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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

Long live local news

Posted: December 24, 2010 - 12:52 PM ET - by Ritz

This week we give AIRtime to colleague Carrie Sessine.

Long live local news

I’ve always loved local news … the daily newspaper that was delivered in the afternoon (as it was then), the weekly community paper (that I delivered for 2¢ a paper) and the broadcast news at 5. By reading and paying attention to the news I felt part of the community and in the know about what was happening in the world.

But for some time I’ve wondered about the value of local news both as a consumer and a public relations professional. Typically, the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. news broadcasts are “old news” with the availability of “Breaking News” alerts from newspapers; updates through Facebook and Twitter; and full, updated news stories placed on websites 24/7. So, how many people are really watching the TV news? Do people read the paper cover-to-cover anymore? Who reads other sections of a newspaper website in addition to the online article they accessed?

Two recent items made me pause to re-evaluate the value of local news. The first was a survey by Hearst Television Inc. which found that local TV news serves as a major part of people’s daily routine. This I found notable given all the other “news getting” tools available to viewers/readers. The second was a white paper titled, “Rethinking Public Media”.

Local news outlets, like Patch.com and others, provide value beyond simply reporting the news; these outlets help build and strengthen the communities they serve. While neighbors check out news and pictures of the high school’s Nutcracker performance or the activities by the Chamber of Commerce, they also learn about the lighting of the National Christmas tree and what the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” means to current and veteran service members.

Looking at this through the public relations lens, local news provides opportunities, and I don’t mean advertising. For a small, medium or large-sized business in a community, these local outlets offer heightened awareness of a person, product or service and position the company as a resource – all through a credible, trusted news outlet. For example, the director of a local, well-known art center is writing a weekly column about art benefits and activities for her online community outlet; this enhances the position of her business and directly reaches potential new students.

As I look to 2011 and opportunities for clients, outreach to engage local media is a must-do item.

… And tonight, like many of you, I will be checking the news – likely TV – to watch Santa’s path for my kiddos … unless my children have downloaded an app for that on my iPhone by then … Merry Christmas!


Ritz Communications’ work with Swedish Covenant Hospital and HIMSS selected by PRSA Health Academy for presentation

Posted: December 23, 2010 - 8:06 AM ET - by Ritz

Ritz Communications’ award-winning work for Swedish Covenant Hospital will be discussed during the 2011 PRSA Health Academy conference, “New Rules of Engagement: Communicating Transparency, Quality and Healthy Lifestyles.”

The presentation will detail the successful campaign in which Swedish Covenant Hospital (SCH) partnered with Ritz Communications and the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to demonstrate how health information technology (HIT) improves patient care.

The PRSA Health Academy conference will take place April 27 – 29 in Washington, D.C. More information may be found at www.prsa.org/healthacademy/conference.

Ritz Communications is a full-service agency specializing in public relations and marketing communications. Visit www.ritzcommunications.com or @ritzcomms for more information.


The glamorous life …

Posted: December 9, 2010 - 8:47 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I loved reading that “PR Specialist” will be one of the 50 best careers in 2011 in a recent article in US News & World Report.  I had to laugh when I read, “This is one job that demands confidence for success, and an extroverted personality doesn’t hurt.”  I would agree.  From that first job chasing reporters from the media room to the restroom at a medical conference to setting the CEO at ease before a major network appearance, the job does call for an air of self-assurance.  When I think about the variety of people that I admire in PR they are definitely among the cool-when-the-heat-is-on crowd!

The article went on to say “You might spend your day drafting a press release, responding to a reporter’s question, helping craft a PR strategy for an upcoming round of company layoffs, or running interference at a conference.”  Yep, that covers the first couple hours!  I hope they can portray the true glamour in those tasks on the rumored dramatic series about PR professionals in the works at ABC.  I picture the “Grey’s Anatomy” version of an agency – a telegenic, charmingly quirky team of crackerjack professionals, just like Meredith and McDreamy, saving reputations for clients.

In reality, what it lacks in glamour, the job makes up for in impact!  This year we celebrated the impact of an award-winning media relations campaign on behalf of Emmi Solutions which was highlighted in a recent issue of PR News.  From choosing the right client champions as spokespeople to developing a pitch that meets the needs of our target reporters, the case study outlines important lessons for anyone wanting to tell an accurate, compelling story … and we continue to hear on a regular basis the effect that this coverage has had on the client’s business.  That’s our version of a good job!