Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Using the power of the mass media

Hi everyone,
this is Heidi Alexandra Pollard, The Communicators' Coach from picturesque Lake Macquarie and I thought I would share with you a story from a well known US PR guy Paul Hartunian.
Here's what Paul had to say about the power of mass media:
"When I sent out my press releases about the Brooklyn Bridge, I knew I was onto something big. I knew I had a great story and I was sure that the media was going to pick it up and run with it.
What I didn't know was just how big the publicity was going to be!
I didn't just get calls from newspapers and radio stations in New Jersey and New York. I was doing interviews with news organizations around the world.
I spoke to reporters at outlets I'd never heard of.

I only knew two things knew about these media organizations:
1 - they were going to give me sales - and I certainly hadn't sent them a press release.
2 - That second point made me think.
If I hadn't sent them a press release how did these newspapers and radio stations get hold of me?

The answer was obvious: they'd seen the story on the news, just like everyone else!
Without a doubt, one of the most amazing things about publicity is that when you have a good story for the media, there's no telling where you'll end up. You could send out a fax release to your town newspaper and the next day, you could get a call from Oprah Winfrey inviting you on her show.The reason is simple. Reporters are desperate for stories.

They have to put out their publication or show every day or every week without fail. And each edition has to be packed with interesting information. They can't just say, "Well heck, it's been a quiet week this week, let's cut twenty minutes from the show."

It just doesn't work that way. Whatever happens - or doesn't happen - reporters and editors have to produce exactly the same amount of information in each edition or each program.

That's why the story on that press release can end up circling the world before you know it.
"You can read all about Paul's Brooklyn Bridge adventure at: New Year everyone
Cheers and Happy New Year from
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators' Coach

Sunday, December 28, 2008

When's the last time you wrote a press release?

A new social marketing and information network (SNOBS) started by a Novacastrian colleague of mine from Australia is powering along on the world wide web.

This recent article titled "When's the last time you wrote a press release?" will be of interest to this blog community. The article includes a simple step by step how to guide for writing a release.

Oh and its a good reminder for those of us in the industry to remember to use this mechanism ourselves - too often we forget to promote our own company and work too!

To read more visit

Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators' Coach

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bring on the warmer weather and a healthy dose of optimism

Boy hasn't this year has flown by faster than ever!

It has certainly had its challenges with stock market fluctuations, interest rate rises and the retail sector experiencing the strain of consumers reigning in their spending. However I truly believe that the businesses that succeed in the long run take an optimistic attitude to the economy. I am confident that this is a wonderful time to be alive and those that triumph through the difficult times and continue marketing and use this opportunity to highlight their benefits to potential clients and customers will continue to flourish and prosper.

I am reminded of a story…
A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying,
“Situation hopeless. Stop. No one wears shoes.”
The other writes back triumphantly,
“Glorious business opportunity. Stop. They have no shoes.”
To the marketing expert who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness. To his colleague, the same conditions point to abundance and possibility.

It is in times of doom, gloom and budget slashing that we as marketing and communication professionals, by taking a strategic approach, can help our organizations progress in leaps and bounds. After all you become what you think about most of the time, so focus on where you are going and the strategic vision ahead.

Personally I am feeling very excited about the possibilities and opportunities that the 2009 will bring.

How are you remaining focused and positive? I would love to hear your stories – email me at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How brands work in the digital world

For those of you based on the East Coast of NSW Australia you may be interested in attending the next Professional Communicators' Network event.

