Breaking News: The Media and You

No need for “no, no, no”

By Stephanie Greenwood
The recent TV interview with a St. Louis reporter and city comptroller (as her spokesperson intervened) has been the source of much scrutiny among PR professionals. Though I am not privy to the details of this situation, there are clearly many missteps (which have been covered ad nauseum by others). But for me, it serves as a good reminder about the need to prepare for difficult media questions and/or unexpected situations.

PR professionals should know their media contacts well and understand when a “no comment” statement will not be accepted. If you are asked about a situation in which an in-depth response isn’t appropriate, it is likely that a short written statement acknowledging the issue, providing brief context and/or correcting an inaccuracy would meet the reporter’s need versus saying that no comment will be given about the topic.

Communication with a client (internal or external) is critical. PR professionals should share when a media inquiry is received and provide guidance about what response should be given. Then talk through and agree on the approach. If the client is not willing to respond, draft a short media statement (see above). If they can respond but are not available to do so for a few days, tell the reporter and book the interview for the first mutually agreeable time. Then keep your client updated … let them know how the reporter reacts and prepare your client for what might happen next.

Media training internal and/or external clients is also critical; and they need to understand the media policy (and if there isn’t a policy, create one). Help them be prepared to work with reporters when they are approached directly. The policy may be that they need to tell reporters to contact the PR team first to schedule the interview at a mutually agreeable time. It may be that a member of the PR teams needs to be present during the interview.

Or it may be that they can quickly answer a few questions on their own … but train them in advance so they are well prepared to handle any situation.

Product Placement Isn’t Extinct

By Noah Smith

Please tell me that if you’re reading this you’ve seen Jurassic World. If not, where have you been all this time, the cretaceous period?

An Adweek article questions the product placement strategy in the new movie as being too much.

I disagree. I believe it’s where we are going.

Most baseball fields are named after a giant corporate sponsor. So, in theory, why couldn’t a sponsor have their name attached to a dinosaur? I think the step that takes it too far would be having the dinosaur named after a company: meet the Kraft Rex or the Jack Danialsasaurous. See? Too far. But if a company wants to sponsor it and have their brand all over the cage, then why not, we already do that.

The article also references the age of consumers and their level of trust in traditional advertising and then why this was such a big deal.

Of course, this is news because the film broke a record for opening weekend AND there are multiple product placements amidst the onscreen carnage. It begs the question: what if this was a lower budget film with the same advertising? Would I even be writing this article?

I’ll leave you with this before moving on, let’s forget what we know about the movie’s background and say it needed funding. What’s the difference between this and Kickstarter? It’s the same thing; advertisers pay to get certain eyes on their product. This movie could have been lacking funding and turned to sponsors to finish it. The movie gets made and the sponsors get their advertising, we are seeing this more and more as new ideas come from Kickstarter everyday.

Strictly speaking from the perspective of a Millennial consumer, yes, I’m seeing sponsors and advertising in a very different light–and I don’t trust the first one I see on TV. First off, I don’t have a TV. Marketers and advertising agents have to get real and change their tactics to target growing chunks of the population.

A lot of people are ditching TV, so that route is going out the window. Why not push to buy some space in major blockbusters? We see it and if we like the movie, might give a product a try…AND unlike TV, everyone will see the ads over and over again because it’s in a movie and not something we can ignore on TV or DVR. We will buy the film and watch it for years to come and the product will get more eyes on it and new generations will see it.

What do you think? Is product placement on the rise in films? Next time you watch a movie, keep an eye out for any real world products. Companies spend millions of dollars making a film, if it’s in there, it’s there for a reason and on purpose.

Finally, I can’t leave you without reminding you of a great product placement example in a film, The Truman Show, I’ll toss a clip so you can re-watch the very…dicey scene.

And now AGPR thanks you for tuning in to this post.


Find me on Twitter at N_Smith7.

3 Reasons Social Media Boosts Your Public Relations Efforts

We’re thrilled to welcome social media expert Michelle Stinson Ross to the blog!

We asked her to give us her take on ways to meld the best aspects of PR and social media–she did not disappoint. Check it out, and be sure to tell us what you think in the comments section.–Alex

Michelle Stinson Ross head shot

Michelle Stinson Ross

This is your company’s big moment! You’re launching a new product or service. You’ll be opening a new location for your growing customer base. The company is going to receive important industry recognition. You need to let the public KNOW.

How do you do that?

Like most other businesses have been doing for decades, you turn to Public Relations (PR) to help you. According to the Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia, PR is “using the news or business press to carry positive stories about your company or your products.” The news media carries a lot of credibility with the public, more so than advertising. The stories carried in the press also tend to have a longer life in the memory of the public than any advertising campaign. So, PR is incredibly important.

PR can also be difficult to achieve.

