Gini Dietrich

Integrating Social and Traditional Media Relations

By: Gini Dietrich | May 12, 2011 | 

It’s Facebook question of the week time. Woo hoo!

Today’s question comes from Jenn Whinnem. Before I tell you her question, let me tell you how you can find her.

She is a communications officer at the Connecticut Health Foundation (which will make sense when you read her question), she is a contributing author at SMB Collective, and she can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Check her out. You’ll see her around here and on other blogs, as well. In fact, I’m pretty sure I first met her on Mark Schaefer’s blog, and then on Jayme Soulati’s, and then on Shonali Burke’s, and pretty soon we were stalking one another.

She’s very active online and I know you’ll like her as much as I do.

She asks: 

Hi Gini, I have a Facebook question of the week, if I may! What’s the best way for a business to integrate its traditional media relations function with its social media function? Please keep in mind, these are two separate role. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks Gini!

It’s hard to answer this without knowing how your organization is built, Jenn, but I answered it the way I would LOVE to see all companies manage it.

Of course, there will be different ideas and opinions in the comments so be sure to take all of it into consideration as you work internally or counsel friends and colleagues.

Which means, after you watch the video (which you can view by clicking here), let Jenn know if you agree, disagree, or have other ideas for her.

But! Before you go! Head over to the Arment Dietrich Facebook wall and leave a question for me there. I think I have only two more to answer and you really don’t want me to send Nancy Davis after you…with her New Jersey accent and wearing her tracksuit.

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. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • jennwhinnem

    Hi ginidietrich I just happened to be looking at Facebook when you posted this! Thanks so much for answering this question for me, I appreciate it. I loved all of your advice and I’m looking forward to comments from the vast SpinSucks audience!

    (A note to people who view the foundation’s site – we’re launching a brand new site that is GORGEOUS on 5/25 – hope you all will come back and see that then.)

  • KenMueller

    I guess the further question is, why are they two separate roles, and should they be? Not sure I have a full answer for that.

    Oh, and I soooo want someone to take all of your videos, edit them, and create some sorta musical mashup. And I think I might wanna turn “Hey, we’re great, we’re awesome, we rule” into a ringtone….

  • @KenMueller If you don’t do it, someone else will….

  • KenMueller

    @Ari Herzog Man, I gotta figure out how to monetize this.

  • jennwhinnem

    @KenMueller Hey Ken, thanks for weighing in. I can tell you that they absolutely do need to be separate roles – it’s too much for any one person to do on her/his own!

    I think you should mash them up to Rocky’s fight song.

  • Soulati

    Don’t forget, Jenn, to tie whatever it is you’re trying to promote directly back to business goals. Start there, and all else flows. You integrate marketing, balance PR with traditional media and social, and wrap it all up with measurement/results. If you still need help, you know where to find us! (Thanks, Gin Blossom!)

  • Shelley Pringle

    Hi Gini, I really like the concept of having the community manager at the ‘hub’ of all the other activities with which an organization is involved. I see how this approach would work on an ongoing basis. Do you (or anyone listening) have suggestions on how to integrate social and traditional activities for large, seasonal campaigns? For example, if an organization typically does a holiday promotion every Christmas, how do they generate the ‘big’ idea that integrates both social/traditional and how can they make sure all the pieces are working together effectively?

  • Hi Jen – I figured I would add my two cents in here today.

    In my opinion, tradition and social < outreach > are one in the same. Whether you’re talking to a journalist at the NY Times or a blogger who has an audience that relevant to your industry, you need to understand who you’re talking to, who their audience is and bring them a story that is relevant to their interests.

    One of the things that’s cool about the blogoshpere is you can participate in conversations on blogs who you’d love to have tell your story. You can engage and get to know the blogger and the audience by commenting and contributing to the conversation without being a self promoting douchebag.

    When it comes time to reach out to the blogosphere, people will know who you are, understand the value proposition and be more than happy to share your story with their audience.

    It’s the same with traditional outreach. You need to understand what that journalist writes about, which will give you a good indication whether or not an audience is right for your story or not, so you can bring them content that is relevant.

    The one thing traditional/social media professionals hate it to be spammed, or brought stories that are completely irrelevant to their work or their audience. They hate it!

    Do research, understand where you want to be and which outlets would be beneficial to your company and that will be valuable to the outlets/journalist your reaching out to.