Date – Friday 24 October 2008
Time – 8m – 9amEnigmaCorp’s brand new offices 37 Bolton Street, Newcastle (across the road from the Newcastle Herald).
Topic: ‘How brands work in the digital world’
Presenters - Ian Bennett and Karen Fitzpatrick of Enigma
RSVP - by emailing
For more information on the network visit
I hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Media Relations: why it's become the most criticised aspect of public relations

Earlier this month I came across an article that sparked a debate in my office about the value of media relations and whether we have it right or not. A presentation later in the week from media trainer Jen Fleming confirmed my instincts - it is imperative that PR people build relationships with editors, journalists and producers and understand the market and their interests before clicking send on the media release email. Here's a snippet from the article in PR Influences that got us talking:

Here’s some reasons why media relations always seems to be in the spotlight when the role of public relations is on the agenda.
1. Organisations and their management don’t understand the media.
Management often fails to recognise that media are a distinct, and quirky, audience. Media’s most important self-belief is ‘independence’. Their most common trait is being cynical. In the main they are suspicious of business. They are not there to publish good news. They cannot be ‘sold’ to, or communicated with as you would with other audiences. Above all editorial media coverage can never be guaranteed - and if you are lucky enough to get some then you can’t bank on everything you said being used. If you want control, buy advertising space or time.
2. PR people oversell media relations.
PR people often emphasise their knowledge of, and contacts with, media. What the most experienced PR people know is that this only gives them access - it doesn’t necessarily convert to coverage. Also there’s an awful lot of legwork that has to be done when dealing with media. But combine a slightly exaggerated sales pitch from PR with management’s naivety about media and the result is that there’s a level of expectation by management that is often misplaced. It can be a recipe for some serious misunderstandings!

3. Working with the media isn’t a science
There’s nothing certain or predictable about media. They all aim to reach different readers, listeners or viewers and this impacts on how they each of them handles ‘news’. Look at the four daily newspapers that are read in Sydney each day and see how different items are treated. What can be news one day, can be rejected the next. A journalist can work on a story and file it because he/she feels is important (or has been assigned to do it), but it may never be used for a host of internal media considerations. While it’s important to have a media relations function, and work diligently at it, in many instances media coverage can come down to sheer luck.

4. Modern communications means it’s too easy to send material to the media.
Years ago getting something to the right person within media was an art. It took knowledge and contacts - and the release had to be physically delivered. Today it’s much too easy to reach journalists by a click. Specialist organisations sell media databases that allow media releases to be sent instantly - and anonymously to hundreds of media outlets (and individual journalists). As a result media releases have become a commodity. Many organisations think of media releases as they do direct mail and distribute them like confetti. They work on the principle that if they send out 100 media releases they might get five who find it of interest. That’s not media relations and it only sours media who get so much rubbish that the genuinely interesting material that is sent electronically gets lost.

5. Media is under so much pressure these days.
Media is a business sector that is having its share of challenges too. Almost in all forms of media there have been staff cut-backs; and the use of new electronic tools is changing the way media work. These days few journalists can afford to be away from their desks for long. The practice of attending lunches, functions, launches and briefings is under pressure. It accounts for the fact that increasingly there are ‘no-shows’ by journalists at events they have previously committed to. This means that PR people have to adapt to the changing circumstances and be smarter in how they handle media relations. It means that it’s getting harder - not easier - to achieve results in media relations, and this is against the backdrop of unrealistic expectations from management to begin with.

All of the above is not to say that media relations -from the point of view of both an organisation and media they deal with - is not successful in many instances. This is typically when an organisation has an enlightened, and realistic, perspective with good management and savvy PR people (whether internal or from an agency) guiding the relationship.
But with an increasing number of organisations now committing to using public relations and spreading media releases like confetti to an already over-stretched media, it is likely that media relations will remain the subject of much debate for some time to come.

What do you think? Do you have good relations and create fabulous releases that are both newsy and relevant to their target audience or are you too sending out a stream of endless confetti?

Until next time
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators' Coach

Friday, June 6, 2008

Marketing through mass email

I came across an interesting article this week on what's making it possible for email marketing to finally deliver on its promise of relevant, one-to-one communications. The article and my own experience shows that email marketing has become one of the most valuable and best performing marketing channels today.

Email campaign management is one of the top six investment areas for senior marketers in 2008 (CMO Council's "Marketing Outlook 2008").

