Quick Tips on Pitching Media

One of the greatest ways to bring energy and attention to your campaign is by getting it covered by the press. And while you’re certain your cause is noteworthy, getting the press to agree can be quite the task at times. There isn’t a one-size fits all approach to getting media hits, but these tips will lead you in the right direction:

  • Don’t half-step. Do not use generic mailing lists. The sports reporter does not care about the new office your organization is opening unless it’s sports related. It takes time and effort, but establishing specific media lists always pays off in the end.
  • Read some literature on the subject. Pay attention to coverage -- especially when you’re trying to get a larger feature or a spot in a magazine. Make sure the story you want told wasn't covered recently. This applies more to magazines than newspapers. It’s always helpful to be prepared with multiple angles for the same story.
  • Follow-up, but don’t push it. There’s a fine line that separates being annoying from persistent and not being annoying from too passive. If you’ve sent out a press release and you haven’t heard anything back after a week, feel free to send a follow-up email. You’ll get where you need to be in due time.

There are levels to this and a decent pitch is the first step, stay tuned for follow-up tips.

New Name, Same Blog...Kinda

Hey there! I know it's been a while, sorry about that. I was going to do a rundown of everything I’ve missed since my last post, but why?

You may have noticed the name of this blog has changed from "Scandal: For Real" to "Confessions of a Communicator." Long story short, here's why: I was excited by the prospect of a primetime show focusing on an overlooked (but major) component of my work. I was happy about "Scandal." Then season 2 happened.

I thought using "Scandal" as a point of reference for my blog on crisis management/crisis communications would be a great idea. But then, again, season 2 happened and the show was no longer about work but about being in your feelings. Really, season 2 was about absolutely nothing beyond marinating in your feelings like a brined chicken soaking in salt water. Olivia was giving me nothing but lip quivers and hurt feelings. In addition, I realized I can't really talk about the good stuff I get to do because the good stuff stays off record. My best work, you’ll never hear about and that’s kind of the of point.

With that said, I've changed the name of the blog and I've broadened the scope of topics. I'll still touch on crisis management and crisis communications here and there, but I'm going to talk about a lot of other stuff too. I would give you examples, but to be perfectly honest, I don't know yet. Guess we'll find out together.


These Are My Confessions

Last week's Scandal episode featured the super ambitious Josie Marcus, played by Lisa Kudrow, who's a current Member of Congress planning to run against Fitz in the Presidential election. We learned that at 15, Josie gave birth to a daughter who was told they were sisters.

Josie wanted to keep this tidbit a secret and, for some reason, thought that was possible. Well, she couldn't. It's a game-changer and game-changers aren't always secrets kept during high-profile political campaigns. The higher the position and the higher a candidate's chances of being a serious contender, the more dirt will be dug. 

One of the biggest issues with misunderstanding crisis management is the assumption that dealing with a crisis is the same as making it go away. Nope. It's not. There are times - many - when the only way to beat a crisis is to have your own coming out party for the issue.

Take President Obama for example, his adversaries did not have much of an opportunity to paint a negative picture of a young, drug-curious Barack. Why? Because Obama put the things that could have been used against him out there himself. 


To the right is a question from Essence's Twitter account regarding owning up to a secret and my response:

  Make your confession. Use your language. CONTROL THE NARRATIVE. It was inevitable that Josie's story would break, but telling it in her voice was the difference between political life and death. Because Obama was the one responsible for shedding light on his past, he was able to provide context; something that is ALWAYS distorted by an opponent.

Yes, Josie was upset that she was forced to reveal her secret pregnancy and even fired Olivia for not making the story go away. But, telling her story her way was the ultimate win. Simply put, effectively managing a crisis is rarely about the crisis itself and more about how you approach the situation. 

Former Congressman and NYC Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner could have survived Weinergate. He could have remained on the Hill until he was ready to run for Mayor. But he lied and was incredulous and lied even more and was condescending with his lies. He treated the public like we were dumb enough to believe his sloppy lies and he suffered greatly as a result.

However, people are receptive to comebacks; we love redemption. Even after being sent into exile, Weiner was still a viable mayoral candidate. He could have won if he'd counted his losses and discontinued (or at least temporarily suspended) his -- again, sloppy -- transgressions. But, he didn't. He apologized while continuing to do what he did that forced him to lie then resign then apologize then seek treatment in the first place.