  • When I am not busy “allegedly” wearing a tracksuit and busting kneecaps, I like to help others with these kinds of questions.

    I think ideally it should be as Gini suggested, a hub. If you are like me and have many bosses, you probably have a lot of hats to wear. I suggest making friends with as many people as possible to get your message out to as many as you can.

    Commenting on blogs is essential. Not just business blogs, but also blogs about your specific topic to really get your message out there. If that does not work, I may know some people….(allegedly)

  • Soulati

    If you can take the campaign/big idea to video you can promote the event/contest/kids and dogs on social channels and draft a news release that is issued to regional media at the same time. When doing the press release, you also launch it online and optimized so you drive traffic to YouTube or Facebook, for example, while also getting “traditional” media invited to the event or to do a story. Does that help at all? (Kinda hard to share strategy here…!) @Shelley Pringle

  • Soulati

    Interesting thoughts, Mark. I have to disagree. Perhaps there’s a solid blend or blurring of the lines with national media playing in both “camps” but if you look at trade, regional or local media they pretty much stick to what’s familiar. That’s my experience anyway. P.S. Costa Rica???!!! Holy Caw! @Mark_Harai

  • @Soulati Hi Soulati, I’m not clear on what you disagree with, but we all have our own experiences to draw off, so there not really a wrong or right way to get your story out effectively – just experience in actually getting it done, which is all I can share.

    Yes, Costa Rica is an interesting little country. My son has a job over at the Four Seasons and he was just telling me about all of the famous people he see’s over there.

    All I could say is “those folks are nut’s… they pay $1200 per night and up just to sleep there!”

    Oh well, to each his own I suppose. The last time Bill Gates was out this way (large shareholder in the Four Seasons) he stayed on his yacht… Now I would consider paying $1,200 a night to stay on Bill Gates yacht – LOL!

  • jennwhinnem

    @Soulati Jayme, you’re in my band! We will JAM!

  • jennwhinnem

    @NancyD68 Hi Nancy, are you for hire on the “busting kneecaps” side? 😉

    CT Health has traditionally had a public relations person (Hi Maryland!) and now there’s me. Maryland I are on great terms (you couldn’t ask for a better co-worker) and were looking for advice from people who have had the roles separated out in this way. We’re already collaborating on how we can communicate messages differently.

    She and I are going to get together later to discuss Gini’s hub idea. And the blogging thing – absolutely. No one will read your blog if you don’t at least read other blogs! Unless you’re Seth Godin.

  • jennwhinnem

    @Mark_Harai @Soulati Keep talking both of you – I’m listening!

  • @jennwhinnem I “allegedly” bust kneecaps. 🙂 I often joke that Seth Godin is the reason I blog. One day, I will get a pet, and name it Seth. 🙂

  • @jennwhinnem@Soulati

    Gini and the others have provided a more an overall strategy on social media and it’s all great info from people who know what they are doing.

    Based on your question, especially since it involved traditional media, I just focused on one aspect, which was outreach.

    How does a company reach out to journalist or bloggers who would be willing to share their story with their audiences?

    Based on this one question that popped in my mind from your question, I provided what has worked best from my experience.

    I hope it helps : )

  • Soulati

    @Mark_Harai @jennwhinnem Perhaps that’s where the “disagreement” stemmed from, Mark. My thoughts were broader in re strategy rather than a more tactical approach. Not saying you’re wrong; just sayin’…

  • @Soulati @jennwhinnem I completely understand Soulati – no explanation necessary… I saw from your other contributions you made here that you were focusing on the broader picture : )

    Have a fantastic day!

  • jennwhinnem

    @Mark_Harai @Soulati Thanks both of you for weighing in on this. Mark reminds me that my co-worker and I need to be mindful of how we conduct outreach. Maryland is a media relations PRO I’m happy to say!

    Jayme points out that local media tend to stick to more traditional contact methods – my experience so far has been that she’s right. I’ve tried to talk to reporters who are online (via Twitter, for example) and heard nothing back. Investigation showed they weren’t there all that often.

    From Mark I learn that I’d like to be in Costa Rica today.

  • @jennwhinnem @Soulati Hey Jenn, it’s great to live in a place most folks would love to be at : )

    Come on down!

