Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis public relations’

Benefits of Media Training and Interview Tips

VideoGuyHave you ever watched an interview on TV go completely wrong? Have you felt sorry for a well-meaning spokesperson being caught completely off guard by the media?

With preparation and practice, anyone can be confident in an interview setting. Media training helps spokespeople become comfortable and effective in front of the camera or microphone. Though you may know your issue or topic, media training builds confidence and helps the spokesperson communicate the message in a concise and meaningful way.

Media training allows a spokesperson to master messaging and delivery to best present an issue and organization for television, print and radio interviews. Understanding that what works in print interviews is often quite different than what works in broadcast media, and media training focuses on the medium.

Here are some general interview techniques for all mediums:

  1. Make sure that your points are relevant to the reporter’s question.
  2. Be realistic in your answers. Look at each question from the public’s point of view.
  3. Be positive in your answers.
  4. Place your most important points at the beginning of each response where they will be clear and isolated.
  5. Short answers are better than long ones and give the interviewer less opportunity to misunderstand you.
  6. If a reporter tries to interrupt you before you have finished your response, pause, let him finish, and then continue your answer.
  7. On the other hand, if the reporter interrupts you, there may be a reason. Don’t run off with the interview: allow for plenty of give and take between yourself and the reporter.
  8. If a reporter asks several questions at once or poses several premises in asking a question, don’t let this get by. You might reply, “Well, you’ve really raised several questions there. Let me respond to your main point first, etc.” Unload the preface (“Given the bad image your industry has…”)
  9. Do not use industry terms or jargon that dehumanize your topic.
  10. Don’t let a reporter put words in your mouth. Occasionally, an interviewer will rephrase your response to a question and test it on you. It’s a good policy to answer all questions that start, “Do you mean to say. . .” with a clear concise statement of what you do mean to say.
  11. Don’t feel obliged to accept the reporter’s facts or figures. Start your response with something like, “I’m not familiar with your figures, but I’d like to respond to the main thrust of your question,” if the statistics are new to you. If you know the correct figures and the reporter is wrong, straighten it out. If the reporter is right and you know it, don’t feign ignorance.
  12. If a reporter wants information you can’t release because of clear industry policy, don’t evade. State matter-of-factly and without resentment that you can’t release it; if you are able to do so subsequently, you will. If the reporter presses, repeat yourself in a calm, polite manner. If you can explain why the information is withheld, without getting into the specifics you want to avoid, do so.
  13. If a reporter asks a question “off the record,” remember that anything you say can be used—and most likely will be. Say nothing off the record or outside the actual interview that you would not want published with direct attribution to you.
  14. Avoid phrases like, “That isn’t my area of responsibility.” If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. But always offer to find out or to put the interviewer in touch with someone who does know.
  15. Never assign blame for any situation unless there is clear industry policy on the matter. If a reporter wants to know why something has gone wrong, give the reporter information on the complexities of the situation as much as possible.
  16. Never answer a question that you don’t understand. Ask the reporter to restate it. And, if you don’t know an answer, say so. Don’t bluff.
  17. Remember that the reporter will take what you reveal in each of your answers and use it to formulate the next question. So don’t reveal more than you want to. Answer questions simply.
  18. It should be obvious: Never—absolutely never—lie to a reporter. You don’t have to expound; just be sure what you say is absolutely true.
  19. Be yourself. You are appearing not as an actor or actress, but rather as an interesting person in your own right.
  20. Do not go into a briefing with such a fixed agenda that you can’t respond to the reporter’s needs. If he or she is working on an industry wrap up or trend story, relate what you are saying to that angle. Show how your story fits into the broader picture. It is important to keep in mind that many articles focus on an industry rather than specifically on your statement. In these cases, the payoff may be in establishing you or your industry as a source, rather than your inclusion in a particular story. This is why it is not always a good idea to ask, “When will this story run?”

