How to Plan Your Next Video

By Pete Cousté, PC MediaWorks and Chair, PRSA-NCC Independent PR Alliance Committee

I covered more than my share of National Press Club events as a broadcast journalist and TV producer early in my career at CNN, WUSA-TV9, and others.  However, I had never appeared on a panel to present to a few hundred PR colleagues until recently at the 2019 PR Summit DC.

For the first time, I was invited to speak on a panel underneath that NPC sign. It was called Ready, Fire, Aim: How (Not) To Plan Your Next Video. Not surprisingly, the topic of video in PR was either the main focus or a big part of the discussion in at least three sessions in the daylong conference.  

It was a new perspective for me. After my 25-plus years of work in broadcast TV news, PR, marketing, and digital video in DC, there was a lot to talk about.

I was fortunate to be teamed with other accomplished creatives to offer others insight across the agency, client and production perspectives.  They included moderator Glenn Greenstein, the creative director and founder of Mean Green Media; Mimi Carter, the US General Manager & SVP of Proof Strategies and a longtime local PR and marketing agency veteran; and Thorsten Ruehlemann, Chief Marketing Officer of Service Year Alliance and former Worldwide Managing Partner at Ogilvy & Mather.

Our goal was to help other PR pros like yourself get better results from the process of planning, managing and implementing video projects.  We met, collaborated and trade ideas for a couple of weeks to come up with our top ten list of best practices and tips to share.

Be Transparent

A good partner shares information openly with the team. We as clients must define the boundaries of a project. Provide your team with the freedom of a tight creative brief. Put it in writing. Articulate client goals clearly.

Be transparent about your expectations. Explain the business objective of your video. Share reference material/benchmarks (creative examples you like or do not like). Make budgets and internal deadlines transparent (e.g. board needs to approve concept in their meeting on this date).

Achieve Stakeholder Alignment Early

Ensure that purpose, scope and objectives are clear to all stakeholders before production begins. Video is a team collaboration requiring time and resources. Verify that SMEs, approvers, and key decision makers are committed and know when they’re needed and carve out time to participate.

Assign a single point-person to collect and control feedback-approval loop. Educate reviewers on what feedback you need from them. Keep them in their lanes. Avoid committee groupthink. Get individual feedback submitted in writing.

Make Video Part of Your Integrated PR or Marketing Plan

Think integrated video strategy upfront. Use your same APR PR process stages with video (Research, Plan, Implement, Evaluate). Think in categories of earned, owned, and paid media. Include the creative lead of the video team at strategy table early to help consider how to integrate video across your campaign’s tactics, platforms, and audiences.

Save money through economies of scale by planning and producing videos with overlapping content, shared assets, resources, and for multiple uses at the same time. Save time and money by re-purposing and re-versioning content across channels. Grow a video asset library.

Learn More

For the entire list, feel free to email me and I’ll send it to you, pete [at]

It was both a humbling and inspiring experience to try to give back a little of what I’ve learned that works best. I recommend it to all of you. Once you have logged enough time and feel you have something valuable that others want to hear, it helps to share it.

As an active member of PRSA, I felt as I spoke that I was in part representing fellow NCC members. It helped to see many familiar faces from our chapter in the audience as I spoke.  Thank you. You know who you are.


Easy as Pi: How Comms Pros Can use Numbers to Shape Social Strategy

By Kevin Coroneos, Digital Director, Aerospace Industries Association

When it comes to communication professionals, there’s one thing that usually unites us: a hatred of math.

But for a digital strategist, numbers – specifically social media metrics – should be your best friend, especially if you have a wide-ranging audience.

With the growing divide between generations on social media platforms, relying on audience and post analytics can help shape a cross-generational digital strategy that can grow your engagement and your community.

In running communications for the world’s largest student rocket contest, I get to speak directly to some of the brightest young minds in the country. But these students aren’t launching rockets on their own. They have teachers and a network of mentors and aerospace professionals guiding them along the way!

With this full network of participants and supervisors comes a generation gap. We have adults who want the facts, and students who worship Fortnite and think storming Area 51 is hilarious.

Luckily, that’s where the numbers come in.

Audience analytics on each platform are wonderful for figuring out who you’re actually talking to. There are, of course, several fancier tools to analyze your audience, but if you’re a smaller organization with limited budget, you can get pretty scrappy with the back-end analytics.

