Gini Dietrich

Media Relations Done Well: Ten Ways to Personalize

By: Gini Dietrich | February 19, 2015 | 
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Media Relations Done WellBy Gini Dietrich

Earlier this week, Jason Falls—no spring chicken when it comes to media relations—decided it was time to “out” PR firms who add bloggers and journalists to their lists without permission.

It is, after all, spam, yet it happens Every. Single. Day.

If you are on the receiving end of these pitches, it gets to be really overwhelming. And then it moves to annoying. You spend half your email time deleting media relations emails that shouldn’t be in your inbox to begin with.

The Media Relations Conundrum

Just yesterday I received an email from a PR pro that said a Broken Egg Cafe had raised nearly $4,000 for local nonprofits during its grand opening.

I just shook my head and deleted it, but I also feel badly for the PR pro who sent it. He’s going to have to go through his list and email me again (and again and again) to see if I’m interested.

And then I’m stuck in a conundrum: If I answer him, he engages in an email debate (which happens way more often than not). If I don’t answer him, he’ll keep filling my inbox with statements such as, “Just putting this at the top of your inbox so you don’t miss it.” (I HATE THAT!)

But if he’d done his research, he’d know that I no longer write for Franchise Times and haven’t in FOUR YEARS.

So, rather than try to figure out why I’m not answering him, I wouldn’t be on his list to begin with.

If he read the magazine, he’d know who covers these things and he’d send a personalized email to that person instead of the same news release to a big list.

Ten Ways to Personalize Media Relations

It takes a lot of time and energy to do media relations really well.

If you want to do it on your own (though it’s sometimes far less expensive to hire a professional the first time around), here are some things to consider.

  1. Read blogs, publications, and online sites, and watch the programs and listen to the shows where you want to appear. It takes time, but it works because you figure out what the journalist, blogger, producer, or host really care about. Either your story fits or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, no matter how badly you want a story in that publication, move on. In the case of the PR pro working for Broken Egg, he’d know who covers franchise openings at Franchise Times and he wouldn’t have sent it to me.
  2. Personalize your pitch. Rosemary O’Neill, the co-founder of Social Strata, the makers of Hoop.la, decided to offer unlimited paid time off to her employees. The company has an office in Seattle and Rosemary reads a Seattle Times journalist daily. She already knew what the journalist covers, and knew what would be interesting to her. She sent a two sentence email about the new policy and the journalist ran a story about it. But it didn’t end there. National media picked it up as a new business trend and Social Strata was put on the map as a trend-setting tech company.
  3. Comment on blog posts and articles. This is the very best way for a journalist or blogger to get to know you. When you make smart comments on the articles they’re producing, you build a relationship. When you build a relationship, they are much more willing to talk to you about your story. Some, in fact, will even help you mold the story if it’s not an exact fit. Think about that from your own perspective. How many of you have commented here and we’ve become friends that way? It works.
  4. Don’t send a long email. We are all busy. If you send an email that has everything anyone could ever possibly want to know about you, it won’t be read. Take the approach Rosemary used and send a quick, attention grabbing email. The details can come later.
  5. Lose the idea of control. Yes, when you have an interview, you should be prepared. You should ask the journalist or blogger ahead of time what kinds of questions you can expect to be asked. Use those questions to figure out what you want to say. But you cannot control the end result messaging. Your one or two messages might get repeated, but you cannot control the interview.
  6. Use the social networks. If you have targeted publications or journalists in your industry, find them on their social networks. Find them on Twitter, then add them to a Twitter list so you see everything they tweet. Find a reason to connect with them there, even if it’s just to introduce yourself, and keep the conversation going every day. Soon enough you’ll find something they are working on that is a fit for you.
  7. Read their articles. Unless they’re in TV, most journalists have something you can read and comment on. Many will read the comments on their articles to source new people to call. If you offer a differing opinion or provide more information on the topic, it’s highly likely they will contact you for future stories. (Case in point: The comment I left on a USA Today article that led to the journalist to reconsider.)
  8. Send something in the mail. The joke among authors is, when you publish a book, all you really have is an expensive business card. But it works really well as a gift to journalists whose radar you want to get on. If you haven’t written a book, send a copy of a book from an author you admire. Even a handwritten note works extremely well in todays fast-paced, impersonal digital world.
  9. Personalize your pitches. It’s pretty easy to write a news release about your latest big new thing, copy it into an email, add a bunch of email addresses, and hit send. But that rarely works (see example above). You’ve spent all this time getting to know your industry journalists. Don’t insult them by sending them the same thing you sent to everyone else on your list.
  10. Be available to talk about industry trends. There will be times you don’t have any new news to share, or the news you do have doesn’t fit what your targeted journalists are writing about. However, they may draw on you to comment on industry trends or news. While it may be just a quote in a bigger story, the strategy here is to be helpful as often as possible. The you scratch my back philosophy comes into play, and you might end up with a bigger story centered around you.