Email marketing is evolving toward true relevance as the most savvy marketers move from one-to-many, or broadcast email tactics, to establishing one-to-one relationships with customers and prospects. This means that "less is more" will become the norm for email marketing -- soon there will be fewer, more targeted and more relevant email messages -- a growing trend that benefits marketers, businesses and consumers.
This trend is due in large part to the emergence of email automation.

To read more visit
Heidi Alexandra Pollard - The Communicators' Coach

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Brand damage - what to do?

Those of you with responsibility for maintaining your company's brand platform take note!

A 26 year old artist named Nadia Plesner has been sued by Louis Vuitton for brand jacking their famous purses in a anti-genocide campaign. Nadia used the brand to strategically make a point that the media cares more about Paris Hilton and high fashion than the genocide in the nation of Darfur.

Nadia said: “My illustration Simple Living is an idea inspired by the medias constant cover of completely meaningless things. My thought was: Since doing nothing but wearing designerbags and small ugly dogs appearantly is enough to get you on a magasine cover, maybe it is worth a try for people who actually deserves and needs attention.
When we’re presented with the same images in the media over and over again, we might start to believe that they’re important. If you can’t beat them, join them. This is why I have chosen to mix the cruel reality with showbiz elements in my drawing.”

Luxury brands certainly have teams of brand police within their marketing departments to ensure their products aren’t being misplaced or improperly positioned, and took action this time by sending Nadia a cease and desist letter.

Louis Vuitton's
response is pretty standard and expected, to protect the image and brand that they’ve been working to build. What to do? Continue the legal path and settle with Nadia? Join the campaign and do some work to help raise funds or promote the cause? Walk away and let the dust simple settle - PR practitioners are probably thinking right now that perhaps they are doing the brand more damage?

Or perhaps as John Bell suggests, divert the attention “What they could do is work with Nadia and other artists to host discussions about media focus. They could partner with a neutral party like my friends at to steward the conversation. Keep the discussion away from luxury brands (which is not Nadia’s point anyhow). LV can become part of the solution without taking on the brunt of an issue they do not own.” Good point John.

So, what do you think LV should do? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators' Coach

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Online addiction!

Did you know that studies are showing that Aussies are spending more time online than watching TV!

You might be surprised but I am not. For the past few years I haven't had a television and now find that apart from breakfast radio I find out what I need to know about what's happening in the world as well as get my entertainment from my trusty laptop.

According to the latest Nielsen Online poll Australians are spending around 13.7 hours per week surfing the net, while average TV viewing time was about 13.3 hours per week.

The results are part of the 10th Australian Internet and Technology Report which looks at the profile of internet users, online behaviours, ownership of technologies and media consumption habits.The report revealed an increase in cross media consumption, with more than half of Australia’s internet users (58%) saying they have watched TV while online and 48% have used the internet while listening to the radio.

“This means that in recent years Australians have been increasingly consuming more than one medium at a time, commonly resulting in a fragmented span of attention. While use of the internet continued to grow this year, for the first time ever this was not accompanied by an increase for TV consumption – a possible early warning sign that we are approaching the feared media saturation point,” Tony Marlow, associate research director, Asia Pacific for Nielsen Online said.

On average, Australians are spending 84.4 hours per week across a range of media and leisure activities, up from 71.4 hours in the previous 12 months. WOW - isn't that huge!

Until next time online...
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators' Coach

Friday, April 18, 2008

Online media - don't be left behind

Dear fellow communicators
I was reading a colleagues blog today and he had posted an interesting article titled "Take a close look at your communications" - read it yourself at .

It reminded me of a great channel on YouTube about online marketing that has been getting tens of thousands of hits. If you haven't already it is worth a look - it is hosted by Charles Lewis and he does rap videos about his favourite topics. Yeah I know sounds kind of bizarre but once I got into them I found them not only fun and entertaining but really rather helpful and informative.

For example he has videos on search engine optimisation - one for example - Paid Search 101 includes lyrics such as:
Research all your key words
And your phrases
They all sound good
But they may not be effective
There's several ways to check
I prefer WordTracker

Short and snappy and filled with simple tips for improving your online marketing - check it out!
Yours in prosperity, passion and purpose
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Communicators' Coach

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is it time to brand YOU?

When Tom Peters first wrote about branding yourself it was revolutionary and cool. Today it is a necessity if you want to succeed in the corporate world.

Like a plumber with a leaky tap, as a professional communicators you too can get so caught up in doing what you do that you can forget to apply all that great knowledge you have to your brand and career.

As a communicator and marketer being bland is NOT a way to stand out and sizzle as a model of what you teach. If you really want to boost your career and be an expert in your field, then you can’t be passive. You MUST be able to stand behind your personal brand without fear or embarrassment.

In a conversation I had recently with one of my wonderful coaching clients, she discovered that she had such a strong fear of other people judging her. Her need for approval was such that she wasn’t being her authentic self and certainly wasn’t living her personal brand and being visible.

Coaching around this was fun and enlightening! We discussed her strengths, her target market and what she wanted to really be known for. In particular, we took time to explore the language she used to describe herself when meeting others as well as the self-talk going on in her head.

What she came to realise was that she was trying to be everything to everyone and in the meantime was draining all her own energy. PHEW! The relief on her face was visible when she made the decision to focus in on her personal brand, to allow herself to be what she wanted to be and to form new brand messages for herself. The result was a refreshed, congruent and confident woman, with a newly refined career objective and a new personal brand image.

So do yourself a favour and take a moment now to pause and reflect…
Are you happy with your personal and professional life?
What’s missing? What do you really want to be doing?
What are you putting off?
What getting in your way of you doing and being all that you want?
Are you letting others tell you where your career is going or are you being bold and developing your own unique brand?

Take the effort to explore where you're selling yourself short and enjoy the freedom that being YOU will bring.

Click This Link To Play My Special Audio Tip to Help You Boost YOUR Career!

Yours in prosperity, passion and purpose
Heidi Alexandra Pollard

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Boosting your online search results

Greetings Communicators
The power of the web is unlimited and getting yourself or your company known doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Years ago most localy based businesses relied on a listing in the local Yellow and White Pages but today your opportunities for reach are exponentially increased if you go online. Local search research by Kelsey Group found that 70 per cent of online searchers used local search to find offline businesses. So it is more important than ever to be visible for local online search engines by getting listed in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and other search engines and directories such as Yellow Pages.
If you haven't taken advantage of online promotion yet here's some tips to boost your online search results. this online local directory also includes city guides and user reviews. Search options include local city and state, category and keyword search. Businesses can get a free basic listing. The advantage is the huge exposure -- up to 34 million unique visitors each month. free basic listings are available here also with your company name, address, phone number, website URL and a brief description.
Google Product Search: Local merchants can get free listings on Google's free product search engine.
Free Yahoo local listing: consists of a profile listing basic company information.
Free Google maps listings: list your business in Google Maps by going to Google's Local Business Center, where you'll find information for creating your free listing.
So get online, get noticed and boost your company's online search results!
Until next time, yours in prosperity, passion and purpose
Heidi Alexandra Pollard, The Professional Communicators' Coach

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Greening your brand article

Greetings friends - today I thought I would share with you a recent article by Matt Heinz titled "10 ways to "green" your brand".

I myself am leading a rebranding exercise for a large government agency at the moment so I found this article very timely and relevant. In essence Matt outlines that making your brand more environmentally friendly can add market share, cut costs and make your CFO very happy. He then goes on to give the how including how green aware consumers, audiences and the general public now are and the fact that they are increasingly interested in protecting our environment and reducing its collective carbon footprint.

To read more about Matt 's 10 ways to green your brand including recycling, power management and community participation visit:
All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard
The Professional Communicators Coach