Stop Dissing and Dismissing Social Media


One day when I was working at a major metropolitan newspaper, the top editor caught me watching “The Simpsons” on company time.


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

No, I didn’t get fired for it, or even rebuked. Turns out I was researching a story on the then-nascent phenomenon of television networks posting entire episodes on their websites and how it and streaming services like Netflix were changing the way we watch TV.


Still, I’m sure in that moment I turned around to see him looking over my shoulder, both of us briefly thought he had encountered an employee engaged in an epic goof-off.


Unfortunately, that attitude seems to prevail in many businesses, where seeing the familiar blue highlights of Facebook on an employee’s computer screen has often been perceived as broadcasting to everyone that they’re not working — even if they’re in charge of the company’s social media presence.


Get serious about social media

A recent PR conference even featured a symposium titled, “Dispel your boss’s 3 biggest fears about workplace social media.”


If companies are ever going to get serious about using social media for outreach, then this attitude has to change. While you shouldn’t be exchanging baby photos with your sorority sisters on Instagram at work, Facebook, Twitter and similar platforms are increasingly the way people connect in our society … including how many companies acquire new clients.


Connecting with customers

As marketing professionals, we’re often tasked with monitoring a client’s social media pages or making posts to them. Because of Facebook’s page admin system, you log in via your own personal page and then switch over to various identities. However, alerts about all pages to which you have administration rights keep arriving no matter who you’re “facing” at any particular moment.


So despite the oft-heard admonishment that you “don’t do Facebook at work,” I’ve actually had days where I never turned it off, running it and other social media on tabbed Web browsers all day long!


Plenty of people also connect via professional networks and group pages on LinkedIn and other platforms. They can direct each other to a particular resource or even hash through a common shared problem.


Tips for social media success

Even seemingly boring, “non-sexy” brand names have found ways to be exciting to their audience on social media. Kevin Allen at PR Daily has a helpful infographic about how even ho-hum brands like Dockers (think “Dad pants”) can project coolness.


If your business is stuck in the Neanderthal stage of social media, Carrie Morgan of the Rock the Status Quo blog has a list of three five-minute tasks you can undertake to add value to your social media status or your client’s.


They include:

  • Share releases on LinkedIn
  • Share company newsletters on Facebook
  • Comment on noteworthy articles online


Need help with your social media presence? We’re here for you!


Give Audiences the News They Want


The word “newsroom” may give people the thought of a room of editors and reporters hustling and bustling to get the latest breaking news and convey a variety of stories to their viewers or readers via one publication or station.


Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

When it comes to an online newsroom, however, your corporation or organization needs to make sure to focus on multiple audience interests.


It’s a one-stop-shop for ANYONE, not just the media, to learn everything they need to know about your business. So make sure all your different audiences get what they want.


Steps to building an effective newsroom

In his article, Jon Bernstein says, “Building an effective brand newsroom isn’t about creating the next big phenomenon. It’s about consistently giving an audience what it wants.”


Here are some ways to do so:

  1. Define your audience. Create a persona of your ideal customer. Every time you produce a piece of content, consider what angle best suits his or her needs.
  2. Establish an editorial proposition. Provide information that is useful and valuable to your target audience. Don’t just talk about your own brand.
  3. Find your tone of voice. Being relaxed, informal and direct works well, especially when working across multiple channels.
  4. Establish no-go areas. Define up front the subject areas you are willing to write about and those you should avoid.
  5. Be ready to react to breaking news. You must be able to publish and distribute content on the fly with skill, confidence and authority. You also must know which medium will work best.


How to design an online newsroom

Then, what are the basics that must be included in an effective online newsroom? Jackson Wightman shares some of the elements in his article for PR Daily.