Even the best crafted press releases and pitches won’t get picked up by every media outlet. The reporter contacted may love the story angle but their producer or editor may have other stories that take priority. Honestly, it may just be that they don’t know of you or your company well enough, yet. At its heart PR is about building long term relationships with the press and the public.

To get the attention of the public when your company needs it most, you need credibility, expertise, and access. Your brand’s active social media presence goes a long way toward addressing those needs and can work hand in hand with your PR efforts.


As stated earlier, the news media garners far more credibility with the general public than traditional advertising. But there is another group of people that your customers and community trust even more. The personal opinions of their friends and family carry even more weight than anything they might see on TV or read in the newspaper.

With a business presence on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest your business has the opportunity to share and be shared by the people who matter most to your customers. That presence is also visible, especially on Twitter, to the reporters you need to reach with important news items. Social media can be the engine that drives relationships with the public and the press.


Often the key to getting picked up in the press is to be viewed as a reliable source of industry information. You need to be seen as the media’s go-to expert in your field. To do that you need to regularly demonstrate your expertise. But if you’re not already getting picked up in the press, how do you accomplish that?

Social media gives you the platform to showcase your particular knowledge. Even if you’re not yet comfortable speaking in public, you can write articles about what you do and how you do it on LinkedIn, Google+, and on your website’s blog. Those supporting articles can be attached as links to the pitches and press releases to demonstrate your personal history of expertise. Sharing them across social media is also a way to set your media pitch apart from all of the other emails that reporters receive on a daily basis.


PR is not a walk in the park. Sure, news outlets reach hundreds of thousands to millions of people every day. But how many of those millions are really the people you need to reach? You already know that reaching people like that is a numbers game. Of the tons of people who see a news story about you, only a small percentage will make the effort to seek you out. It’s incredibly important that you connect with the segment of real customers you reach.

Social media is the tool you use to capture and build on the attention you received from a particular news piece. The public liked what that reporter had to say about your business. They will want to learn more about you. They will want an opportunity to talk to you. Enabling that conversation to happen on social media helps new customers to walk through your door and keeps loyal customers coming back.

When getting your brand’s story in the news is critical, make sure that you’re supporting those PR efforts with every resource available to you. Amplify the credibility, expertise, and access you have to your community through social media.

Michelle Stinson Ross is a digital marketing industry recognized authority on the outreach power of social media. She has worked as a community manager and consultant for several brands to increase brand awareness, raise the visibility of special promotions, and train their teams to use the social space to connect with media influencers and the public.

Michelle co-hosts #SocialChat, a Twitter based live chat that covers a variety of topics geared toward social media marketing (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET). Her passion for social media marketing has made her a regular conference speaker at events like ClickZ Live, Socialize Toronto, and Search Marketing Expo. She has also been a featured guest on Webmaster Radio and several industry Hangouts on Air.



Welcome @Hauntcast Listeners!

If you heard our spot on the latest episode of Hauntcast and are looking for more information about ways we can help amp up your haunted attraction or company social media presence, you’re in the right place!Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 8.52.43 AM

Why Do You Need a Strong Social Media Presence?

Let’s look at the facts:

As Steve Cooper wrote in Forbes

Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that gets consumers to open up their pocketbook—next to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, according to Alliance Data Retail Services (ADRS), a marketing and customer loyalty solutions provider. 

It gets better. According to America Haunts, there are at least 1,200 haunted attractions charging admission nationwide every year, with 300 amusement parks “dressing up” for Halloween and more than 3,000 charity attractions that open for one day on Halloween or one of two weekends in October.

The site also reports that the typical haunted attraction averages around 8,000 guests, depending on the market and size of the attraction. Some attractions do exponentially better. The haunted attraction industry generates between $300 and $500 million in ticket sales per year.

Imagine: this half a billion-dollar industry basically thrives in a six-week window once a year. If you own a haunted attraction, it better be good, it better be accessible…and people better know BOO about it. If you have a haunted attraction, you have to be damn good at marketing it, or you’re not going to make it (there are virtual graveyards of failed haunt attractions out there).

Forget for a moment that we’re talking about haunted houses. Let’s talk about any product or industry–for example, aluminum siding. Do you need aluminum siding every day? No. Every week? No. Every year? Probably not. Yet what do you see on local TV? Commercials for aluminum siding. Why? Do the aluminum siding salespersons presume everyone watching will “Call now”? No. What they assume is one of two things:

1. Some people out there in TV land do need siding in the near future, so why not reach out to them?

2. Many viewers will eventually need siding, so they want their company to be “top of mind” when that day comes.

It’s a basic precept of marketing–if people don’t know about  you, they’ll never buy anything from you. This means that even if what you sell is a rare purchase, you better make sure your name is out there.

