Feel Secure and Be Seen with Media Relations Counsel
We coach leaders to speak to the media
Obtaining media placements in today’s cluttered marketplace takes tenacity and know-how. Beth Hammock began working in media relations in 1999 as a spokesperson for the Kansas City (Mo.) School District. The district became unaccredited while she was there and shut down dozens of schools as charter schools took hold. Since then, she has been a spokesperson for Attorney General Jay Nixon (Mo.), University of Missouri Advancement, the University of Montana Foundation, Cottey College and Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois.
The first step in getting your story in the news is a well-written news release. It needs to tell a story and cut through the clutter. Beth is a pro at this and her releases appear in smaller papers verbatim. Her work has landed her organizations press coverage from the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to the New York Times.
We also offer media training for executives. We will help you craft a crisis communications plan if you don’t have one. And when crisis strikes, we will be there to manage the press and work with you on messaging.
Some examples of Beth’s proactive media relations are below.
New York Times Features Small Missouri College
Cottey College, a small college in a rural part of Missouri, was featured in the lead paragraph of a story about international students in the New York Times on August 28, 2019. Beth was executive director of marketing and communications at Cottey and the media relations lead. The paper reported:
“Cottey College, a women’s college in Nevada, Mo., accepted six students from Ethiopia this year, and officials were disappointed when two of them were denied visas. They were puzzled by the reason: The students, the State Department said, did not have strong enough ties to their home country and might not return.
‘At the age of 17 or 18?’ Megan Corrigan, international education coordinator for the college, said on Wednesday.”
Later in the story, Corrigan is quoted again: The visa denials to the Ethiopian students at Cottey College were especially frustrating to college officials because the school had made a strong commitment to recruiting international students and was offering generous scholarships. “We had invested in getting them here, and they were so excited about the opportunity,” Ms. Corrigan said. “And now they can’t come.”
Read the full story here.
So how did Cottey make it into this story that included a photo of students from Harvard? Beth Hammock answered an email from a VP of communications for the women’s college association who was looking for a college with international students. The VP told Beth a reporter from a leading paper was working on a story about the visa challenge, and she would get back to her. Beth contacted the college president who said the international program coordinator should do the interview. Megan Corrigan did a great job.
Being an effective media relations professional requires courage and initiative. Beth keeps her eyes open for opportunities and jumps on them.
Recognizing Donors in the Media Gets Results
Getting donor stories in the media is a great way to recognize an institution’s most generous donors. Tom Cotter, a University of Montana alumnus, committed $11 million of his estate to the university. After the university recognized him with a gift announcement, media placements and personalized stewardship, Cotter sent a $5 million check to the foundation. The story of his $11 million gift was on the front page of the Missoulian, Chronicle of Philanthropy, on TV and Montana Public Radio. Beth managed the media relations, gift announcement and other stewardship. She also conducted the interview above which was used online and at the gift announcement.
Political Media Pro
As spokesperson for Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon for 18 months, Beth placed stories in every paper in Missouri and regional and national media. She researched cases, wrote the news releases and the attorney general’s remarks for news conferences. She often found relevant locations for the news conferences, such as a hospital for an end-of-life care initiative and the Branson Chamber of Commerce for a travel scam lawsuit. One case landed on the front pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star and was picked up by the Chicago Tribune. Beth also took incoming calls on controversial topics like conceal and carry and the execution of a juvenile inmate.
Spokesperson for Kansas City Schools
Beth was the media relations lead for the Kansas City (Mo.) School District when it became unaccredited in 2000. She worked with the media to inform parents and the district’s stakeholders through the many steps taken to address the deficits. The TV stations interviewed Beth several times a week. Oftentimes, she arranged their interviews about a positive story, knowing exactly what they needed from her experience in Kansas City newsrooms.
Some successes include communicating the need for students to attend school on Saturdays, and the students showing up. Beth also managed communication about the implementation of a dress code.
Three sisters playing on the same college basketball team would make most sports reporters jump at the story. With Cottey College being an hour from the nearest TV station, the public information director was doubtful we could get coverage. Beth said we had to try. Next thing you know, the Acton sisters were stars on KSN TV in Joplin, Missouri.
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Hammock Communications, based in Edwardsville, IL, provides marketing and PR consulting and services for educational institutions and nonprofits across the Midwest. We give organizations more power to set their sights higher.
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