How To: Public Relations Tips From the Pros

On Wednesday, February 25, Group Y hosted its latest panel discussion “How to Maximize PR Opportunities & Expand Brand Awareness” at The Grove in Anaheim. Find event photos HERE. The panel included Bungalow PR’s Stacie Krajchir, Burton’s Global PR Director Shana Frahm, and Vans’ Senior PR Manager Chris Overholser. Here’s a few highlights from the evening’s presenters. (Photos courtesy of group Y/Jerry Kasai)

Group Y Shana and Chris

Shana Frahm and Chris Overholser during the panel discussion.

Burton’s Shana Frahm on Crisis Communications:

“When approaching a crisis situation in your company, it is very important to keep the senior management in the loop at all times as you are making your decisions. It’s also important to inform them of any changes/developments as they happen. In addition, never approach the heads of your company with the problem without having at least 3 different solutions for your company to choose from to resolve the problem.

Other things you will need:

1. A crisis communications plan that includes what you want to say and when you want to say it: to the public, your employees and the press.
2. Your company statement on the crisis. If the crisis involves third parties or perhaps athletes who have other sponsors, make sure that you have an ongoing friendly relationship with the other companies involved so that they know what you’re saying and you know what they’re saying.
3. A “Q&A” that contains any negative questions that you might be asked and how your company wants to answer them.
4. Assign a designated spokesperson. Depending on the importance of the situation, you may want the PR department or the head of your company to speak.
5. Make sure that your legal and HR departments are in the loop on what you are doing. They should review all of your communications before you send them out, especially since PR is usually only responsible for journalist communications, and not the welfare of your staff or sponsored athletes.

There are many more elements to consider with regard to crisis communications and I highly recommend hiring an outside crisis PR firm that you can call on to help you get through tough situations. Many companies will work with you on a case-by-case basis, and its always best to have a few firms on hand for emergencies.”

group Y, Stacie Krajchir

Stacie Krajchir at the group Y panel discussion.

Stacie Krajchir on PR Do’s and Don’ts

“When contacting any media, one of the most important things is to be organized prior to picking up the phone or sending an email. Know who you are pitching, plan ahead and be creative when pitching your product. Many magazines are downsizing these days, and editors and television producers are now juggling a few positions or sections. So the old saying that you only have 10 minutes to make a first impression has actually trickled down to about 22 seconds! It’s best to be prepared and make the most out of every phone call or opportunity to connect and raise your brand’s awareness.


1. Is your product appropriate for this outlet? Do your research first.
2. Pitch the appropriate section and editor. If it isn’t clear, ask who might be the best person to pitch. Editors have no patience when you pitch something that is not relevant to their section.
3. Plan ahead. Have a variety of pitches/spins for products ready and spin your story according to season (holiday gift guide, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Summer, Back to school, etc.) section, or demographic. Think about these pitches far ahead of time.
4. Extend your outreach to also include non-endemic press.
5. If you have never reached out to a specific non endemic outlet, call and introduce yourself and your company. Create relationships.
6. Try to set up desk side meetings, that are face-to-face appointments with editors. You’d be surprised how many editors are open to some face time.


1. Get your “Manhattan minute” down to 45 seconds.
2. Create interesting and unique catchy pitches.
3. Use creative subject lines in emails to get editors attention.
4. Do not send large or multiple attachments, try to send PDF versions especially with good, clear visuals.
5. Write short, to-the-point emails
6. Always end a live phone conversation by reviewing what you agreed to do (send samples, images or more information, etc.)


1. Don’t leave long messages
2. Leave slow, clear and to the point messages: your “Manhattan minute”
3. Leave your name, company, phone number and website.
4. Make note in your messages that you will be forwarding more info/images via email and to tell them to keep an eye out for that.


1. When an editor requests samples or images, always ask what the deadline is.
2. Deliver what you promise, when you promised to deliver it. Don’t oversell something if you cannot deliver it – this is a quick route to being black listed by an editor/magazine.
3. Be available (via cell, email, office). Return calls and emails as soon as possible – even one day can result in missing a press opportunity.”

Vans’ Chris Overholser, “PR 101”:

“Right now is a great time to re-visit public relations. In many cases, we’re facing shrinking marketing budgets, but with the same demands for marketing results. PR, while not inexpensive in terms of time investment, is a relatively cheap marketing endeavor. At Vans, our biggest single PR expense is product.

At the Group Y event, we had a broad spectrum of experience in public relations; some didn’t have a clear understanding of what PR is and some work in it on a daily basis. Nearly everyone at a brand, distributor or retailer is involved in PR whether they know it or not. At its simplest, PR is the relating of information about your brand or products to a target audience – usually your customers or potential customers. This usually involves utilizing media outlets – print, Web and broadcast – but can also include product seeding to influencers or product placement in film and television

There are a variety of opportunities when PR should be utilized, including the release of new products, store grand openings, special promotions and/or events, seasonal offerings, athlete news, unique employee stories, and ongoing community relations activities.

When developing a simple product PR program, there are three important steps that you need to keep in mind before you even begin to pitch your product to media:

1. Define your audience. Is it trade or consumer? For a single product, you are likely going to have a different message for retailers than you will for the end consumer.
2. Create your message. Is it appropriate for your defined audience? Is it clear and concise? Does it encompass the unique selling points that your product has?
3. Develop a set of tactics. What materials such as informational one-sheets, news releases or product photos will help you convey your product’s features? What deadlines must you meet to publicize your product in the proper time frame?

Now that I’ve spent a little time “selling” Public Relations, a few words of caution. With PR, you cannot entirely control your message. The biggest difference between PR and advertising is that in an ad, you pay for that space and you can communicate exactly what you want in that space. In PR, we’re dealing with “earned” media which means that you are earning that space in editorial through your PR efforts. You trade control of the message in return for a third party endorsement by the media outlet. The benefit is that media outlet, if respected, will provide more credible brand or product messaging than advertising can deliver.”

group Y is a collective of youth marketing & communications professionals with a focus on action sports and entertainment industries. Founded in 2006, the group is vehicle to bring people together and assist new relationships between others within our sphere of Action Sports and Entertainment. For more information about group Y, please visit our website at