At our organization, by looking at the ages, genders and locations of our audiences, and matching them up with the locations of our participating teams, we were able to gain a very strong idea of the individuals on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

To confirm our beliefs, we also analyzed key metrics, including total engagement and engagement rates (the number of engagements divided by the number of impressions). With that information, we were able to build audience profiles to match to each platform.

On Instagram, we found that our audience was current participants – both their personal and team accounts – and young alumni.

On Twitter, we found our most diverse audience: a mix of media, politicians, teams, sponsoring companies, teachers and more.

And on Facebook, we lacked our current participants, but we had the adults and family members involved in the program – an important outlet for communicating with the students.

So basically, we’re talking to a lot of different people in a lot of different places – and our digital strategy must reflect that.

For example, our data showed that content around participants in action had a much higher engagement rate on Instagram than other platforms. We knew that in order to engage students, we needed to give them the content that they cared about. But with a nationwide contest, we can’t get in every classroom.

But we can put the content in the hands of the students so they’re communicating to one another. Using these analytics and information, we did two things.

First, we ran weekly photo contests as a way to get our audience to post on their own accounts more often, as well as provide us with more content.

Second, we began executing Instagram takeovers – letting our audience decide their own content. Not only did we see increased engagement across Instagram, but also we grew our audience because the students wanted to show off to their friends.

By looking at the top-performing content on the platform, we were able to build a strategy to give our audience the content they wanted, increasing our engagement and our audience over time.

But that’s not all we were able to gain from our analytics.

By exploring the metrics and audience breakdowns, we also determined HOW to talk to each unique group. You wouldn’t necessarily talk to a 15-year-old the same way you’d talk to a 50-year-old, so why would you do the same on social media?

On Facebook, we saw our posts were highly engaged with when our tone was more informative, resourceful or supportive. When it featured a more playful voice, we saw much less engagement. This helped us develop the appropriate voice to effectively communicate with our audience and provide them with information, as well as develop a legitimate, supportive community in which there was information sharing and well wishes.

Since our audience features older mentors and teachers, we also learned that posts that featured a call-to-action directed at “your students” or “your rocketeers” outperformed general calls to action.

But on Instagram, if we were a bit sarcastic or humorous – we saw more likes, more comments and more direct messages. This, of course, makes the role more fun, but requires me to try to be hip and stay up-to-date on the meme culture…

By developing an audience-centric strategy and building our voice and tone based on data analytics, we saw our engagement on each platform grow organically. We also built an overall stronger community because of it. All it took was for communicators to finally accept math as a part of life.

Kevin Coroneos is the Digital Director for the Aerospace Industries Association and Communications Director for The American Rocketry Challenge.

3 Low-Cost PR Strategies for Small Businesses

By Grayson Kemper, Senior Content Developer for Clutch

Small businesses often struggle to find low-cost solutions to create awareness and promote their brands to the public.

There are, however, many public relations strategies that your small business can implement to create discussion and awareness about your company.

In this article, we share three public relations strategies that can help build your brand’s reach, awareness, and reputation without overextending your budget:

  1. Online reputation management (ORM)
  2. SEO
  3. Community building and engagement

1. Online Reputation Management

Businesses that monitor their online reputation can effectively gauge public perception about their company and find opportunities to meaningfully engage with customers about their feedback and challenges.

While online reputation management agencies can provide a full suite of service for both proactive and reactive online reputation management, the cost may be too hefty for some small businesses.

Some ORM strategies, though, can be done in-house, with the proper care and attention. Two in particular are encouraging online reviews and social media monitoring.

Reviews provide opportunities for brands to build a meaningful connection with consumers. Responding to both negative and positive reviews is essential to building brand authority.

Encouraging customers to leave reviews can create benefits for your small business, regardless of whether the review is positive or negative.

  • Brands that respond to negative reviews by helping to correct a problem prove their dedication to customer satisfaction.
  • Brands that thank people for positive reviews show the public they’re engaged with customers and that they appreciate feedback.

A recent survey by The Manifest found that over half of small businesses respond publicly to negative reviews, while nearly half respond privately.

Companies  that respond to reviews and comments are able to build awareness and strengthen their brand reputation.

For example, when a Zappos customer posted a shipping complaint on the company’s Facebook page, the company responded with an offer to help resolve the issue.

Source: Facebook

In another thread, a customer wrote to praise a customer service representative at Zappos, and the company responded immediately by thanking the commentator for his feedback.

Source: Facebook

Social listening also is an essential part of online reputation management. Specifically, it helps companies understand what people are saying about them online and gives them broader insight about general perceptions about their company

There are a variety of free social listening tools that your small business can use to track social conversation about your company and respond quickly.