  • Soulati

    uhm, Mark, you’ve just opened the door for more comments on your blog so we can all be BFFs. How many extra sleep slots do you have down there? Uhm, maybe your son gets a discount for the penthouse in the hotel? @Mark_Harai @jennwhinnem

  • Soulati

    Noticeably, Gin Blossom is absent from her very own blog; so, because we are the same person, I’ll just control the whole thing (besides, I get more points that way). Ta!

  • KDillabough

    No solution here: just wanted to provide some comic relief. (Actually, it would be comical if it wasn’t so true)

    Last night at a meeting I was facilitating for early growth businesses and “seasoned” business owners, I dam near had my head taken off when, after a presentation by an ad executive, I asked the group to consider how “traditional/conventional’ media would converge/interconnect/relate (whatever word they wanted to use) with social media.

    I was then basically thrown to the firepit to even suggest that “social media” had any relevance to, for example, small business in a downtown, “local” business, yadayada. Eegads. I was barely able to get out alive!

    Just thought I’d add my 2 cents about the challenges in some (not all) of the solopreneur/small business (small minded…now did I say that?) world. I’m still scraping off the soot:)

  • KenMueller

    @KDillabough wow. just wow. That’s even more backward than most of my experiences.

  • KenMueller

    @Soulati staging a coup?

  • Soulati

    I’m not surprised. Add this experience to trying to be in PR and explain what it is we do to a small business. There is a group of leaders relishing the new opportunities and then there are those who prefer to remain in the stone ages. One day they’ll wake up and see what they’ve missed. (Gotcha covered, Gin Blossom.) @KDillabough

  • ginidietrich

    @jennwhinnem HAHAHAH! That made me LOL! And I’ll be SUPER impressed if it actually launches on May 25. If it does, you’ll have to give me a lesson in holding developers accountable.

  • ginidietrich

    @jennwhinnem @KenMueller I think they need to be separate roles, too. Two different communication methods. Two different, yet similar skill sets.

    I just had a vision of some political mash-up where everything I’ve said is taken out of context. I guess it’s bound to happen.

  • ginidietrich

    @jennwhinnem @Soulati And yes. What she said.

  • jennwhinnem

    Wow @KDillabough ! That’s nuts! How did you handle this?

  • Soulati

    No better time than the present when the boss is away so the mice can play. Heh. @KenMueller

  • KenMueller

    @Soulati crap…I think she’s back…

  • Soulati

    Oh, hi, Gini ! How’s your day? @KenMueller

  • KDillabough

    @jennwhinnem Well, I maintained composure in front of the group, although inside I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing of scream in agony. I then simply said: consider all of these platforms/ channels/ mechanisms like tools in a tool box. If I want to hammer a nail in a wall, I can reach in for the hammer or, (as I took my shoe off and banged it on the table) or I can use another tool that as effectively, efficiently and productively gets the job done. The majority of the room was with me. The rest? In Jayme’s @Soulati words: I guess they prefer to remain in the stone ages.

  • KDillabough


    Well, I maintained composure in front of the group, although inside I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or scream in agony.

    I then simply tried the analogy of: consider all of these platforms/ channels/ mechanisms (whether online or offline) like tools in a tool box. If I want to hammer a nail in a wall, I can reach in for the hammer or, (as I took my shoe off and banged it on the table) I can use another tool that as effectively, efficiently and productively gets the job done. The majority of the room was with me. The rest? In Jayme’s @Soulati words, I guess they prefer to remain in the stone ages.

  • ginidietrich

    @Soulati @Shelley Pringle I agree with Jayme. We have a client that is seasonal – lawn and garden sales. Last year we did an integrated campaign that had a contest so it used Flickr and YouTube to enter, Twitter and Facebook to encourage votes, and the traditional methods to announce the contest and its winners. Super effective!

  • ginidietrich

    @Soulati @Mark_Harai @jennwhinnem The only thing I would add to this is social media isn’t solely blogger outreach. I’d almost leave that to the “traditional” media relations team and let the social media team engage with customers and prospects.

  • ginidietrich

    @NancyD68 @jennwhinnem I thought you were going to name it Gini?! Hrumph.

  • ginidietrich

    @KenMueller @Soulati That was FUNNY! I was on a plane without WiFi. A four hour flight without WiFi. I WAS DYING!

  • ginidietrich

    @Soulati @KenMueller LOL!

  • ginidietrich

    @KDillabough FEAR! They feel threatened. Un-freaking-believable. We had a conversation last night with an “old-timer” who told me social media is a fad. My girlfriends had to walk me away from the table.