Going through this media relations process takes time. A lot of time.

The reason you hire a professional is not just because they have relationships you need. It’s  because (if they’re good) they use this process every, single day.

But you can do it yourself if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, get your hands a little dirty, and be patient.

Today’s Exercise

Set your timer for 30 minutes and get to work on the following exercise.

  1. Choose one newspaper, magazine, or blog that makes a difference in your industry. It can be the Wall Street Journal or it can be one of your trade publications. Choose just one.
  2. Once a week, comment on one article, blog post, or editorial. If you disagree, fantastic! Say so. But do it professionally. Being negative or criticizing without a solution isn’t helpful. Professional discourse is.
  3. Hyperlink Web-based resources related to your comments. Cite professional journals in your own work. You want to make it easy for the journalist.
  4. Keep this up.
  5. After about six weeks, the journalist will feel like he or she is beginning to know you and a relationship will begin to blossom. At that point, you can begin your give and take relationship. They’ll likely take your phone calls or return your emails, if you’re smart about how you approach them.
  6. Every quarter add another publication, so you have four that you focus on each year.
  7. Don’t be afraid to go after the big publications. If your expertise adds value to the stories they’re reporting, comment away!

All you need to do today is create your list, prioritize them, and leave your first comment.

Set your timer and go!

The Scavenger Hunt

And speaking of Rosemary O’Neill, if you are participating in the Spin Sucks scavenger hunt, today you will visit her blog.

The secret word is in her blog post, “Is Running a Branded Online Community Risky Business?

Just write down the secret word in Rosemary’s box on your scavenger hunt card (if you don’t have a card, download it here).

We have through March 3, so keep playing along (and you can work backwards, if you’re just starting out).

And don’t forget…if you buy a copy of Spin Sucks between now and March 8, we’ll send you a fun package full of goodies to use in your office, including a Spin Sucks computer sticker, a Spin Sucks Sharpie, and more. I’ll even personalize and sign a nameplate for you to put in the front of your book.

Just email the receipt to iboughtspinsucks@armentdietrich.com. Please include your mailing address so we know where to send the package.

Now get to work! Thirty minutes. Go!

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.

  • Spin. Sucks. Sharpie. = Heaven (oh and this post was pretty great too!)

  • biggreenpen I love Sharpies so it seems like something everyone should get!

  • You know, *I’m* getting lots of email lately where I’m saying “Um, what?” – lots of spam, and lots of “daily updates” stuff as well. When did *adding people without permission* become ok?? And little do those people realize, *I’m* in Canada – with one of the toughest anti-spam laws in the world!! Mwaaaa-hahahaha!!  (I’m just not that mean, but oh, I wish I was sometimes.)

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen I am quite sure many of the world’s problems can be cured by the right person wielding a sharpie.

  • biggreenpen LOL

  • belllindsay Adding people without permission is NOT OK. If you want to see something fun, go read Jason Falls’s Twitter stream. He got in a fight with the CEO of a PR firm because they did that. She was super nasty about it and then finally backed down. It’s entertaining.

  • Great post, and I think similar rules apply to people who “cold call” for services. I’ve had someone harassing me by email and phone for about 3 months now, when I never expressed interest in the first place.

    By the way, being in the scavenger hunt today, I feel like I’m at a surprise party hiding behind the couch waiting to jump out and yell “surprise!” This was so fun, thanks for including me!