2. Organic SEO

Optimizing your website for search engines can help to get your brand and its products in front of new people daily.

Over 60% of people click on the top 5 results of a search engine results page. If you are able to earn placement in a prime spot, you create an opportunity to earn the attention and potential patronage of search audiences for keywords related to your business.

People also increasingly rely on Google results to find local businesses – i.e., “laundromats near me.” Investing in local SEO allows small businesses to establish a presence for local searches that can help attract and retain key local audiences.

Though SEO has a time cost associated with its implementation and maintenance, small businesses can benefit greatly from a strong SEO strategy.

Include some of your best reviews on the welcome page of your website, to encourage Google to feature these positive reviews.

3. Community Engagement

Rather than simply treating social media as a method to communicate to the public, you should strive to create a community through your company’s social media.

To do this, focus on sharing content that is highly relevant to your followers interest. This sort of content on social media creates opportunities to truly engage with your followers.

According to The Manifest survey, 56% of businesses do not engage with  their audiences through social media. This creates an opportunity for your business to gain a competitive edge by building an active social media audience.

For example, SEO expert Rand Fishkin recently founded SparkToro and has used social media to create discussion and engagement to grow brand awareness.

Source: Rand Fishkin on Instagram

Starbucks, for example, shares a mix of entertaining content, including inspirational quotes. Recently, it shared a quote that garnered over 800 comments.

Posting engaging content on helps customers better understand your company, and by extension, creates appeal for your products.

Small Businesses Can Engage Customers Using Inexpensive PR Strategies

Small businesses can create visibility and appeal through low-cost public relations campaigns such as online reputation management, organic SEO, and community engagement.

About the Author

Grayson Kemper is a senior content developer for Clutch, the leading research, ratings, and reviews platform for B2B services and solutions providers. Clutch serves as a resource for businesses searching for top PR firms, app developers, and other marketing and technology services.

Speaking & Presenting with “Presents”

By Susan Matthews Apgood, President & CEO, News Generation, Inc.

On Friday, June 21, PRSA-NCC held a workshop at Oglivy in Washington, D.C. named “How to Present to Senior Executives and Clients.” It was presented by Sarah Gershman from Greenroom Speakers.

Sarah outlined that there are three kinds of presence: 1. Presence of Self, 2. Presence of Message, and 3. Presence of Delivery. She explained that when you address an audience, you need to break down a wall. How do we do this? First, we have to create a shift in the way we prepare for a presentation. Instead of starting with the topic, start with the audience.

For each presentation you give, you have to look at what the audience’s needs are. Needs come in two forms: spoken and unspoken. Many prepare to present with a focus on all of the knowledge they have as a presenter. Instead, shift that focus to what the audience needs to know. What do they need to get out of the information you are presenting?

As you prepare to present, outline three items: 1. What do you want the audience to know? 2. How do you want them to feel? and 3. What do you want them to do after listening to your presentation? From this, you have to break through and become part of the audience’s story to get them to engage and listen to your story.

Many people HATE to speak in front of any audience, large or small. Gershman’s take on that? People are not worried about the presenter. They are thinking about themselves. What do to they have to this afternoon? What about dinner tonight?

Ninety-three percent of content delivered comes from voice and body language. With only seven percent coming from words. That does not mean that words are not important, of course they are. We just have to make sure that what we are delivering to the audience matches the tone of what we are saying. People typically don’t remember the words you said, they remember how you make them feel.

Ears will lose focus if the speaker is presenting in a monotone voice. How do we create contrast as a presenter? You can talk louder and then softer, you can change the tempo in your delivery, you can update the pitch of your voice, and you can change your tone, presenting more practically and then mixing in with emotional tones.

In terms of body-language, there are three ways to keep the audience engaged. First, by movement. For example, lean into the audience when a question is being asked, and then step back to address the entire audience when answering the question. Second, by visuals. Make sure that your Power Point is not too busy where you are making the audience work for what you are presenting. Too much text on a slide will make the audience focus on two things: you and the slide deck. Keep it simple. Third, eye contact. Instead of looking at a presentation as addressing 50 or 100 people, look at it as having several short conversations in a row. One person at a time.

Sarah closed her presentation by outlining the difference between charisma and presence. Charisma is when people are drawn to a person because of their natural attributes. But presence is when the speaker is drawn into the audience. Sara concluded with the idea of always having gratitude towards the audience, and making sure you provide them with the gift of your presence or providing “presents.”

