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Gini Dietrich

Create Your Own Media Relations Program

By: Gini Dietrich | August 2, 2011 | 
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This first ran on Inkling Media, my friend Ken Mueller’s blog. If you read it there, hop to the comments, which are likely way more entertaining than this entire blog post.

I’ve spent my entire career in communication. Very early on in my career, I honed the media relations skill. I spent a good three years building relationships with reporters who I called, even 10 years later, if I had a great story for them to cover.

And then the economy blew up and everything went digital and newspapers went out of business and my reporter friends lost their jobs.

It used to be that you would hire a PR firm because of their relationships with reporters. It was a lot cheaper and more efficient than trying to build those relationships yourself, in order to have them do a story on you or your business.

But it doesn’t work that way anymore. There is a MUCH more efficient way to do your own media relations without the help of a communication professional (and you can hire a PR firm for much more strategic challenges).

At Arment Dietrich, we call it the very cleverly named “response campaign.”

Your Own Response Campaign

Essentially it’s commenting on blogs, articles, and editorials where you have expertise.

You see, reporters are as time crunched as we are…and most of them are doing the job of three experts. So they don’t have time for the long lunches and coffee dates and editorial meetings of old.

But what they do have time to do is read the comments people have left on their content.

I know. I know. You’re going to tell me you don’t have time to comment.

The Response Campaign Plan

So here is what I want you to do: Choose one newspaper, magazine, or blog that makes a difference in your industry. It can be Wall Street Journal or it can be one of your trade publications. Choose just one.

Then, once a week, comment on one article, blog post, or editorial. If you disagree, fantastic! Say so. But do it professionally.

Keep this up. After about six weeks, the reporter will feel like he or she is beginning to know you and will call you for a story in the works.

Every quarter add another publication, so you have four that you focus on each year.

Don’t be afraid to go after the big publications, either, if you feel like your expertise adds value to the stories they’re reporting.

If you are consistent and post intelligent comments once a week, you’ll soon have developed relationships with reporters who call on you when they need someone to interview.

Trust me when I say it works. This is what I did with Steve Strauss at USA Today. And it worked. Really, really well (see here and here).

But, don’t worry, if you still insist you don’t have time, we can do the response campaign for you. But, rather than comment as you, we find the articles, summarize it, write some key messages, and then leave the rest to you.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

95 comments
PJuratovic
PJuratovic

Hi Gini, Great article. I have a follow up question/clarification. You reference picking only one article in a industry that makes a difference. So for instance, if I pick Wall Street Journal. For six weeks are you recommending that I would comment on a section like Small Business, or just one specific author? 

Thank you, Pete 

LindsayFultz
LindsayFultz

/@craigmillertv Thanks for the RT! Yeah very simple but seems like it would be an effective relationship building approach!

skooloflife
skooloflife

Gini,

I remember you mentioning this when I interviewed you. It's one of those things that I tried to implement but didn't really follow through on. This article really explained that strategy to me even more. As a result I"m going to pick 3-4 publications and journalists to focus my efforts on. Maybe at some point I can do a case study for you :)

hl1026
hl1026

@ginidietrich This is a great idea! I def will recommend this to my non-pr friends. Many thanks!

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

GIni, this has been one of my favorite posts so far. It's just a great how-to post for people who are not in PR. I am certainly going to give it a try!

You're so right in the comment below about "it's new to them." It might seem obvious to you, but it is not obvious to people who haven't been doing your job for 10-20 years. Like me... :)

Jens-Petter Berget
Jens-Petter Berget

Hi Gini,

This sounds like a great long term strategy, but what if we are in a hurry, and we need something out fast? Let's say within a week. Would you still go with this strategy, or do we need a month or more for this one to work?

Jens

Shelley Pringle
Shelley Pringle

Hi Gini, great post, thanks for sharing. I've also worked in PR/media relations for a long time and see so many changes in our industry. Your approach makes a lot of sense for people who want to build community with media and others. When speaking to SMEs I often tell them it's best if they build the relationship with reporters. They're always a bit surprised by that and I'm glad to have more of a structured approach to share with them.

Leon
Leon

G'Day Gini,

Thanks for the information. It's really helpful. Most of us find that PR is a bit of a mystery. I'm certainly not sure whether I should use it. This sort of stuff helps a lot.

Regards

Leon

feliciahudson
feliciahudson

Gini, great advice per usual! I love how you take a strategy or concept that can appear overwhelming--especially for a small business--and break it down into manageable steps. It's one of the reasons I love checking in here (when I can!!). You're always so generous with your knowledge. I'm sure what you share freely is probably not very significant to you, but it goes a long way in building trust and credibility with your community! You and Spin Sucks are gems. :-)

John Fitzgerald
John Fitzgerald

More free lessons? I'm gonna own a corporate jet if I keep visiting Spin Sucks!

Great post, Gini. I've always thought something like this MIGHT work, but you've explained it in a way that it COULD work. I guess it all comes down to organization and persistence, huh?