  • Make media contact details obvious. There should be a person who is listed as the point of contact. This should be above the fold and highlighted.
  • Link to news releases and media coverage. This provides an out for journalists in a hurry who may not be able to speak with your company’s or client’s executives.
  • Include a media backgrounder. Have a least one backgrounder on the company and one on a new line, product or service you’re launching.
  • Include executive bios. Some press segments will want to know about the bosses. Be safe and include these.
  • Be social. Your newsroom should have clear social media links. Brands may also embed widgets to display the latest social status updates.
  • Multimedia content is a MUST! This can make or break your newsroom. Have hi- and Web-res photos, along with videos, audio recordings and logos.
  • Show off case studies. Why not show interested media how you’ve helped clients overcome their problems?
  • Display blog content on the homepage. Feature relevant, popular blogs on your newsroom homepage.
  • Make it all searchable. Media are time-crunched. They will abandon ship if they can’t find what they want.
  • Optimize around keywords. The online newsroom offers a chance to optimize content based on keywords.


If you build it, they will come

According to the 2013 newsroom report, “How the World’s Top 100 Brands Are Using Online Newsrooms to Tell Their Stories,” noted in this article by Lisa Buyer, 98 percent of brands report they have an online newsroom. But 35 percent fail to keep news up to date.


The online newsroom is a great opportunity to tap into all the quality content that can add value to media as well as potential customers and clients. And we have a team to make your online newsroom the best it can be!


Walk with Olivia Newton-John and Colts’ Chuck Pagano!



You’re the one that I want! Star of the movie musical “Grease,” Grammy award winner Olivia Newton-John is getting her walking shoes ready for a special event taking place in downtown Indianapolis.


Newton-John will join Indianapolis Head Coach Chuck Pagano and his wife Tina to lead the Pink and Blue for Two “walk within the Mini-Marathon” on May 3.


They will take part in the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K and walk to raise awareness for Pink and Blue for Two. The Coles team is helping promote the event and the cause with Newton-John’s nephew, Emerson, a race car driver.


Pink and Blue for Two’s mission is threefold:

  • Raise awareness of both breast and prostate cancers and their similarities
  • Urge couples and family members to remind one another of annual screenings
  • Educate people on the importance of overall mind, body and spirit wellness


Coach Pagano was forced to take a leave of absence from the Indianapolis Colts after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow cells. He beat cancer after treatment and grueling rounds of chemotherapy.


“When I was approached to take part in the Pink and Blue for Two Walk in Indy, I was honored,” Pagano said. “With the support of my family, the team and fans everywhere, I beat cancer. The Pink and Blue for Two campaign embraces that spirit.”


“I am thrilled to have Coach Chuck and his wife Tina leading the Pink and Blue for Two Walk,” Newton-John said. “We cannot think of a better Indy-based couple to lead this walk with us representing Pink and Blue. We hope the city and its loyal NFL fans embrace Pink and Blue for Two and will stand with us together to bring the desperately-needed attention to the ‘blue’ (prostate) side of the campaign.”


Want to take part in the walk and join Olivia and Chuck to raise awareness? Sign up today for the Pink and Blue for Two Walk here!


Like Pink and Blue for Two on Facebook and follow on Twitter. For more information on the organization, visit


Step out and join the cause on May 3, 2014. Screen Together. Live Together!




INDATA Project Shares Disability Awareness Message



The INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads is a Coles client and provides information and access to assistive technology, at no charge, for Hoosiers with disabilities.


Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the capabilities of people with disabilities.


With March as Disability Awareness Month, INDATA continues to share its message with individuals with disabilities and their families throughout the state of Indiana.


INDATA’s core services include:

  • Information and referrals
  • Funding assistance
  • Public awareness and education
  • Device demonstration
  • Device loans
  • Device reutilization


“Ensuring individuals with disabilities and their families are aware of the full array of resources available to increase their independence is critically important,” said INDATA Director Wade Wingler. “The INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads is committed to participating in disability awareness activities throughout the month of March. We want to share our message of how assistive technology tools can make an enormous difference in the lives of people with disabilities of all ages.”


INDATA also provides low-interest, extended rate financial loans to qualified individuals through the Alternative Financing Program (AFP).