If you would like to connect with Sarah and have her come to your team and present, you can email her at or visit her website at

What’s New in Today’s Newsroom?

By Sheri L. Singer, President of Singer Communications

It’s always been challenging to reach journalists. Today, many journalists work remotely and the message I hear when I call them is, “You can leave a message, but I rarely work from the office and don’t check messages often.”

The newsroom landscape has changed significantly, even in the past year. Here are a few tips to help.

Be a detective. In reaching out to journalists today, you need to be a detective to find those covering your industry. Start by using a media database, resource references or the Internet. But also think outside the box. Your final list may include traditional journalists, online only editors, influencers, bloggers and podcasters.

Include bloggers. Identify a few of the bloggers that cover topics in your industry and whose opinions are well respected.

You can determine their influence in numerous ways — Who reads their blog? Do they have the ability to influence the industry? How do they influence your industry? How many people read their blog? Or you may tag them by other factors of importance to your company or organization.

Once you’ve identified these bloggers, follow them on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. There’s a possibility they may follow you in return. Be sure to share content relevant to them on these platforms.

In addition to sharing relevant information with bloggers, you may choose to pitch them. According to one source (Finn PR), 88 percent of bloggers say they expect PR practitioners to contact them, but 51 percent complained that the PR professional didn’t craft a personal pitch.

So this step is critical — before you reach out to a blogger, read some of their blogs. Develop a customized pitch or a direct message and send it to them via email or a social media platform.

When developing a message to a blogger, talk about some of the issues they have written about in the past. Let them know you have information to share that may be relevant to what they cover.

According to research by Finn PR, less than half of bloggers (41 percent) expect to be paid. But the question of charging a fee or not is completely dependent on the individual blogger. You want to ask the blogger about any fees to be certain you are clear on the details of working with that blogger.

Once you build a relationship with the blogger, you may suggest that your organization or company write a guest blog. Again, whether blog posts accept submissions from outside authors is completely up to the individual blogger.

Remember that your goal in reaching out to a blogger is most likely to build a relationship. To this end, building a relationship with a blogger is a marathon not a sprint.

Get to know an industry influencer. An influencer has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.

Every industry has influencers such as celebrities, industry experts and thought leaders, content creators such as bloggers, or micro influencers (those influencing a specific segment of your industry).

Influencers are often quoted, referenced, or interviewed in online articles, industry publications, TV/cable, radio or podcasts. For example, in the medical bioethics field, Arthur Caplan is an influencer.

Typically, when working with an influencer, you make a direct ask of what you’d like the influencer to do–recommend your company’s product, promote your association’s event, attend an event or celebration, etc.

Unlike working with a blogger, often there is a fee to work with an influencer. It may be helpful to first discuss what you expect the influencer to do before negotiating the fee. Be sure to mention any other benefits the influencer might obtain from working with your organization — getting in front of a new audience, helping a charity, etc. If the particular influencer’s fee doesn’t fit your budget, ask if they could recommend a colleague.

Consider podcasts. As of June 2019, there are 700,000 podcasts with 29M episodes according to MusicMPH that based their information on studies by Nielsen and Edison. And those numbers are predicted to increase.

Identify the podcasters in your industry and listen to those podcasts. You may want to consider trying to get your CEO or other spokesperson on the podcast by reaching out to the podcast producer or host.

If you are successful in getting your spokesperson on a podcast the most important tip is to prepare for the interview. Start by using your organization’s messages and help the spokesperson by conducting mock interviews with some softball and tougher anticipated questions. In some cases, the podcaster may ask you for questions in advance.

Let your industry community know that you will be participating in the podcast and tell them how they can listen. You may choose to record the podcast and (with the permission of the podcaster) and post a minute on your website.

Continue to share industry information with the podcaster after the podcast airs. This is about building long-term relationships, not just being a one-hit wonder.

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the new newsroom. Have a tip that’s worked for you? Feel free to add it here.

About the Author

Sheri L. Singer is passionate about helping companies and associations solve their PR related challenges. As president of Singer Communications, she also is Chair of the American Society of Association Executives’ Healthcare Community Committee. She speaks about 15 times a year for various companies and associations on PR related topics.





Public Relations and the Free Press: Elements in a Critical Equation

By Judy Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA; PRSA National President and CEO, 2005

PRSA’s Code of Ethics has always been a point of pride for me, as a member and a public relations professional, just as I’m sure it is for all of us who have pledged to uphold it. The words set the stage, but it is understanding and translating them into action that counts. Ethical public relations doesn’t just happen because we say so. It’s part of a critical equation that begins with a free society. That free society, in turn, requires a free press and an informed public.