Let’s apply this rule to haunted attractions.

One thing I see over and over (with a few notable exceptions) is that haunted attractions do a lackluster job of keeping in touch with patrons throughout the year. Now, no, I do not believe you should run a TV ad in February for your haunted house. It would be weird. (Though I do think a little pattern interrupt–say, an ad in July is a good idea–but that’s not the point.) No, you should not be running ads year-round. However, you should be doing something else to keep your name out there. You should be active in social media.

Wait, wait. Come back!

Here’s the good news: it’s free (of charge, generally). The bad news: it takes time, and if you do not consistently participate, it doesn’t work.

So, being active on social media costs you time and creativity, year round. The benefits? If you maintain a consistent, entertaining presence on your Twitter of Terror, Gothic Google +, Fearsome Facebook, Icky Instagram and even Lethal LinkedIn, you can foster a regular, top of mind relationship with haunted attraction fans. This way, when your hot and heavy marketing push starts in September, you’ll have an army of brand ambassadors ready to help you spread the word.

Can you imagine the increased bang for your TV buck if  hundreds of fans share your TV spot on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook? What if you have social media-inflamed excitement building over ticket or fastpass giveaways, or people posting pics with your scareactors from the wait line outside your attraction on Instagram?

And what if your haunt space is used for special events or other commerce the rest of the year? Social media is a great way to let your fans know what’s happening when the lights are on and the monsters are in storage.

If you need help creating a social media strategy (and/or operatives to run it) for your haunted house, hayride, home haunt or warehouse, I’d be thrilled to work with you. We do social media and public relations strategies for numerous businesses every day. It would be horrifically fun to create an affordable social media (and or PR) strategy to market your haunt. Call 816-416-8002  or email us today.

We ain’t scared!

So Much to Learn, So Little Time.

Molly helping Alex with his pre-interview nerves at KCTV.

Molly helping Alex with his pre-interview nerves at KCTV.



By Molly Brown

My time at Alexander G Public Relations has come to a close. Wait…didn’t I just get here? Yes. A week and a half ago I began my internship here and today I will walk away with so much knowledge about Public Relations. But unfortunately, duty calls – that duty being college – so I must get back to K-State to continue furthering my education. Don’t get me wrong, I love Manhattan, my friends, the Wildcats, and everything about K-State, but there is so much to learn right here (the best part is that there are no exams and a minimum amount of homework). Jokes aside, I’d like to share with you the top 10 lessons I learned during my internship here at Alexander G Public Relations.

  1. I’m where I want to be. Being here has made me realize I made a good decision choosing Public Relations as my major. I’ve loved the work I’ve done here and can easily see myself making this my lifelong career.
  2. Blogging is spectacular. Last week I wrote my first blog post on Paul Medina, I loved seeing it online. I also wrote another post during this week and yesterday I even started my own WordPress blog.
  3. There are secrets to social media. A magician never reveals their secrets, but I’m sure that what I learned will be very beneficial.
  4. Creativity is key. Just because you’re writing a press release, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, don’t be afraid to use creativity in your writing. Also, catchy and original headlines are a MUST.
  5. It’s OK to tweet a lot. Building your Twitter following is actually important because sharing online is a big part of the job. Having a lot of followers and tweets shows that you have a good idea of what you’re doing.
  6. PR includes lots of writing. My love of writing is the reason I chose journalism. If I’m being honest, when I switched to PR, I kind of thought I was saying goodbye to writing, but that’s not true. Writing is a big part of PR.

  7. I (mostly) understand LinkedIn now. I may only be at 37 connections, but thanks to Alex, I was able to spiff up my profile. I’m making it my goal to regularly check my LinkedIn and continue to learn.
  8. I love being behind the scenes. Going to KCTV5 was such a cool experience. Although I’m not the type of person to jump in front of the camera, I love seeing what goes on in order to broadcast the news on TV.
  9. It is acceptable to conduct an e-mail interview. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but sometimes face-to-face interviews are not my favorite. It’s mpossible to write down everything the person is saying. What I learned is that sometimes e-mail interviews are OK and to me they can be just as informative as face to face. It also gives the interviewee more time to think about what they want to say.
  10. Interns can break records. I’m not typically one to brag, but I was informed this morning that my second blog post for the website broke the record for number of hits in one day. The previous record was 103 and I shattered that record with 127 hits in one day. Of course when I first wrote the blog I thought – Oh this is dumb, I doubt anyone will read it. – So I am very proud of myself!

Thank you Alex, Noah, and Erica for teaching me and letting me join your team for such a short amount of time. I’ve loved my experience here and I can’t wait to get back to school and share what I’ve learned with all of my PR friends.


Find me on Twitter! @mollzz94

Molly, it was our pleasure! Come back and see us on your way to the top!–Alex 


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