The loans are used to purchase assistive technology devices such as:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Motorized scooters
  • Hearing aids
  • Augmentative communication devices
  • Braille equipment
  • Computers
  • Motor vehicle/home modifications


How can you learn more about INDATA? Visit Each Monday, INDATA produces a new assistive technology video on its YouTube Channel.


INDATA produces two weekly podcasts — Assistive Technology Update and Accessibility Minute. Check them out!


They also operate a 24/7 resource for assistive technology information on Assistive Technology Radio. Listen now!



How to Navigate Social Negativity



It’s something most of us have dealt with at one time or another — negative coverage about you and your business. But how do you respond, particularly when it relates to social media? Or do you respond at all?


Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

How you and your company handle negative posts and comments on social media can determine the future of your business and its reputation.


Think before you tweet

Maybe you posted a comment on your social media profile without really thinking how offensive it was. Take former PR executive Justine Sacco for example. Her thoughtless tweet about AIDS in Africa cost Sacco her job.


As stated in a CNN article, “The incident was a glaring reminder that every word uttered on the Internet can be heard by seemingly everyone on the Internet, sometimes with serious consequences.”


Maybe you had really … REALLY … bad timing. After the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon, cooking site Epicurious promoted some recipes on Twitter. “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!” Needless to say, the line was crossed.


Then there’s just bad planning. Home Depot posted a tweet to promote College GameDay. It didn’t take long for the Twitterverse to note the extremely offensive — and racist — tweet, which said, “Which drummer is not like the others?” “Ignorant oversight or not,” said a Digiday article, “brands should know by now that they should avoid ever tweeting anything that has even the slightest chance of being interpreted as racist.”


Handling the negativity

Justine Sacco apologized in a written statement and deleted her Twitter account. Epicurious removed the offensive tweet but then went days without tweeting. Home Depot deleted the tweet, called it “stupid” and apologized.


How should your business respond without letting the negative situation get out of control? Here are tips from Dorothy Crenshaw at PR Daily:

  1. Do respond. Often, a lack of response is seen as a validation of the criticisms or, at best, an information vacuum. The sooner the response, the easier it will be to control the situation.
  2. Don’t dignify baseless rumors. One exception to the above is the case of an unsubstantiated rumor, where you risk calling more attention to it by responding.
  3. Let your advocates defend you. If you have trusted clients or customers willing to comment in your defense, let them. The essence of reputation is what others say about you in public.
  4. Don’t overreact. It’s natural to feel emotional or defensive when attacked. If you can’t be objective, seek objective advice.
  5. Ask for equal time. Most legitimate websites or news sources will give you the opportunity to respond to a questionable story or comment. Where details are wrong, your smartest approach is to calmly insist on your right to set the record straight.
  6. Use objective facts and figures. A convincing response usually involves statistics or objective facts and cites sources. Where possible, quote third parties.
  7. If you’re at fault, apologize. If your company made a mistake, admit it and offer a prompt, sincere apology. Take responsibility. Then, take steps to fix the situation or make amends.
  8. Look for the opportunities. Public criticism can be a gift in disguise. Think about whether it could be an opportunity to remedy a problem or improve your business.


Accentuate the positive
“Negative reviews can function as a modern-day comment box and provide you with valuable information and insight on how you can improve,” said Matthew Peneycad of RGB Social.


And leaving negative comments, instead of deleting them, shows your company’s willingness to be transparent with consumers. This will lead to increased trust, a more legitimate brand and a more loyal following in the future.



Get FREE Tax Prep Services!


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began accepting tax returns on January 31 — the 2014 tax season has officially begun.


It’s a season of heartache and headache for many people. And the process can become only more painful if you delay filing your taxes until the last minute.


So do you qualify for FREE tax preparation services? If you made $58,000 or less in 2013, you just may!


Indy Free Tax Prep wants to help prepare your taxes. Indy Free Tax Prep is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) IRS program. In 2013, more than 6,000 tax returns were prepared for Indianapolis residents at no cost through this effort, resulting in more than $7.2M in tax refunds.


