A man named Jeff Crilley wanted to make a difference in the news business. He had watched several public relations (PR) firms fail and go away when he was working in the TV news field. He began spending time developing a new way to deliver information to the average consumer when he founded Real News PR in his garage 13 years ago.
Now, he is the CEO and has several suites in the Lincoln Center, featuring offices, several TV/radio broadcasting studios including green screen, an on-site gym, market and is attached to the Hilton Hotel in the building. Real News offers services such as podcasting, live streaming, managed live video, video productions, public relations services, and more.
His vision was to bring on a team of media experts who could “deliver publicity at the speed of news, with the purpose of delivering results instead of promises.”
His website clearly states that “We guarantee success because, unlike other Dallas PR firms, our unique approach is most effective since we speak ‘journalist.’ We work with our clients to develop stories that the media will love and in a language they understand. Paired with the team of journalists, our marketing experts build the brand and awareness that makes an impact.”
As a journalist myself, I am very aware of the failings of TV news, print, Internet, and brick-and-mortar PR firms. I usually have to basically rewrite the press releases I get because many marketing departments are in such a hurry to release information, they don’t think about how the format or content will either help or be a pain to their media destinations.
Another big issue that freelance journalists like me have is trying to find relevant topics to write about that haven’t been covered to death. Crilley personally churns out a newsletter every day called, “The Rundown,” where he posts trending topics/stories and provides contact information for experts that can help journalists. He says he has never missed a day sending “The Rundown” out in 13 years, and now it goes out to 34,000 journalists across the country.
Crilley took time out of his busy day to give me a tour of his offices and studios in Lincoln Center. As we walked and talked, he explained his thoughts on what’s going on with media in general.
“There’s a change coming in the media. Remember how thick the Dallas Morning News used to be?” Crilley asked. “These audiences are shrinking. And then you have this 13-year-old girl on YouTube with three million subscribers, and she’s showing you how to do makeup. What’s wrong with this picture? ‘Traditional’ news sites may only get 900 views, while this [young lady] is beating the CBS Evening News. You can see this division in how people get their news.
“The fact is that fake news is now actually a thing. Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather would be appalled. The news is being a little bit more overt than they ever have. They’re not even trying to be in the middle politically. We know which networks are liberal and which are conservative.
“I liken this to Blockbuster versus Netflix. There was a time when there was still a Blockbuster on every corner. Then, this pesky little bug called Netflix started buzzing around. And all they did was change the [existing] model slightly. They said, ‘If you’re going to have a date night at home on a Friday night, you could go online, rent a movie, we’ll ship it to you overnight, and it’ll be there for Friday’s date night.’ So, they changed the model slightly, making it almost effortless instead of having to drive to a video store and then getting charged for returning it late because the weather is bad or whatever.
“[Blockbuster] should have just bought Netflix and absorbed the technology, but they were very arrogant. They said people will always want to drive through sleet to go to their local Blockbuster and rent a movie. The model was changing, and they didn’t recognize it. And so, I’m saying the model for the way that information gets to consumers is changing. It used to be the CBS Evening News. Now, it’s Twitter,” Crilley said.
Real News PR has several different studios that can be used for a plethora of situations. The first studio we toured was nicknamed, “The Oprah Room” because of its ability to support commercial television projects. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a car under my chair.
“We can even Skype and Zoom people in from here. And so now this little division that started four years ago makes up more than 50% of our income, and we’re producing 92 different shows for 92 unique clients,” Crilley said.
Real News is equipped to use all kinds of backgrounds for their media productions, including the “real” backdrops through the studio windows. Some of the views are of DFW traffic, some contain a lovely fountain, and some are completely digital. Natural sunrises and sunsets are used as much as possible. Crilley and his staff often change out the contents of a studio to match the incoming guest, such as a sports theme for athletes or a library scene for academics.
“If a person wanted this to be a sports talk show, we could put a Dak Prescott jersey back there or a Cowboys helmet, a football and basketball and now it’s a sports background,” Crilley said.
“One of the features that we like is that each producer can be a part of the show, like how Howard Stern has Robin to bounce stuff off of. We could put a camera on the producer, we could put a gel against this wall so it is pretty, and then halfway through the show, I can say, ‘Let’s go to my producer Travis. What do you think about what I said?’ And he could get in a little play fight with me and argue with me. Why? Because it makes the show more entertaining,” Crilley explained.
They also have a studio with a green screen background that could be made into anything.
“If I want the capitol in the background, all I have to do is go to YouTube and search for ‘capitol’ and defocus it so it’s soft in the background. There’s only one thing that can be in focus, which is either the subject or the background. So, if we focus on stuff going on outside the window in real-time, it’s very soft in the background. You see some traffic. You see clouds moving. I could put a little fan in here to make your hair blow…the options are endless. But the focus is always on the interviewer and guest,” Crilley explained.
Of course, Crilley is not the only employee. He has been fortunate enough to recruit a solid, hardworking team of men and women who take care of different parts of Real News. The company is also expanding.
Crilley and I went up to the 7th floor, where we were greeted by plastic wrap on the floor.
“This is just for us,” he said. It wasn’t red, but it still stood for status in my eyes because we were entering the future of Real News PR.
“The reason we like this space upstairs on the 7th floor is that with the perspective up here, the shot gets more majestic,” Crilley said. “And as you can see, there’s tons of more space.”
Once the buildout is done, all of the studios and offices will move from the 2nd to the 7th floor, allowing for much more room for all, as well as more room for expansion.
My thanks go out to CEO Jeff Crilley for taking time out of his busy day to show me around.
For more information about Real News PR, visit https://www.realnewspr.com/.