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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, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Thanks Gini. Great advice. it makes a lot of sense, especially now that i have read it again (thanks Ken). As I move forward with the company and my goals, reading, learning and APPLYING the great things on posts like this, is something I hope to continue to do and get better at every day. Thanks again Gini.

Al

jenzings
jenzings

Great idea and process, and eminently doable. The point about why companies used to hire PR firms (relationships with reporters) and how this is evaporating as a reason is true, and a point that I'm surprised I have not seen articulated quite this way before. Some are taking the "spray and pray" approach of news release dissemination to respond to this, while the method you outline above has the potential to not only be far, far, more effective, but has the added bonus of not being as damaging as the "S & P" method. I hope people will listen.

Sidebar: I'm so grateful to @shonali for pointing out your blog. I find the smartest stuff and people on here...

PJWright
PJWright

Thank you Gini for taking showing me how to eat the elephant one bite at a time. I have struggled with how to get media attention and have done the pitch to reporters path to no avail. Your suggestion of selecting a limited number, developing a conversation with them and understanding their time constraints makes perfect sense, makes the whole task doable and hopefully will make me successful. Thanks again.

AmandaChanguris
AmandaChanguris

@AprilFin Let me know when you get started on the personal Tumblr - always looking for great stuff to add to my feed! #foodisgreat

AprilFin
AprilFin

@AmandaChanguris Right now I just have a work account on Tumblr. Might use it for food stuff soon since I am changing my blog focus.

AmandaChanguris
AmandaChanguris

@AprilFin Thanks for passing along the Media Relations article, you're an awesome content curator!

BicycleLab
BicycleLab

Great post Gini! No business has time but we make time for things that set us apart in our industry. If Businesses hire a pr firm do do this they are missing the boat. No one can communicate your passion or business better than those "in the trenches" so to speak. PR firms may be great for bigger branding and communications but not for those relationships with media.

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell

Gini - Makes tremendous sense to me. Like Erica, what I enjoyed the most were the links to the two Steve Strauss articles ("see here and here"). And I think I learned a lot more about you and your business.

Now...I would've seriously considered agreeing with @SteveStrauss (who I follow and is actually quite active on Twitter) that his dry cleaner didn't need Twitter, except for the fact that my local drycleaner (@GenevaCleaners) followed me last week. And I followed them back :)

DoTime_WX
DoTime_WX

Gini, thank you for breaking down the borders re media relations. Like most unchartered areas, most choose not to venture. Your insight is invaluable.

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

What I loved most about this article (at Ken's and here) is the real life example you used with Straus from USA Today. You commented; he noticed and was urged by your friend Rieva to contact you; you earned a spot in the follow up column. Score. Point well made.

I also love the point about hiring a firm to do it! That actually may be my favorite of them all. :)

bdorman264
bdorman264

Interesting indeed, but not unlike cultivating any relationship. Most people are not untouchable, you just have to find a way to get in.

Hiring someone to do the response campaign sounds much more appealing than doing all the leg work yourself. I don't insist I don't have the time, it just sounded like work and I think I hear my phone ringing.............

Hola.

John Falchetto
John Falchetto

Hey @ginidietrich great post, I was going to write I don't agree but then I read the last paragraph. I believe most business owners don't have the time, nor the inclination to monitor their trade media let alone define their key messages. I think lack of time is a poor excuse, I believe it's more a feeling of not knowing if they should say what they think combined with the possible legal consequences of saying it.

PR agencies exist for a reason. Defining key messages is but one of them.

Did I mention I love this post?

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