It's hard to support a man who is caught doing wrong, lies about doing wrong, continues to do wrong and then seems not the least bit sorry that he's gotten caught doing wrong and lying about it. This is why the universe hates Former Presidential candidate John Edwards. There's only one Bill Clinton and after Monica, you never heard a peep of any transgression. Why? Probably because he likes being revered. 

I'll be the first to admit that people in my field really and truly do work magic, but don't expect us to tell you performing disappearing acts with your dirt is the only way to  adequately handle a scandal.


When Women & Sex & Careers Collide

It’s been four days since the premier of the third season of Scandal and I figure that’s enough time for everyone to have watched, rewatched, discussed and speculated over what happens next.

Needless to say (but I’ll do it anyway), there was a lot going on in this episode. I initially struggled with what I’d discuss because there were sooooo many, many, many worthy topics: what happens to Oliva & Co when her credibility goes to hell, the idea that Blacks have to be twice as better to get only half as much, Whitley probably made the right decision in picking Dwayne as Byron has some scary Tiger Mom tendencies, “ambitious sluts,” change and reclaim the narrative (I say this often), “Are we Gladiators or are we bitches?,” and the notion that there’s nothing wrong with a little self-preservation...even at someone else’s expense.


I was glad that Olivia lost her clients when she was “exposed” as being President Grant’s mistress, not because I was rooting against (or really for) her but because I wanted them to explore the real ramifications of when women + sex (sex, sexuality, sexualization...all of that), and careers collide.

Seriously, unless you're a commercial sex worker, being perceived as a sexual being (in your professional settings) who happens to be a woman is rarely a good combination. When women are successful or even present at the table in male-dominated arenas, more often than not, how she got there is asked in some shape form or fashion.

Even more unfortunately, this question is usually greeted by one of two assumptions. If she's seen as sexual, she slept her way to the top. If she's seen as asexual, she's queer and really great at her job.

Think about it, if you step outside of your expansive insights into Olivia's personal life. She's not a sexual being to the rest of the world, she's not even for real really a person. She survives on wine, popcorn and wears white after Labor Day! .

So maybe people didn't assume she was gay, but she was rather asexual and great at her work. To shatter people's understanding of her, to question that maybe Olivia wasn't that great at her job, but great at making useful "connections," she became a fraud. And who wants to pay a shit load of money in retainer fees for a fake fixer?!

The unfortunate thing about this is that a number of season two's resolutions came from the Oval Office. So maybe Olivia isn't a fraud, but her boo and his connections sure come in handy. Even Fitz made a point of saying they would admit to beginning their affair AFTER his election so people would believe she received her job because of merit.

And that's the battle women in particular fields face, we’re constantly being asked to prove (usually indirectly, but sometimes directly) that we have what we have because of merit. People often make assumptions that are unfair and unflattering and we're stuck trying to prove that we know what we're doing, we're “virtuous” (but not “prudes”) and that we're able to do our work based on honed skills, experience, the relationships we've established and the people we know (non-Biblically).

I could say so much more about this (and the other topics I listed) and I'm sure I will but, for now, charge yourself with giving everyone the benefit of the doubt regarding how they accomplished their position in life, especially women. 



Hey, y'all! Hey!!

Hi there! Thanks so much for visiting this thing I've decided to call Scandal: For Real, I super appreciate the fact that you've decided to come and take a look!   

With that out of the way, let's get to the good stuff. 

Everyone loves ABC's hit drama Scandal starring Kerry Washington as a DC insider who fixes things for the powerful. What people may not understand is the difference between what they see on TV and how crisis communications/crisis management works in the real world. Scandal: For Real is a blog that will give weeklyish updates about the world of crisis communications/crisis management using Scandal episodes as the background.  

My name is Katrina L. Rogers and I am a communications professional. I've worked with politicians, organizations, celebrities and corporate entities and sometimes they ask me to fix their messes. It's rare that I'm able to really share the ins and outs of what I do, so this is a way for me to discuss my work without betraying anyone's trust. 

I'm excited about using my experiences and my background as a communications professional to discuss such a hot topic. Again, thanks for joining me, I'm looking forward to the journey!