The Jaybird Rules for Media Interviews

November 6th, 2014

by Laurie Jakobsen

Most people get understandably nervous about media interviews. It’s important to recognize that your body will probably have an adrenalized response – you will talk faster, and things around you will feel slower. So you need to remind yourself to breathe and slow yourself down, so you can better control your reactions (this is even more important for radio and TV). I always tell people that if they’ve been on a job interview or a first date, they already have a good sense of how to handle a media interaction – and here are my “nine plus bonus” rules to guide you.

First rule: an interview is a transactional conversation – not a friendly chat. Like any other negotiation, you want to reach a win-win with the journalist, but you need to have a specific focus on the key messages you want to get across. Remember that you are in control of what you say – you are not giving all control over to the reporter; this is not a deposition. You have something they want: a good story. That is what you need to deliver: on your terms, not theirs.

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Want to understand today’s entertainment biz?

January 22nd, 2014

By Laurie Jakobsen

Blockbusters by Anita Elberse

I’m almost finished reading Anita Elberse’s “Blockbusters,” and for everyone about to get on the plane for the Grammys, NAMM, Midem – download this book now. Elberse, a Harvard professor whose research debunked Chris Anderson’s “long tail” t­­heory about consumer behavior and the internet, gives us a solid read on why the digital economy has amplified the big hits, making the overall entertainment industry – including sports – focus on the superstars. I had the book in my mind when I heard David Bakula of Nielsen give this stat on Music Biz’s “Common Ground” webinar last week: take away the top two albums of 2013, and sales of #3-200 would have been up a tiny bit, .8%. But because Justin Timberlake and Eminem’s albums did not sell as much as the top two in 2012 – Adele and Taylor Swift – overall sales were down 8.4%. That’s the power of the blockbuster.

Music Industry Reading List

October 28th, 2013

By Laurie Jakobsen

I was recently asked what my most-recommended music industry books were, and thought I would also share them here. I’ll admit upfront I’ve had a personal connection to a few of these authors, but hopefully that does not make their work less brilliant:

The Mansion on the Hill and Fortune’s Fool by Fred Goodman acheive both page-turning readability with serious industry Fortune's Foolcred. This two-book series – the first chronicling the rise of the modern commercial record business through the careers of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and David Geffen, and the latter using the trajectory of Edgar Bronfman, Jr. to show how the industry floundered into the era of digital. Meaty stories with serious insider detail from a master journalist.

If you want more in the spirit of Mansion, then also check out Hit Men by Fredric Dannen, which was considered a major industry expose in 1990, and also The Label (History of Columbia Records) by Gary Mamorstein, and Exploding (History of Warner Music) by Stan Cornyn. While these label history books can start to feel like that part in the Bible that lists everyone who begat everyone else, they remind us that the music industry is a game of relationships, above all else. The story of Columbia essentially parallels the entire history of recorded music, and the Warner tale brings more of the development – and then conglomeration – of the independent labels.

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Is the Internship headed for extinction?

October 23rd, 2013

By Laurie Jakobsen

I’ve been watching the various internship lawsuits progress, so was unsurprised by this announcement today by Condé Nast:

Social Media’s Growing Influence on Funding, Editorial

October 2nd, 2013

Two stories caught my attention yesterday from different sources, proving the same point: social media activity is driving material decisions for businesses. The Wall Street Journal found that VCs are looking at social media activity to decide on investments, and PR Daily, in reporting on an Advertising Week panel, noted that editors of celebrity-driven magazines are looking how engaged a potential cover subject is on social media to make their cover decisions. So if you were on the fence about social media, it’s time to jump in.

5 Things PR Pros Can Learn from the Survivor: Caramoan Finale

May 14th, 2013

Cochran receives an immunity idol from Survivor: Caramoan host Jeff Probst. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS © 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

By Bill Greenwood

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How to Get on a Reporter’s Good Side in One Sentence or Less

December 17th, 2012

By Bill Greenwood and Laurie Jakobsen

Every month, we at Jaybird promote the NY Tech Meetup’s (NYTM) tech demo nights at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. To support this, we prepare a one-sheet for our press guests with contact information for every demoing company along with a one-sentence description describing their product. The companies provide their own descriptions for this sheet, and most of them do an excellent job. However, some people find it very challenging to distill their startup into one sentence, and so we reached out to several journalists who have attended past NYTMs to get their tips on how to craft a concise company description that catches the eye and scores some coverage.

1.) What do you provide and who do you serve?

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Communication Disconnects: Don’t Mistake a Carrot for a Stick

May 21st, 2012

by Laurie Jakobsen

I caught up on a big pile of magazine reading while I was traveling to and from NARM’s Music Biz 2012 event.  A few different stories caught my eye in particular, and I think they all highlight the dangers of communication disconnects: between a company’s stated values and the actions it rewards, and also between what a business thinks a customer wants and what they actually do. As a result, bad actors get the proverbial carrot, and potential customers get the stick.

The carrot is on the left

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PR Writing Tips from a Former Journalist

February 10th, 2012
XKCD Kerning

Comic from

By Bill Greenwood

Before I came into the PR world, I worked in the journalism industry for more than five years. I started off as an editor at my college newspaper, became a staff writer at a local newspaper after graduation, and ended up as an assistant editor at an information-technology trade magazine before heading to grad school and winding up here at Jaybird Communications. When it came time to write my first press release, I was excited to try out a new style of writing that didn’t have quite as many rules as what I had done previously. Of course, I came to discover that PR writing doesn’t necessarily have fewer rules, just different ones. But I also learned that applying some of those old journalism standards could actually improve the quality of my releases considerably. So, here are some simple tips from the journalism world that you can use to improve your own writing.

Strive for “Objective” Reasoning

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‘Fire Andy!’: PR Lessons from the Philadelphia Eagles

December 9th, 2011

By Bill Greenwood

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid at a press conference following the team's loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 2010/2011 NFL playoffs.

I grew up in South Jersey, about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, which means the Philadelphia Eagles have been a big part of my life. I remember the drastic lows of the Rich Kotite and Ray Rhodes eras and the soaring heights of Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach, including the team’s 2004 trip to the Super Bowl, our first since 1980. We lost to the New England Patriots, but the atmosphere surrounding that loss was an upbeat one. After three straight losses in the penultimate game of the NFL playoffs, we had finally reached the big showdown, and it would only be a matter of time before we won it.

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