|Frequently Asked Questions
What is PR? PR is an abbreviation for public relations,
defined as the art of establishing and promoting a favorable
relationship with the public; also referred to as publicity,
which involves dissemination of information through various
media to attract public notice. PR assists in the growth or
acceptance of new products, services, or ideas. In general,
PR is designed to favorably influence public opinion while
helping you expand your business. At Jane Ayer Public Relations,
PR also stands for personal relations, representing the agency's
personal approach to work with clients.
How is PR different from advertising?
When a company advertises, it pays for the guaranteed
placement of it's ad, exactly as the company has prepared
it. For example, a company may advertise the launch of its
Web site in a business publication. Public relations, on the
other hand, involves no payment to the media. There is no
guarantee of placement and the information is not prepared
by the company. With public relations, a company provides
the media with information about a news event or feature story,
and it is up to the media to determine coverage. In other
words, the media decides what to cover, how to tell the story,
and when to tell the story.
While PR involves no guarantee of placement, it is much more
cost effective than advertising. For the same 1/4 page in
a major daily newspaper, for example, a company would spend
an average of $15,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on the
contract. Coverage in broadcast media would cost even more
if secured through advertising. For example, a 30 second spot
on a top-ranked network television show can cost upwards of
Even more important than the cost factor is the credibility
factor. When your audience sees an article about your company
in a newspaper, the story carries the credibility that comes
with news published in a newspaper. People believe that if
the company is being written about, it is credible. On the
other hand, when people see an advertisement about that company
in the same newspaper, they know that the company paid for
the advertisement and this reduces the credibility factor.
How can JAPR help with a company's advertising needs?
If you have a budget for both advertising and public
relations, JAPR has working relationships with key advertising
agencies having expertise in online and offline campaigns.
We can assist you in integrating the messages so that your
audience is reached most effectively.
How do companies benefit from public relations?
By implementing a PR campaign, you commit time and energy
to winning the attention of the media. The results can dramatically
increase sales, enhance corporate positioning and create higher
visibility with current and future investors.
How do companies determine if an investment in PR makes
Consider a PR campaign if you have any of the following goals:
a desire to enhance your image, increase sales, attract investment
dollars, secure business partners, launch a Web site, drive
traffic to a Web site, promote a film project, expand your
reach in the global arena, and generally increase your impact
in the marketplace.
What makes a successful PR campaign?
A successful PR campaign requires the following: commitment,
time, creative energy, and a focus on the long-term. To achieve
results with PR requires the ability to convince the media
of the newsworthiness of your company, providing the media
with information and materials they need to tell your story,
and persistent follow-up to confirm media interest and provide
last minute pieces of information for people who are always
on a deadline. In short, it's about relationship building
and getting to know the media and their needs. We at JAPR
know what it takes to build and keep these relationships.
The payoff for a successful PR campaign, requiring continual
contacts with the media including phone calls, faxes, and
e-mails, can be tremendous, as millions of potential customers
learn the benefits of what your company has to offer, from
a source they trust, at a substantial savings over paid advertising.
At JAPR, each communication with a journalist is treated with
care, as we express our excitement about your latest news.
The following is some inside information about the workings
of the media.
How is story content and placement determined?
While a good publicist can help a reporter to define a story
and can spot and hopefully correct misconceptions that he
or she may have, the media outlet has final control over the
scope, length, and content of the story. The reporter will
have some control, preparing the story based on the facts
given. However, it should be noted that reporters typically
don't write their own headlines, and often their stories are
heavily edited before being published or aired.
Good public relations is no guarantee of getting on "page
one." Remember, there are no guarantees about placement in
the news, or even that the story will appear. Guarantees are
given only with paid advertising, and that doesn't have the
credibility of positive publicity.
How do local, national and world events impact the pick-up
of a press release?
Even if you have a dynamite story, it is always at the mercy
of the day's events. For example, if you announce a new product
or service on the same day that a major civil crisis occurs,
coverage could be affected.
