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Advice from the Media | Deroy Murdock

Name: Deroy Murdock Title: Nationally syndicated columnist Media Outlet: Scripps Howard News Service Twitter Handle: Real men don't Tweet! Personal Blog: I do not blog. I write articles. 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Woke up. Got out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head. Spent day worrying about the world and thinking up solutions to its problems. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? When Stefan Gleason was spokesman for the National Right to Work Committee, he always could get me to write about Big Labor bosses by giving me examples of union violence. He would mention someone who got his tires slashed or face rearranged by some union thugs. Like tossing a Frisbee before a Labrador, I immediately would run in whatever direction Gleason wanted. To mix metaphors, Gleason knew how to push this button, and he did it perfectly and repeatedly. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? I once asked Scripps Howard's Jay Ambrose how to handle some situation. He said, "Well, Deroy, as long as we're trying to do the right thing." I always thought that was a worthy and achievable standard that also recognized that we journalists are neither perfect nor saintly. 4) If there were one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? Take care of the small things, and the big ones fall into place. If you have an event in New York City, for God's sake, include the cross street in the address. Where on Earth is 350 Fifth Avenue? I have NO idea. Ah. It's at West 34th Street. Thank you for sparing me from having to look that up, which just make me grind my molars. Don't just tell me that an event is on December 10. Tell me it's on Monday, December 10. I may know right away that Mondays are always bad for me. So, I quickly can decline an invitation, without having to stop, grab my calendar, leaf through it, and finally learn that this is on a Monday. Then, in a fit of frustration at the publicist's inexactitude, I must send my regrets, while also grinding my molars into mandibular dust. Also, don't call us commentators "reporters." We all are journalists. But commentators are not reporters, any more than surgeons are dermatologists, although they all are doctors. Yes, refer broadly to all of us as journalists. But some of us specifically are commentators. Some are reporters. You also have editors, producers, bookers, and others. Calling us all reporters is inaccurate, irritating, and indicative of a lack of sophistication among those who make this annoying mistake.

Advice from the Media | Josh Gohlke

Name: Josh Gohlke
Title: Op-Ed Editor
Media Outlet: Philadelphia Inquirer
Twitter Handle: @JoshGohlke
Website: www.philly.com/philly/opinion

1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less.
Respond to e-mails. Budget pages. Respond to e-mails. Edit copy. Respond to e-mails wondering why I haven’t been more responsive. Repeat!

2) What’s the best pitch you’ve ever received?
I’m lucky to have so much commentary to choose from, but sheer math forces me to decline (politely, I hope) most of the submissions I get, including some perfectly good ones. So I think my sentimental favorites are from the people who become enraged when I say no, demand explanations, urge me to reconsider, and, best of all, tell me something like, “Well, I think it’s really good!” I have yet to meet someone who agrees that I should not publish his submission.

3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you?
My best editor in college told me to remember the acronym “KISS: Keep it simple — smart!” He was being nice; it really stands for “Keep it simple, stupid!” Most good editing comes down to this admonition.

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch famously put it another way: “Murder your darlings.” That is, if you’re madly in love with the beauty or wit of a passage you wrote, you should probably delete it.

4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be?
Many PR people are very conscientious about the submissions they handle. But others seem to be acting as mere conduits for whatever their clients give them — and then blaming editors for failing to publish it. I think many clients could be done an immense service by a representative who edits them or encourages them to rewrite, and who is honest about what is and isn’t likely to be published and why.

PR Tips | Social Media Drives the News

Can you run an effective PR campaign today without a social media component? A quick look at the numbers suggests that the answer is “no.”

Roughly 25% of all Americans now have a Twitter account. Facebook has more than a billion users -- and about half of all Americans have accounts. Meanwhile, 82 million American consumers are constantly connected to the social media pulse, accessing their social profiles from their phones.

It used to be that people took blogs less seriously than traditional news reporting. But that’s changing. Sixty-five percent of people now find the information they see posted online trustworthy, according to ING's new Impact of social media 2012.

Look at any recent news event -- from the election to Superstorm Sandy to the Patraeus scandal. It’s obvious that social media is driving the news and shaping public opinion.