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

See I did this today! I was a bit rough on Mashable. But I did this using my twitter alias for music since they blocked Sky Pulse Media./ I highly recommend pressuring whatever media outlet one chooses (or reporter) to always work harder to be better at their reporting. It really get's one noticed. It got me noticed.

I would add many people are on twitter too and you can try to engage with them there as well.

RobReaume
RobReaume

Four hours.....omg ...I spend more

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

Thanks for the great tip, Gini! It's easy enough if you want to start small and then as you gear up or grow move onto hire someone like you!

We have found people remember those who shared advice when it came time to hire someone reputable that you could trust...good way to lay the ground work!

Thanks for sharing your real life success example too with USA Today!

jackielamp
jackielamp

This is great advice and I can't believe I haven't been doing more of this. It's also a reminder of how PR pros can adapt to the changing media landscape. Thanks for always keeping us on our toes!

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

This is a post that every person who wants to follow the paradigm shift of new media should read and understand. I embarked on a campaign early last year to start commenting on articles and blog posts of journalists within my vertical and it has helped to cultivate relationships for me that are just now starting to pay dividends. It seems to have been a longer cycle than some since the vertical is technology and the explosion of the industry makes it difficult to get noticed among the shiny new pennies that pop up every day but commenting was definitely my foot in the door.

I think one other fringe benefit of note that comes from commenting on articles is SEO juice, if they are Do Follow. There are a variety of theories on the actual SEO you can achieve with this strategy but most of the articles I have read (here is an example - http://www.thewebtricks.com/how-to-get-seo-benefits-from-your-blog-commenting) favor incorporating this into the mix as long as you do your homework.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@skooloflife Do it! Just choose one for now. Trust me, you'll see some success. And then you'll get addicted to it.

TobyBoyce
TobyBoyce

@Jens-Petter Berget If you need something that fast -- then you almost have to do a shot-gun get your hands dirty and just start "beating" on reporters. Will not be the best for long-term strategy but without having the established relationship it about your only option. Have 15 second pitch to tell the WHY they need your item.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Jens-Petter Berget You're not going to get something within a week unless you already have relationships established. This particular strategy is about building relationships with human beings and you can't do that in a week. That said, you can think about things like emailing your database or something simliar that will have some effect in a week or less.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Shelley Pringle I think many of us want to get as much off our plates as we can. So when a professional tells someone they have to do it themselves, they're usually shocked. But you're right - this works much better if the company leader/owner does it him/herself.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Leon I was just lamenting to Mr. D last night that, traditionally, PR is so hard to measure because, well, it's like magic. You know if it's working right and you if it's not working at all...but you don't really know why.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@feliciahudson What a nice comment! I had a hard lesson a few years ago. I was totally bored with my speaking engagements. I heard the same reasons people aren't online. I got the same excuses. And my answers were all the same. It was booooring. But someone finally told me it may be boring to me, but it's the first time they're hearing it. That was a good wake-up call. What we do every day is easy for us, but others think it's magical.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@John Fitzgerald It totally works. Just choose one publication you'd really like to be published in and go to work! It's not any more difficult than reading Spin Sucks and commenting here.

bdorman264
bdorman264

@HowieG I'm glad I'm not on your radar; if I have to work harder I'll just take my ball and go home................that's 'cause I'm lazy like that..........

John Fitzgerald
John Fitzgerald

@HowieG That's a bit antagonistic, no? I ask partly because I'm a bit too antagonistic at times. Maybe I'm putting too much of my own perspective into what you're saying here.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@jackielamp On Google+, I was having a chat with someone who said she's fighting the social media battle internally. I suggested she stop fighting the battle and introduce a response campaign as digital media relations. She wrote a couple of hours later that it worked. It's all in the positioning. :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@John_Trader1 GREAT point about the SEO benefits. The more you comment, the higher you rank in Google. And Google is beginning to look less at your keyword strategy and more at your social ability.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@ginidietrich It is! But, I also think your willingness to share with us no strings attached shows your confidence in yourself & Arment Dietrich. You understand by giving a glimpse with proven examples it will bring people back to hire you when the need arises! Helpful tips don't have to come with a price-tag, yet they can become priceless!

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell

@ginidietrich@John_Trader1 I agree on the SEO juice thing -- but I've been thinking about this Follow / No Follow business lately and have started leaning towards the position that if the post is dead-center in your market, read by your potential customers -- that it's worth a comment even if there is no link at all.

As soon as you RT the post (you commented on) you create a linkage. It is true that it's not going to benefit your SEO much if at all - but my primary goal is not improving my SEO, it is improving my business. SEO is just one of many paths to the same destination.

(And lately that path is wiggling around like a snake on a hotplate :) )

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@sydcon_mktg Oh wait. You didn't get the invoice? It had a wine stamp on it with an approval box to just have the case sent directly to me.

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