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Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting May 2023

How to Get Your Name in Print and Other Lessons from Omaha

As a PR professional I’m routinely faced with folks who refer to “free PR” as an alternative to “paid advertising,” somehow coming to the conclusion that press coverage just magically happens without any effort or associated cost. There is nothing free about PR, or what we call earned media coverage, and for some the elbow grease required for a well-placed product or organizational mention or executive quote can be a far more valuable investment than paid placements. That’s why crafting and practicing your trade becomes so important.

Prepping your executives and spokesperson to be “on message” and able to deliver “sound bites” without prep and on demand can often make the difference between securing a high value media (target publication) placement opportunity. As part of a good media relations plan, it is best practice to keep three topics at the ready and to conduct then reinforce media training about how to incorporate those messages or topics into an always ready response.

In addition to offering good concise answers, it’s always important to be available and timely with your response when opportunity calls (because reporters on deadline don’t wait for you to have time to return their call tomorrow). Finally, when invited to respond to questions via email, it’s helpful and appropriate to provide complete, well-crafted responses that can easily be lifted and dropped into a story without requiring additional follow-up.

Recently I made a bucket-list trip to Omaha, Nebraska for the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting. There was a lot to take in and a lot to learn during my visit. A few key takeaways included:

  • Wear comfy shoes – Friday’s Bazaar of Bargains is a highlight of the event, but you need to be prepared to stand in line.
  • Order the lunchbox – Vouchers for Saturday’s box lunch offering are available on Friday only. Make sure to purchase one if you plan to eat between Saturday’s Q&A sessions or you’ll be stuck with sub-par concession food or leaving the venue for lunch.
  • Get there early, really early – Doors open at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday and by 6:30 a.m. the line wraps around the parking lot and down the street towards the airport. Don’t sleep late or you’ll miss getting a seat for the big event.

In addition to shareholders who’ve held the stock for 38 years, among the many people I met standing online was the reporter from Reuters assigned to the event. He was exploring attendee participation and questioning how often we had been and whether we’d be back. I accepted his card and promised to email him after the show with my impressions (in advance of his Sunday evening deadline).

On Sunday afternoon following my flight I crafted a brief note with the requested details. Always careful to write in complete sentences, stay on message and align my response well with the question asked, I was flattered to find that he leveraged some of the language from my reply to fill out the subheads in the clip and you’ll see that I landed the attribution on the closing quote. If I were a paying client, this would be a big win (attribution + executive mention + top tier media outline = $$$).

This post is courtesy of MMC Principal Jennifer Koon. 

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