Profiles in PR | Tara Curtis

Your Name: Tara Curtis
Your Position: Director, Communications
Your Business: West Virginia University Alumni Association
Company Website: alumni.wvu.edu
Twitter: @WVUAlumniAssoc (business) @WVUGal93 (personal)

Services You Offer:
The WVU Alumni Association represents West Virginia University's largest constituency - more than 185,000 alumni worldwide. We provide outreach opportunities throughout the country, develop opportunities for social and professional networking, and engage our alumni through communications, including web, social media and printed communication.

Your Niche Area of Expertise:
Communications, strategic messaging and media relations.

How Did You Get Started in this Business?
My first real "communications" job was working for an energy company where I had an opportunity to develop great skills in the areas of crisis communications, media relations and internal/external relations. The experiences I gained with this company really helped me enhance my professional skills and developed my work ethic. I have always enjoyed working with nonprofit agencies, so when the opportunity was presented to work for my alma mater, I jumped at the chance. Working with alumni who are passionate about their university makes my job fun, challenging and wonderful.

PR Tips | Hit the Refresh Button

We just redesigned our website here at Keybridge Communications after only two years. Why so soon? For us, there were several reasons.

First, we recently expanded our core services to include Web Development, Graphic Design and Social Media -- and these new services needed to have their own place on our website.

Second, our original website was created in Flash, and with the ever-changing technology on phones and tablets, we needed to stay up-to-date.

Third, we felt that our business, clients, potential clients, and followers would benefit from a blog.

So how do you know when it’s time for a website makeover? Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help you decide:

Advice from the Media | William Beecher

Name: William Beecher Title: Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland, College Park. (Pulitzer Prize winning former Washington correspondent for the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.) Personal Blog: WilliamBeecher 1) Describe what your typical workday was in 140 characters or less. When covering foreign affairs from Washington, I would start the day at the State Department, seeing sources I’d set up in advance, then move to other interviews at DOD, the White House, the Hill, the CIA, or with think tank experts or foreign embassy officials. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? During the Kennedy Administration officials spelled out a missile gap with the Soviet Union. It was exaggerated for political purposes. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? “Go with what you’ve got.” It was advice from Prof. John Hohenberg at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. The idea was: do as much reporting and research at you could, but when it came close to deadline, you should write the story on the basis of the best information you had at that point. You could always continue reporting and add new information subsequently. 4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? When your client has bad news, put it out immediately. You might have a day or two of lumps, but if you allow bad news to have legs and fester, it will bite your client endlessly.

PR Tips | Writing An Effective Press Release

In addition to my work at Keybridge, I'm the publisher of Terroirist.com, an award-winning daily wine blog. So when I'm not at the office, I'm immersed in the world of wine -- attending and hosting tastings, reading and writing articles, and browsing other blogs. One of my favorites is Fermentation, published by wine industry insider Tom Wark, a veteran wine marketer and publicist. Last summer, Tom wrote a blog post detailing how to write an effective press release. While Tom's focus was wine, the lessons are universal. So if you work in PR, it's well worth reading. The key takeaway? "The one thing that anyone writing, receiving, or reading a press release needs to be able to do is understand what 'news' is and if the press release contains any." Too often, public relations firms are guilty of sending out press releases devoid of news. When writing a press release, you must have a sense of what 'news' is -- to journalists, not your client -- and if the press release contains any. A good PR professional should be able to take virtually any story and make it newsworthy. All that's required is creativity and media savvy. Consider a fairly typical assignment for our firm, the release of a new think tank study. Let's think about a few possible headlines:

PR Tips | Home runs don’t just happen in PR, either

San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval inscribed his name in baseball's history books Wednesday night by hitting three home runs in Game One of the World Series. With the feat, he joined some illustrious company. Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols are the only others to do the same. To casual baseball fans, Sandoval may seem to have appeared out of nowhere. But he's actually been toiling in the Giants organization for over eight years. Sandoval had to log more than 2,200 at-bats in the minors -- and another 2,100 at the major-league level -- before slugging his way into baseball immortality. Similarly, folks looking to increase their media footprint generally need to notch a number of solid-if-not-sexy placements before they can reach a million readers with one op-ed or feature article.