  • @ginidietrich @jennwhinnem HAHAHAHA! If I get a girl pet, she will be named Gini no doubt!

    I had a Diet Coke today – it made me think of you @ginidietrich

  • KenMueller

    @ginidietrich @Soulati wow. Four hours without WiFi???? Gonna start calling you St. Gini.

  • ginidietrich

    @KenMueller It was super painful!

  • ginidietrich

    @NancyD68 LOL!! Damn you!

  • KDillabough

    @ginidietrich Total fear Gini, wrapped in a frontal attack at me, disguised as an authoritative viewpoint. P.S. In your case, I would have had to have been dragged away as I leapt across the table. Kung Fu fighting, social media style, teehee.

  • KenMueller

    @ginidietrich i bet. worst part was knowing we were all back here having fun without you, and possibly making fun of you…

  • @ginidietrich You love me, go ahead and admit it! LOL! We still have to go shoe shopping you know…

  • Shelley Pringle

    @ginidietrich @Soulati Thanks for the tips. Do you have thoughts on how the brainstorming is structured for an integrated campaign (like the one Gini mentions)? EG Gini: where did the campaign idea come from? Did your agency do all the work or were there others at the table? If yes, how did you all work together without stepping on toes? I work at an agency (mostly traditional and blogger relations) and we often find ourselves at cross-purposes with the ‘social’ agency. There seems to be quite a grey area between our respective areas of expertise.

  • ginidietrich

    @Shelley Pringle @Soulati We all met with the client in a “neutral” location and brainstormed together. It doesn’t work if the client isn’t involved.

  • ginidietrich

    @KenMueller You know me so well.

  • ginidietrich

    @KDillabough Oh to have been there last night!

  • jennwhinnem

    @ginidietrich @Shelley Pringle @Soulati What Gini said. Shelley, I appreciate you commenting since you’re in a similar position as me, with the “social” and “traditional” being in separate camps.

  • jennwhinnem

    @ginidietrich @Soulati @Mark_Harai INTERESTING Gini I will be sure to make sure Maryland reads all these comments too…great ideas here!

  • HowieSPM

    Ok I am in a hilton that must of really been a hot property 30 years ago.

    So what I was trying to say to @jennwhinnem via my Droid2 Phone on SkyFire was we have a habit of fragmenting what should be consolidated because of some awe or newnesss. Social Media marketing is just Marketing. I feel the same for Media Relations and Social Media Media Relations. Formats or platforms might change but the basic rules of engagement are the same in terms of the goals. But I would think someone who be the hub the way @ginidietrich mentioned. Whomever is in charge of Media Relations should be giving out the rules, groundwork, goals etc of Social Media Media Relations (SMMR)

    SMMR! SiMMeR Down!

  • HowieSPM

    @ginidietrich @KDillabough It’s like our two political parties. Extremes. On one side. Social media is a Fad. the other side Social Media is going to solver world hunger, invent cold fusion and cure cancer while doubling your profits all in just the first week!

  • KDillabough

    @ginidietrich We’d have been a dynamic duo for sure!

  • KDillabough

    @HowieSPM @ginidietrich Can I have the “solve world hunger, invent cold fusion and cure cancer while doubling your profits all in just the first week” for $200 Jeopardy category please?

  • jennwhinnem

    @HowieSPM @ginidietrich Hey Howie, thanks for pushing through so you could comment to me! I’m actually seeing my work (thanks to @Soulati ) as public relations in the social space. I’m thinking that over time, my co-worker and I will really share a lot of each other’s work.

  • @Soulati @jennwhinnem I know lots of people here… I can get some incredible deals with them too : ) I have an extra one bedroom apt. in my basement – have guests there all the time. It’s nice to have Twitter friends all over the world! Consider that an invitation anytime you’re in Costa Rica.

    Nice chatting with you today Jayme : )

  • @ginidietrich @Soulati @jennwhinnem I have found that many traditional PR folks don’t really “get” the building social relationships part of social media. I mean, the research skills are there, developing a solid pitch, no problem – however, the building relationships part is not. That takes an investment of time not normally associated with traditional PR.

    In social media, it’s not just about the pitch; building industry relationships can make all the difference in the world. @Marcus Sheridan is a good example of this – he’s not on the traditional or social media team — he’s the owner of the company.