In order to qualify for free tax prep services, you must be able to provide all of the following information:

  • Valid picture ID
  • Social Security cards or ITIN cards for all persons on return
  • Copy of last year’s tax return (not required, but helpful)
  • W-2 forms for all employment during 2013
  • Interest and dividend statements
  • All 1099 forms received, including 1099 SSA from the Social Security Administration and unemployment statements
  • Education expense receipts and 1098 form
  • Child care receipts, along with provider’s address and Social Security number/employer identification number
  • Real estate property tax receipts
  • Landlord name and address
  • Bank routing number and account number for direct deposit


Taxpayers receive 100% of their refunds with no fees or interest charged.


Since 2009, Coles Marketing has been helping to promote the VITA program in Indianapolis. For more information, visit


Find a site near you by calling 2-1-1 or checking the website. Also, “like” the Indy Free Tax Prep Facebook page at and “follow” on Twitter at



Coloring Your Reaction to Marketing



When it comes to colors, I admit to being a stereotypical guy: I don’t really pay much attention.


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

Ask me to name the eye color of someone I interact with daily, and I’ll probably be stumped. When it comes to clothes, I dress from the ground up, picking from a small rotation of shoes, then selecting pants that match them, and finally a shirt that (I hope) goes with the rest.


But like a lot of people who don’t consciously spend a lot of brain power on color, we’re all subtly influenced by hue in most everything we see. And that includes marketing and advertising.


See it, feel it

The Logo Company has a terrific guide to how people react psychologically to color in logo design:


Yellow – Clarity and warmth (Brand examples: Best Buy, Subway)

Orange – Cheerful and confident (Fanta, Nickelodeon)

Red – Youthful and bold (Target, Nintendo)

Purple – Imaginative and wise (T-Mobile, Taco Bell)

Blue – Dependable and strong (Dell, Lowe’s)

Green – Growth and health (Whole Foods, Publix)

Gray – Calm (Apple, Hyundai)


As a result, it’s not surprising to find many medical/health companies utilizing blue in their marketing, while many oil and energy companies pick green to connote a sense of being friendly to the environment.


How to leverage the luminosity

Leo Widrich of Buffer has a good roundup on PR Daily about how best to leverage color in marketing. For example, if you’re pitching mainly to a female audience, favor purple and avoid gray, according to KISSmetrics. For men, try black and downplay purple. Both genders like blue and green, and both dislike brown and orange.


All this may sound like a bunch of hooey, but studies have proven the effect of color on marketing choices. HubSpot ran an experiment to see if the color of a button would affect conversion rates, and discovered that a red button got 21 percent more clicks than the same one in green.


Of course, color has less of an effect on certain people. Roughly eight percent of men have some degree of color blindness, and 0.5 percent of women. Mark Zuckerberg famously chose blue as the dominant shade for Facebook because that’s the color he sees best, being red-green colorblind.


Hue you gonna call?

At Coles Marketing, we have an experienced team of graphic and Web designers who know all about how color fits into brand strategy. Let us find the right shade for your marketing outreach!


BBB Warns of Cell Phone Scam

Logo for ColesBetter Business Bureaus across the country, including Coles’ client BBB serving Central Indiana, are seeing a rash of the “One Ring Scam” on cell phones. Returning a missed call from an unknown phone number might be tempting, but it could cost you.


Here is how the scam works:

  • Your phone rings once or twice and — with most phones having Caller ID — the number will show as “unknown” or a long distance area code you’re not familiar with on the screen.
  • By the time you answer it, no one is on the other end of the phone and they will not leave a voicemail. So, you may try calling back, only to find no one is answering or there is only noise on the other end.


It’s called the “One Ring Scam,” and it is part of a practice called phone cramming.


Cell phone plans are billed through automation and usage on both incoming and outgoing calls. You are recognized if you answer the call, and a billing statement is passed through from the service provider on the other end of the line.