At the same time, knowing about developments in the news can
assist you in maximizing media interest and attention. For
example, if a celebrity creating major headlines one week
is also connected with your event or launch, you could gain
added publicity. Another example is a new book about breast
cancer being promoted during a national breast cancer awareness
What is the difference between breaking news and feature stories?
Information is used by the media in two basic forms - news
and features. News is an event or announcement of information
happening TODAY, such as an event with a celebrity speaker.
An event which happened last week would be old news and therefore
of no interest to the media as a news item. Features, on the
other hand, relate more to trends and discussions of topics
- like new techniques in e-commerce or trends in health care.
Features are of more interest to the media when tied to a
particularly timely topic. For example, the feature about
your new Web site offering dental health advice will be of
more interest to media sent out during dental awareness week.
This gives the media a "news peg" and a reason to run the
Even with such "news pegs," however, there is NO Guarantee
the media will show up at your "news event" or cover news
simply because you sent a press release. Even when the media
agree to cover a story such as yours, they may at the last
moment change their priorities and cover other stories instead.
Another possible scenario is that the media may attend your
event and speak with you, write a story and then find that
the story "gets bumped" by news editors who allot the space
to another story.
What kind of information do the media want?
Regardless of whether you are providing information for a
news or feature story, the media in each case want to know:
Who - you/your company
What - what about it is newsworthy
When - when is it happening
Where - the location where it is happening
Why - why is it happening/why there is a need for it
How - how it is being achieved/carried out
Background - some background information/historical perspective
of the news
How do you prepare for TV and radio interviews?
Journalists in the broadcast media will want the same
kind of informative background as noted above. In addition,
there are visuals to consider. Broadcast media will need something
visual to illustrate your story. It will be important to dress
appropriately. A basic rule of dress code for TV interviews
is to avoid wearing clothing or other accessories that will
detract from what you have to say. Stark contrasts of black
and white or severe plaids can create strange problems on
the TV screen, such as a fuzzy, wavy pattern. Heavy jewelry
can reflect light or make distracting clinking sounds.
To make sure you are prepared for a TV interview, know that
indoor shots will require the crew to light the room with
professional equipment. Before a TV crew arrives for an indoor
location, know where the electrical outlets are, particularly
three-pronged outlets, and know where the building's fuse
box is, in case the lights blow out the fuses. If the location
is outdoors for radio or TV, try to pick a place for the interview
where the noise of passing traffic and/or aircraft overhead
will be minimal.
During the interview, look at the interviewer (not the camera)
and use the reporter's first name. Remember to use the name
of your company in your sentences. Smile and be positive,
even if the questions aren't positive. Do try to answer direct
questions with direct answers.
What are some general interview preparation tips?
In advance of a media interview, there are several things
you can do to be fully prepared. Do be sure to have the latest
data on your company at your fingertips e.g. the company fact
sheet. Sometimes it's possible to gather preliminary questions
from a reporter. By asking the reporter for five to 10 sample
questions, you are able to understand the issues to be discussed
and better prepare responses in advance. Remember to dress
appropriately, especially if it's a TV interview. Try to anticipate
negative angles on a story in advance, and decide how to turn
negatives into positives. Don't assume you can answer all
questions extemporaneously. Come prepared with written materials
you can refer to during an interview. It's important to try
and develop some rapport with the reporter at the start of
the interview. Remember to include the name of your company
and your Web site in your responses.
What are your rights as the interviewee?
You as an interviewee have rights. These include knowing with
whom you're dealing (ask the reporter's name), knowing what
type of story they are planning, and being treated courteously.
What can I tell a journalist in confidence that it's "off
Whatever you say, be sure it's true. And no matter what, remember
that everything you say is on the record. Know that brevity
is a virtue. Therefore, think before you speak. And, if you
don't know the answer to a question, remember that "I don't
know" is not a guilty plea. If you don't know the answer to
a question, don't try to make up something that could be inaccurate.