    This strategy cannot work for every company, but it worked dang good for his swimming pool company and it can work very well with many business owners with a local, regional or nationwide presence.

    I believe if you took the best practices of traditional PR and mixed it with the best social media practices, you would have a winning strategy.

    Traditional – build relationships with journalist relevant to your industry.

    Social – build relationships with every customer that walks through your physical or virtual doors.

    ***Lose the “tradition/social” labels and just be the media outreach team that blows the socks off anybody who encounters your brand anywhere, anytime.

    Fat chance everyone will agree with this line of thinking, but I said it anyway : )

  • Soulati

    @Mark_Harai @ginidietrich @jennwhinnem @Marcus I love this thinking and fully agree with you. PR peeps are stuck in these labels. I was accused of being “old guard” recently on a blog (well maybe me indirectly); however, it is we who are seasoned who can appreciate both “camps” and merge them into a blended solution for the best result. Not sure why you think people won’t agree with you, Mark; it’s spot on!

  • Soulati

    I don’t understand how there can be various agencies doing basically the same thing? Of course, you’ll step on one another’s toes and there will be turf battles, too. Seems some consolidation is necessary; in fact, how is it you’re doing blogger relations and the “social” agency isn’t? Are you putting blogger relations in the PR outreach camp? Very interesting. @Shelley Pringle @ginidietrich

  • Soulati

    OMGosh; I see that House Hunting episode where the SC auto salesman and his wife want to buy property in Costa Rica and the homes are gorgeous and so is the environment. This is one bennie I’m going to cash in on Mark! Of course, I’ll earn a few more “points” with more comments at your house first! I hope you keep blogging about stories from there. (Sorry Gin Blossom; just hijacked the thread a minute with Mark.) @Mark_Harai @jennwhinnem

  • @Soulati @jennwhinnem Oh sure Jayme, happy to share : ) You should check out @srinivas Rao’s personal blog too – he’s been writing a lot about his crazy journey here in Costa Rica. He’s really good people, if you don’t already know that yourself…

  • @Soulati This has been a full circle kind of day Jayme – I’m looking forward to many more conversations in the future… Pardon my bad manners for not jumping in to your comments sooner. I’ve only seen hundreds of them. I figured I would just listen and learn for a while : )

  • jennwhinnem

    @Mark_Harai @ginidietrich @Soulati @Marcus they don’t get the building of relationships? really? Maybe I’ve been spoiled and have only known great PR people. They sure knew how to build relationships.

  • jennwhinnem

    @ginidietrich Hey I told you the exact date ON PURPOSE because of your recent post 😀 I too will be super impressed if it happens, even though our web firm is fantastic. It’s just the nature of this sort of thing!!

  • jennwhinnem

    I’d just like to thank everyone who commented here today for the insights, humor, debate, and everything else! You’ve all really encouraged me that we can make this work! And thanks of course to Gini for bringing this to all of you so you could weigh in.

  • lauraclick

    Just wanted to say, YAY, @jennwhinnem rocks! Glad her question was featured.

    Great discussion here. It’s amazing the craziness out there. Now I’m not sure which is worse – businesses that want to remain in the stone ages and think social media is total bunk, or those that have shiny tool syndrome and want to “do social”, but have no idea what that means. Sigh. There’s still a lot of teaching that needs to be done! 🙂

  • @jennwhinnem I agree with @HowieSPM and @ginidietrich about the “hub” being critical. Messaging, etc., has got to be coordinated, and then I think it’s a question of education and trust to let people go do their thang… no? It’s crazy for one person to try to do it all. Sorry to be late to the convo!

  • Shelley Pringle

    @Soulati @ginidietrich Thanks all for weighing in. It’s not an ideal situation at all. I have convinced my client to do some consolidation. Interesting indeed…except when you’re living it!

  • jennwhinnem

    @lauraclick heh Laura you are so great. Thanks to @ginidietrich for starting the conversation! I remembered this morning my first notice of Gini was her tweeting at me “why are you wasting time with a palm pre? get an iphone, silly!” and she kept teasing me! I was like “who is this crazy lady?! I’m going to check her out.” HA HA

  • jennwhinnem

    @Shonali @HowieSPM @ginidietrich Always glad to have you, Shonali! I plan to discuss this hub with Maryland (my co-worker) very soon. She’s also eager to learn the social media side of things…I think we’re going to have fun.

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