  • ldiomede

    I do love this post. Sadly, in my earlier years, sending out a blanket email to your “list” was how agencies trained new recruits. I’m sure it’s still happening. Yet, it’s common sense that you would never form any relationship this way. C’mon, let’s all just use some common sense!

  • stephenkentmoore

    Great post. When I first started in comms, we shot out mass emails all of the time. We had terrible open rates. 

    There are two ways that I’ve had a lot of success personalizing pitches or actually helping journalists.

    1. Know the reporters who cover your industry and get to know their quirks or the stories they’re obsessed about. I always kept my eyes out for exclusive information related to their obsessions. When I find it, I send it their way at the optimal time. Reporters are always receptive.

    2. Always watch the latest research. Discuss it with them. Share it with them. A lot of reporters think comms folk are hacks. Proving you have chops goes a long way.

  • Yeah, but I’ll bet you aren’t deleting those e-mails from Nigeria helping a prince secure his inheritance, huh? 

    Bottom line, people are looking for shortcuts and by throwing many lines in the water they are hoping for at least one or two bites. These ‘people’ need to get back to the basics and build it the ‘right’ way.

  • I HATE this. It’s not just PR firms. It’s almost every person I meet through networking and at conferences. We have a nice talk, share information, agree to stay in touch. Then suddenly I’m on their monthly (or weekly) email newsletter list! It really ticks me off. 

    I have never added a single person to my list — they all have to opt in themselves. My mother heard about my updates and wanted in. I made HER sign up herself!

    Seth Godin wrote about this, what, 15 years ago???

  • What you’re talking about here takes effort, but some PR people just want to be able to say, yep, I contacted a bazillion people, did my job. 

    Our mar com office gets calls from a media/sales person who makes the rounds from one person to the next, never bothering to note that “Amanda said she doesn’t handle the IT budget for the entire organization, check” or “They said they don’t use that tool, check.” Instead she just keeps pitching whatever. 

    Yesterday I even tried to have a human conversation with her, and she kept trying to get me to answer her questions with one word instead of actually listening to me. “So your answer is ‘undecided’?” Oh, no, lady. I’ve definitely decided. 

    I have a small list of media contacts, not hundreds or thousands, and I’ve worked hard to build it and nurture those relationships, because that’s what they are, relationships. Two way streets.

    I’ve said this here before, but starting in the newspaper industry was the best education for me today in PR. Love this post, Gini.

  • allpointspr100

    Any and all marketing and PR has to be personal. If it is canned, it will be canned. Thanks for the post, Gini. 
    _____________________________
    Jamie I
    All Points PR — Chicago PR Agency
    http://allpointspr.com

  • I never get pitched on the business side but on my parenting sites? All the time. And even you know, Gini, that my sites are for parents of OLDER kids so believe me that my patience runs thin when a PR firm comes along to pitch me on their products, services, magic wands for babies and toddlers. 9 times out of 10 I just delete them but on special days, I take the time to respond that I am so glad they enjoyed by site. Nothing says you’re special like a blanket BCC.

  • AndrewTeixeira

    Worked with Social Strata and Rosemary on a project last year – she’s awesome!

  • Word Ninja “Oh, no, lady. I’ve definitely decided.” – LOLOL!!

  • RobBiesenbach Your poor mom.

  • stephenkentmoore Ooooh, number one is SO SMART!!

  • ginidietrich Oh my. You KNOW how much I love to lurk!!! LOL

  • AndrewTeixeira She IS awesome!

  • KristenDaukas OMG. I can just imagine what you get. It has to be 1,000 times worse than what I get.

  • allpointspr100 Amen.

  • Word Ninja LOL!! “Oh, no, lady. I’ve definitely decided.” I see Lindsay liked that, too.

  • RobBiesenbach I HATE THAT, TOO! There is a very well-known social person (HUGE brand) who does this. I keep unsubscribing and he keeps adding me.

  • bdorman264 I am most decidedly NOT deleting those.

  • stephenkentmoore You’re hired!

  • ldiomede I was actually thinking about this this morning, Lisa. I think it’s how we all started out in PR. I remember sending gigantic, super expensive media kits with product in them to journalists…without contacting them ahead of time. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But that’s how things were done back then. Today? Not so much.