Simply admit that you don't know and offer to find out the
What else can be expected when interacting with journalists?
Never ask a reporter to show you a story before it's published.
If you have an interview or request for a call back with a
journalist, do respect the appointment time and the journalist's
What can be expected after the interview takes place?
If it's a TV interview, stay where you are until you are told
that you are off the air. Thank the interviewer and crew for
making the interview possible. Don't stride away from the
location immediately, as the crew may need some final shots.
In general, know that it's nearly impossible (99.9 percent
of the time) to kill a story you don't like. That's why it's
important to learn how to handle a potentially damaging story
so that you can defuse criticism and respond in a manner that
demonstrates an appropriate level of concern, action, and
openness. If the story is wrong, it's best to contact the
reporter (not his/her boss). Then, if there is no satisfaction,
speak with the reporter's editor. Going to the publisher is
not only ineffective, but also will get the reporter angry.
Remember, the reporter always has the last word - you don't
want a reporter bearing grudges. That also applies to reporters
of weeklies and smaller dailies- you never know where a reporter
might work in the future e.g. at the Los Angeles Times or
New York Times.
Find out the reporter's deadline, for he/she may be contacting
you for more information and you will want to respond in a
timely manner. Editors take their deadlines seriously, and
if not met, the story may not run at all. You can ask when
the reporter thinks the story will appear/be broadcast. However,
keep in mind that reporters cannot control when a story runs,
nor where (e.g. the reporter can't tell the editor to run
it on page one). Also, note that in print journalism, it is
typically an editor (not the reporter) who writes the headline
for the story. So don't blame the reporter for a headline
you don't like. Length is another thing you can't control
after an interview, for a reporter may write a three-page
feature and his/her editor may later cut it to a one-page
item. In trend pieces involving the mention of more than one
company, this sometimes means that when the story is cut,
the reference to your company is also cut.
How do you know when coverage will appear?
We work with news monitoring services which provide regular
reporting and copies of news clippings. Typically, there is
about a three-week lag time between the time the news appears
and when the agency receives it. For optimal tracking, the
agency provides the monitoring service with copies of press
releases and advises when interviews occur.
What are some typical lead times for media?
Lead times vary depending upon the type of publication
and frequency of publication. For example, the lead time could
be from one to five days for most stories being prepared for
online publications and daily newspapers. Even in those media,
however, some stories may be planned weeks in advance, perhaps
in conjunction with a trade show or other special event.
Broadcast media such as radio and television rarely commit
to coverage of a story much before the day of the news. The
airing could either be live, airing that day, or could be
taped for airing at a future date.
Lead times for magazines can be up to six months. This means
that if your story relates to the holiday season and you want
to be included in a Good Housekeeping gift giving article,
for example, the story would be developed in the first half
of the year.
What are the optimal times to release news?
Typically, breaking news is best received when released early
in the week. Exceptions to this include the Mondays of a holiday
weekend, and days when other major news is expected to be
announced. Usually news is disseminated at 8 a.m. Eastern
U.S. time, allowing journalists on both coasts timely access
to the information.
What is the timeframe for announcing a new Web site?
Make sure that your new Web site is up and running and
completely functional before inviting the media to see and
review your site. If media are invited to a site that doesn't
work, directories may refuse to link to you and pundits will
make fun of you. Note that you can have a site up and running
for a year or more before having an official launch promotion.
So make sure you have all the bugs worked out and that links
work and the home page loads quickly before inviting the media.
When do you recommend a press conference?
In general, press conferences are advised only when there
is a very significant news development. Most media prefer
to obtain their news outside of the press conference environment.
The press conference has become a dinosaur along with mass
mailings of press kits in this information age. If you must
do a press conference, note that for best attendance, include
celebrities and/or a tie-in to something else in the news
How about press kits and mass mailings?
As noted above, mass mailings of press kits are a thing of
the past. Press releases are still sent in mass mailings,
but distribution usually also includes faxing and e-mail.
