news, our brand visibility report showed that there’s a greater opportunity to get your experts and spokespeople on local news. The average local TV news station will spend less than 25% of its newscasts on politics in 2020. A second reason, a 38% increase in use of internal spokespeople in satellite media tours as brands and non-profits look to get their leaders on television

Learn more about satellite media tours here.

 

Learn How to Choose the Right Spokesperson For Your Brand



Communication executives from leading brands, like Macy’s and Danone North America, discussed how to effectively use your brand spokespeople and shared tips on how to train internal experts and prepare for interviews.

Learn how to get your story on the news here.

Watch the full discussion here.

 

MODERATOR: 

Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media

PANELISTS: 

Orlando Veras, Director of National Media Relations, Macy’s, Inc.

Michael Neuwirth, Senior Director, External Communications, Danone North America

Jeanne M. Salvatore, President, JMS Consulting and Former Chief Communications Officer of the Insurance Information Institute

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Doug Simon: How do you work with in-house spokespeople in past sometimes when they’re yourself?

Michael Neuwirth: One of the character traits that I look for in a good internal spokesperson is their ego. How important do they express themselves to be.

Doug Simon: So, is a big ego better or worse?

Michael Neuwirth: Big ego is a bad thing because you’re putting the cart before the horse. Yeah and we’ve got it we’ve got to drive home an understanding of why we’re doing this for the broader for the better for the bigger good if you will whether it’s to promote a brand or a company or program. It’s not about the person delivering the message. And so, avoiding that painful pitfall is really a character assessment that’s then. Then I’ll get to a skills assessment. So, I look for humility and someone who’s fundamentally in service to the brand the project the company overall.

Orlando Veras: First of all, we always try to find an internal spokesperson for any area of business that we cover. I think it’s really more important to have that authenticity of someone who does the workday to day but in sometimes with a scale of some of the elements and products that we have. You know that person still has to do their day to day job and so in some cases we have to step in and serve as that spokesperson as well. So, for us we just need to be kind of jack of all trades to be able to know as much as we can about different areas of business so that we’re able to speak intelligently about those problems.

Jeanne Salvatore: I just want to add that frequently subject matter experts build relationships with journalists and those journalists just feel more comfortable interviewing that person they know they’ve worked with them they know what they’re going to get especially with broadcast. So, and we would encourage that those relationships were very important.

Michael Neuwirth: One area I would add is that look in the dark corners for your internals experts the people who are not running to the front of the line raising their hands saying I want to be on camera I want my mom to see this. And you know that’s important because they will likely have the expertise, they are likely coachable as we all are, and their humility can become a huge strength for harnessing in the business.

Doug Simon: With that let’s move on to the preparation section. So, we’re talking about working with our in-house experts. How do you pick the right talent?

Orlando Veras: Yeah it starts, you know you do some interviews you do some internal interviews obviously you find out the kind of the area of business Who owns it and who may be in that realm. And then you just do some quick interviews to kind of get gauge their personality the you know how familiar are with the content. And then once you’ve decided that you know you may have one or two of these folks, we generally do an extensive media training to really go through every scenario possible. You know whether that person is never ever going to be on television because of the area of business that they have is just doesn’t lend itself to broadcast but we. That’s how we train them because like that’s the hardest thing to do.

Michael Neuwirth: It’s a practice it’s simulation simulation simulation and at different levels of difficult at different difficulty levels and we escalate until we realize that that person is a green and they’re ready to go. But before then we’re not going to let him out of the gate.

Jeanne Salvatore: You know somebody who does interviews a lot becomes oh this is easy. And that’s when problems start that’s when you say things that are off key. You become too comfortable with the journalist. So, you know I would always recommend that you have. It’s like you start fresh almost that you prepare for each interview as if you’ve never done one before.

 

Learn How to Get Your Story on the News



Communicators from leading brands, such as Macy’s and Danone North America, discussed how they earn more media coverage on broadcast outlets nationwide and shared tips on how to manage media coverage during the upcoming election year.

Learn how to choose the right spokesperson for your brand here.

Watch the full discussion here.

 

MODERATOR: 

Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media

PANELISTS: 

Orlando Veras, Director of National Media Relations, Macy’s, Inc.

Michael Neuwirth, Senior Director, External Communications, Danone North America

Jeanne M. Salvatore, President, JMS Consulting and Former Chief Communications Officer of the Insurance Information Institute

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Doug Simon: So how do you figure out and craft what stories you’re going to get out there?

Jeanne Salvatore: If you seize on areas that people don’t understand. So, if there are problems consumer problems and then you have a solution to that that’s very effective way of making news.

Michael Neuwirth: Journalists are always looking for what’s new and so a big established brand. Yes, they might be interested in what’s next for that brand, but they’re also really interested at least in the food space in what’s new and why is that new. What’s interesting. What are you creating that’s not there.

Orlando Veras: Part of the process as I’ve noticed especially with the proliferation of the media online is that there has to be video content that goes with it. There has to be a visual that goes with it. And so sometimes that might drive the pickup. And so, you might want to be able to tell the story first. That way in a visual medium that will then spur the added attention because if it gets cleverly posted on one publication and that’s what your target is then some other people will look at it and that’s how you can then build from it.

Doug Simon: There’s an election next year. You may have heard. So, it seems like that’s causing challenges to get on national TV to get on the cable networks because they’re wall to wall political coverage. We’ve got some stats on that which I’ll share in a moment. How do you navigate that?

Michael Neuwirth: It’s a reality and it’s an every four year reality so it’s not our first time at the rodeo at this table. But you’re absolutely right. It means that we probably we do have to turn our attention to places where we can get our stories told. And if one of the goals is to avoid the election cycle then that is a big limitation. But on the flip side it’s a huge opportunity if you are advocating for an issue.

Doug Simon: We asked local stations how much of their newscast they were going to devote to politics during 2020 and the difference between what we analyzed on the network side versus local was huge. Two thirds of local stations said they’re going to cover spending less than 25 percent of their time on politics. So just to make sure it’s right we checked after one of the recent Democratic debates and found local stations and top five markets spent only five and a half percent of their newscast on politics, when networks are spending thirty eight percent and it’s sort of logical when you think about it because if you’re a political junkie you’re not going to be watching. Good Morning Cincinnati or good morning whatever show because you’re going to watch the cable network aligning with your interests. So how important is going local and going to these local markets where there is significant opportunity?

Jeanne Salvatore: Well I think going local always makes sense because it does allow you to tailor your message very specifically to your audience in a way that you can’t do nationally so it should always be very important. And if it’s a really good interview there’s always the possibility that it could go national. If you’re providing something really interesting.

Orlando Veras: There’s opportunities. I think everyone thinks of primetime news as the thing you want to be on. But in some cases, the story that you have to tell might work best in a noon newscast. Where there’s less of that kind of hard news and more opportunity to do kind of a more lifestyle things. If that’s if that’s your area.