As public relations professionals, we have an obligation to speak up if any element of this equation is threatened. It’s the only way we can do our jobs successfully, on behalf of our employers/clients and in the service of our own ethical and professional standards.

Recently, PRSA – on behalf of all of us – exercised its right and obligation to advocate forcefully and openly for the necessity of a free press and an informed public. In a public statement, it affirmed the free press as a “vital engine of democracy” and urged the White House to reestablish, with its new appointment, the traditional role of the White House Press Secretary. In particular, the statement called for recognition of the Press Secretary’s role to “advocate for a free press and keep American citizens well-informed about actions being taken that will affect their lives.” Practically speaking, that translates into “frequent and informative briefings and working productively with the press,” the statement notes. In contrast, during the last six months, two formal press briefings were held at the White House, and the last on-camera briefing by a spokesperson at the Pentagon was May 31, 2018.

While PRSA’s statement reflects a current situation, it is about good practice, not politics. Threats to a free press are a worldwide and growing concern. Last August, PRSA joined with 14 leading international public relations communications organizations to issue a collaborative statement in support of a free press around the world in response to these concerns.

Public relations professionals understand all too well that threats to a free press anywhere, in any form, directly impact another critical element in our ethical public relations equation: an informed public. When public interest is ignored, an uninformed public can rapidly lose trust in a society’s basic institutions. Loss of these essential elements in our equation threatens our ability to provide valuable service to all our audiences.

Some wise words from the late Patrick Jackson (founder of Jackson Jackson & Wagner and 1980 PRSA President) come to mind. Pat, one of the most widely known and respected practitioners in our profession, talked about trust as an essential part of ethical, successful public relations. He called relationships with our publics “the currency of public relations” and said trust was necessary to build those relationships. He argued that people want to be “served, not sold; involved, not told.” Those words still resonate today. They remind us of the great things that can be achieved through a free press working in tandem with thoughtful, ethical and strategic public relations professionals.


New PR/PA writing, shorter than ever, FYA not FYI, zippier: Are you prepared?

By Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA

Keep writing long, indirect, colorless documents and soon no one will read what you’ve written as intently as you would like – or at all.

Today’s for-profit, nonprofit and government organizations, along with their audiences, expect PR/PA writers – both staff and consultant – to get to the point quicker and with more oomph.

This is due, in part, because readers don’t have time for what social media expert Guy Kawasaki calls ‘War and Peace’ memos or 60-slide PowerPoint presentations for one-hour meetings. Email and texting have robbed us of untold time and attention once devoted to more traditional writing styles and forms.

This is due, as well, to the truncated text that is intrinsic to the internet, the single most important driver of new business writing and design influence. Online images, for example, have replaced a megaton of the verbiage that was normal in the print-dominated world of a relative few years ago.

Because of these and related changes and influences, headlines, subject lines and lead paragraphs must also be shorter and snappier. Writers must use tighter, more concrete language that will get more people to do things quickly on their employer’s or client’s behalf – e.g., buy, invest, donate, volunteer, participate, support, work for and vote.

Copywriting is the key to creating the desired energetic text, especially for blogs and social media sites, which people scan like ads. Copywriting is generally zippier, friendlier, younger in tone, more playful and more emotional than traditional business prose.

Unfortunately, most organizational writers have little serious copywriting experience – that’s found mostly in ad and marketing agencies – so they must go back to school to upgrade their skills.

They must attend workshops and seminars of local and national PR, advertising and marketing associations. They must read books on the topic. And they must subscribe for free to online sites such as HubSpot, Copyblogger and Co-Schedule, each of which will send them invaluable how-to guidelines as context for buying their innovative products.

In the current organizational writing environment, a picture is worth far more than a thousand words. Writers at all levels need to keep this in mind as they’re urged and eventually required to embrace the “snackable” brevity that is fast becoming the new norm in PR/PA and related business writing.

About the Author

Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA, teaches public relations writing and management at New York University. He also teaches writing workshops worldwide. For over 40 years, he has handled PR for corporations, associations, and nonprofit organizations. He owned The Bates Company, Inc., an international PR agency, which he sold after 12 years. He has taught at Columbia University and the New School University and is founding director of the graduate program in strategic public relations at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM), Washington, DC. He teaches his well-known full-day writing workshop several times annually for the PRSA-NCC chapter in Washington, DC. His next workshop is August 20.