The scammers count on the fact that consumers don’t always look closely at their monthly statements, which may include a premium rate of $19.95 plus international fees. Or if they do review their statements, consumers might assume the charges are legitimate.


Several Better Business Bureaus are reporting this is happening to consumers, and the number shows up as unknown or an international phone number. Victims have reported calls originating from the Caribbean Islands, like Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands.


If you think you’re a victim of the scam, immediately notify your cell phone provider, and keep an eye on your phone bill. The earlier the fraud is documented, the better your chances are for having some or all of the charges removed.


To find out more about scams and to read up on the latest, check out BBB Scam Stopper.


Start with someone you can trust. Visit Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana at



#TheBigGame Keeps #Connecting

It’s been weeks since The Big Game graced the main screens of our homes with football fanaticism, finger foods and family fun.


Alan Schoff

Alan Schoff

This year more than any year, it was a good thing the event was not just about the game.


So many revelers were done with the sport of it all by halftime (including the Denver Broncos). What kept tens of millions of viewers milling around during such a blowout? The entertainment of the halftime show and the advertisements, of course!


Second screens, first impressions

But it was also those second screens — the computers or mobile devices in viewers’ hands during the game — that carried the The Big Game’s mega-marketing machine. Turns out, the second screen makes it more than just a one-day event for marketers.


Of the social media brands, Twitter came out on top as the most-used platform during and after the game. Brands used hashtags on 57% of the prime-time ads, while their Web addresses only appeared in 43%.


What has become the biggest advertising bonanza on TV is also the biggest real-time advertising event of the year. Beyond the mentions on social media, the advertising has lingering effects.


A Forbes blogger shares the “7 Super Bowl XLVIII Commercials That Won The Internet” based on mentions during the game as measured by SAP Social Analytics by Netbase. By that standard, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” won the most attention by far. The other six are Coca Cola, Microsoft, Doritos, Chrysler, Radio Shack and then Intuit QuickBooks. You can view the entire selection of TV ads here at AdAge.


But there are other ways to measure advertisers’ success. For one thing, nearly all the ads had pre-game play on the Internet. That’s when they enjoyed triple the sharing power than during the game itself.


Beyond The Big Game

There is also data about the lingering effects and continuing engagement with the ads after the game. That’s where Chevrolet achieved the greatest impact across all of its social communities between the Sunday game day and the following Tuesday, while Coca Cola added the most fans and followers to its already massive number of adoring consumers.


But if you are looking at lift in consumer purchase consideration, Chevrolet and Coke didn’t even make the list. The top five advertisers with a post-game increase in purchase consideration were M&M’s, Jeep, Audi, Hyundai and Doritos.


The second-screen action before, during and after the game is keeping brand awareness lit up. In fact, some of the biggest winners of social engagement didn’t advertise during the game.


Esurance waited until after the game to promote its $1.5 million giveaway, which was the money it saved by waiting to run its spot. People were required to tweet the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag to enter. Within a minute, 200,000 people had tweeted entries. Over the next 36 hours of the contest, 5.4 million tweets had been entered.


Advertising without advertising

Non-advertiser Newcastle Brown Ale received more than five million views of its YouTube Non-Commercial for The Big Game. And non-advertiser J.C. Penney was the second-most-tweeted brand during the game. J.C. Penney used a #TweetingWithMittens stunt that almost backfired as the retailer’s tweets appeared to be from a drunken writer. But some quick thinking to reveal the campaign hashtag salvaged the potential image damage and rewarded the brand with social success. (Unfortunately, that social media success wasn’t able to save the 33 stores scheduled to close.)


At the end of the game, there is no one measure of success. Sometimes there may even be better ways to engage your audience on the second screen than even the main screen, especially if the game is a blowout.


Inspired to delve into a new social media or advertising campaign? Give us a call at Coles Marketing for a digital-age, #IntegratedMarketing partner.