Some journalists state their preference of receiving all correspondence
by e-mail. Press kits are provided to selected media by mail,
and are made available to larger numbers of media at trade
shows and special events. A growing number of media are requesting
press kits in electronic format.
At JAPR, we take the time to keep up-to-date with journalist
preferences, providing them with the information the format
What are the benefits of a media tour?
An important component of Internet and entertainment publicity
is the media tour. There are primarily two forms of these
tours: satellite media tours and a key-city tour to meet one-on-one
with key journalists in the major markets. For an interactive
campaign, the major markets of the key-city tour include New
York and San Francisco. When you participate in a media tour,
you are introduced to key media who cover your industry. As
a result of their meetings with you and our follow-up, these
journalists are more likely to include you in their stories.
The opportunity to build a one-on-one relationship is a key
factor here. So many journalists in this information age spend
their days in front of computers, often interacting with most
sources by phone and e-mail. It is helpful to them, and of
course to you, to obtain in-person time with you as a trend-setter
in your industry.
How are trade shows a part of the PR campaign?
If your company has the budget to exhibit at trade shows,
we will work with you to maximize the publicity value. Exhibiting
at the key shows relevant to your industry is an excellent
vehicle for positive exposure and growth of your company.
If your budget does not include trade show exhibits, there
are still ways to participate. We will work with you to determine
your participation in key media events as well as speaking
on panels at the trade shows and conferences. Our experience
indicates that conferences typically select panelists between
4 and 6 months ahead. Therefore, advance planning is required.
We have substantial expertise with the key media events connected
with interactive industry trade shows such as Internet World
and Comdex. Participating in these events is an excellent
way to arrange face-to-face time with key media. It is part
of your relationship building with the press. Once the media
has seen you at an event or two, you have a much better chance
of being included in roundup stories and in obtaining interviews
with the press. The cost to participate is a fraction of what
you would spend to exhibit, and you know you will receive
the attention of first-tier media who are drawn to these events.
The main purpose of attending is to spend quality time with
A-list media and analysts who cover the interactive industry.
Between 200 and 550 journalists attend each event, which includes
a full buffet and open bar.
How do you know when the media is preparing a story about
a given industry?
We subscribe to the Profnet service, which allows real-time
knowledge of what stories are being prepared by the media.
With this information in hand, we contact the journalist preparing
the story, suggesting an interview with our client.
How does a PR agency know that the media received a press
At JAPR we use comprehensive phone and e-mail follow-up after
each release goes out. Other tools include NEWSdesk, a Web-based
news release distribution and tracking service. By utilizing
this service, we know which journalists and industry analysts
have viewed your press releases.
What makes something newsworthy?
Your news must either inform, educate, or entertain and must
also be timely. For each story you plan to announce, ask yourself
why readers, listeners, or viewers would be interested in
it right now.
Some good questions to ask to determine a topic's newsworthiness
How is it different or innovative?
How will it impact the industry?
What will be the impact on the local economy?
Is it something that has never been tried or offered before?
If it's not something totally new, what is different about
How does it tie in with current developments in the news?
Is there any tie in with industry trends or with a season
What are some of the key trade shows in the interactive
CES Consumer Electronics Show
Herring on Hollywood
Internet and Electronic Commerce Conference & Exposition
Invision Awards/Insight Conference
Mifed Animation Festival
Milia: Interactive Content Marketplace
NAB 2000 - The Convergence Marketplace
NCTA Western Show
Networld + Inetrop
Variety Interactive Summit - Digitrends
World Animation Celebration
Yahoo! Internet Life Film Festival
What are some of the film festivals and film campaigns you
have handled for clients?
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
What are some of the key analyst firms involved with the
As part of your interactive publicity, JAPR will assist you
in identifying and connecting with the proper analysts who
cover your industry. One means of doing so is participation
in analyst-sponsored conferences. Other tools include individual
meetings arranged with analysts, as well as fees paid to analysts
by dot.com businesses which desire coverage.
Among the key analysts covering the interactive world: