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Best of: Just the facts … no, these facts

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from July 2008. We welcome your feedback.

By Leo Valiquette

In my years as a journalist I endured my fair share of embarrassing gaffes, both my own and those of my staff (which I was often on the hook to explain, apologize for and redress.)

Despite the emphasis on clean, factual and reliable content, the occasional mistake is made in the newspaper business. Nobody’s perfect and the strain of rushing to meet a deadline can easily lead one to skip out on taking the time to check the facts through a second time.

Of course, it’s difficult to feel all that sympathetic about the plight of harried reporters when it’s your good name that’s attached to the error. Maybe they called your CEO Rob when his name is Rod. Or said your flagship product is still in trials when it has been commercially available for six months. There are the little things that don’t matter so much, such as whether your company was founded in 1989 or 1990, or the big whammies that can land you in a lawsuit — like that defamatory off-the-cuff remark that was never intended to be on the record.

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You just never know where a story is going to stick

By Leo Valiquette

Last week, I spoke about how many PR practitioners fear to pick up the phone or otherwise attempt to engage with media beyond simply hitting “send” on a media release.

I want to follow up by emphasizing that, for a PR program to be effective, it must be consistent, persistent and applied over a period of many moons and fiscal quarters. Because, frankly, there is no telling where a story may stick or when a notable journalist may come out of the woodwork asking for the perspective of your organization’s brain trust on some timely and relevant issue.

Public relations or, to be more precise for our purposes here, media relations, can be broken into two general categories. First, there is the transactional effort, where the goal is to get media to pick up on a breaking news item that doesn’t have much of a shelf life. The second is building a rolodex factor by positioning your organization, or key individuals within your organization, as go-to resources the media can rely on for comment and insight on specific subjects.

These two categories are not silos. Every time you reach out to a journalist the effort contributes to building that rolodex factor, even if the justification for your call is a news item that will be as stale as month-old bread by tomorrow.

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Content is the sun around which all else revolves

By Francis Moran

Over the past several years, the way in which I describe what we do on the PR side of the house has really changed. For most of its 14 years, inmedia Public Relations was a very sharply focused proposition: We did media and analyst relations and not much else. And we did it for B2B technology companies, and nobody else. That last part hasn’t changed much; the only clients who really interest us are those working in knowledge-intensive or technology applications. And our mastery of the unique challenges of addressing enterprise marketplaces or selling into the value chain as opposed to marketing an end product means our value proposition remains focused on B2B.

What we do for our clients, however, has evolved in tune with the shifting landscape we have been presented with. And the evolution has been so natural that we really didn’t notice we had a new service offering until long after we had started to successfully deliver it.

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Don’t spit your PR effort into the wind

By Leo Valiquette

Monday was a snow day across the Ottawa region, or, to be more precise, an ice rain day.

That left tens of thousands of kids with a bonus day off from school and parents tasked with finding alternative care arrangements. Many no doubt conceded defeat and took the day off rather than endure a hellish morning commute.

Today is another challenging one for parents. Elementary teachers with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board are on a one-day walkout to protest the Ontario government’s Bill 115. Their action impacts almost 50,000 students.

Of the two events, the walkout should be the less disruptive. It does, after all, impact only elementary schools and only one of the Ottawa area’s school boards. Parents were also given five days advance notice.

Our fickle winter weather is seldom so accommodating.

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You don’t have sources anymore, you have clients

By Leo Valiquette

There’s a quote that I am fond of from journalist and author Gene Fowler, who passed in 1960:

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

I could only wonder what he would say if he were alive today about making a living from writing. Content is king. It is fresh and original content, as Katie Parsons wrote the other day, which remains the strongest draw to pull in readers. And yet, we live in this contradictory age in which the ability of almost anyone to easily and affordably be a global producer and distributor of content has undermined the definition of what constitutes quality content and fostered a growing disrespect for the time and craftsmanship required to produce it.

Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly believe that a quality writer has a substantial advantage in today’s marketplace by virtue of the fact that their skillset is the basis of a premium service that is highly transferable between disciplines. The classic example is the journalist who jumps the fence into other fields, such as public relations or marketing.

I use this example because I live it. After working for eight years as a business journalist and editor, I made the leap into a PR/marketing role. Here are my lessons learned along the way.

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Recent Comments

  • Francis Moran : I'm so glad to see you warming to this idea, Luc. Not that you were ever one of those mindless critics who automatically opposed the proposal; you were properly skeptical and demanding that it contain more of what folks like you and I believed was necessary for success. Looks like the city is listening.

  • Luc Lalande : Hi Francis, thank you for the steady and keen eye on the development of this important project for the City. I share your view that open spaces in the building’s design will be critical components for encouraging spontaneous interactions between people. Integrating such spaces in the Innovation Complex sends the right signals to the community-at-large and not just the local startup ecosystem: everyone is welcomed! With respect to Patti’s comments about the arts sector, it would be worth bringing back to light that the Hintonburg-Mechanicsville area has emerged as the first Arts District in the City of Ottawa, housing many artist studios, performing arts studios, and media groups. While the 7 Bayview located Innovation Complex may cater to the entrepreneurial set, there is still considerable property on these lands that could, one day, be developed and capitalize on the area’s sizable artistic community. But perhaps the open spaces at the Innovation Complex can be equally accommodating for anyone who embraces creativity and entrepreneurship: artists and innovators alike.

  • How can we foster culture of entrepreneurship? | Waterloo Innovation Summit : [...] Velocity also provides hands-on workshops for anyone at the University to learn about becoming a successful entrepreneur, and awards over $300,000 per year through the Velocity Fund to promising early startups, to help launch their success financially. We keep finding really good problems that are worthy of solving and that we think we’d be good at solving. - Mike Kirkup, Director of Velocity and Student Innovation Waterloo’s Velocity accelerator is 5, and growing fast [...]

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