  • rosemaryoneill I really love how you used today’s word in your blog post. Very clever!

  • ginidietrich belllindsay Ha, then you would have loved the moment she then called my colleague and he jumped out of his chair, pointed at me menacingly, and made a mad face. Like it was my fault she called him next!

  • ginidietrich RobBiesenbach I just don’t get it. One of the best things about PR people blogging is that we now get irrelevant pitches. That should be a good daily reminder that we’ve got to stop doing the same! And Rob, I just subscribed! For some reason, I thought I’d already done that.

  • rosemaryoneill That’s what I was ranting about in my comment. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m wondering if they get points for every level they reach in the call. Like 1 point for getting their questionnaire answered, 2 for getting my email address, 300 for not getting hung up on…

  • Word Ninja belllindsay LMAO!!!!!! I would have paid to see that. Seriously.

  • martinwaxman The problem, Martin, is the people who pitch this way don’t read blogs or do any professional development. They just do what they’re told.

  • AndrewTeixeira You’re too kind! Thanks so much, good to see you!

  • AndrewTeixeira What is Wine for the World?!

  • belllindsay From your mouth to God’s ears. Wouldn’t be the first time she heard that. Now people say it about my wife.

  • Word Ninja rosemaryoneill Exactly. I almost want to answer the call from this person so that I can give her a piece of my mind, but then I know she’ll get credit for getting me to pick up! It’s maddening.

  • ginidietrich rosemaryoneill Thank you madame, there’s nothing a little Tom Cruise reference won’t remedy.

  • ginidietrich You must name names!
    martinwaxman Thank you!

  • ginidietrich KristenDaukas I don’t get nearly as many pitches as you guys get. But what really annoys me is when I do take the time (after their 3rd attempt) to quickly explain that I am the wrong target for their pitch? I get no response! They could at least apologize for wasting my time!

  • RobBiesenbach ginidietrich KristenDaukas YES!!  That annoys the heck out of me as well!

  • Really helpful! I pretty much ruined this portion of my Spin Sucks copy with highlights, scribbles and folded pages while reading on the plane, but that’s a sign of awesome content (so, kudos!).
    As always, I do have one question for you scribbled into my book that I completely forgot about until now. (And I promise I’m not trying to make you write another post!)
    I love the idea of tip number three, and think it would work well if I was trying to get myself into PR/ industry pubs, but how would one do that for a client? For example, we have a legal client, and I would love to build relationships with some writers who cover his practice/ area of expertise, but me reading/ commenting would feel strange since I’m not the legal expert. And he’s crazy busy, so he wouldn’t have time to read and respond. My only thought is to read, find articles he can comment on then send them over to the client and suggest he comment, but I’m not sure he’d have time to follow through.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated! 
    And, side note, I just heard someone the other day say “I’m just going to blast this out to my list” and felt sick to my stomach. Blast? Is that really still a thing? Le sigh.

  • Awesome post!

    The most amazing thing to me (and I see it echoed in the comments here) is often even when you try to help a someone make a pitch more personal they are often so caught in their “bot” mentality they still can’t respond to you in a human fashion. As RobBiesenbach noted with responding to say you are the wrong target (I’ve even suggested better ones) and getting no response– after they bombarded your email five zillion times, or Word Ninja recent experience. 

    My favorite of late is a pitch I got addressed “Dear Admin,” I responded asked a few questions (my signature was included in the response, with my name clearly in it.) I got a response “Admin, Thank you for responding.” I responded again, “my name is Laura,” and continued with additional questions…..and yet…the email response back was STILL addressed to admin! 

    Stories like this show how clearly many people doing media relations have lost sight of the goals–
    1) a win/win story (where the reporter provides a story their readers enjoy and the organization gets a placement in a publication that is trusted by their consumer,)

    2) Building a longer term relationship 

    Even if by mere chance your blind news release spraying results in a placement, it will never be as high quality of one as if personalized your pitch and focused on relationships. Likewise, you’ve become a one hit wonder (with most likely a crappy story.) vs. connecting in a way that opens future placement opportunities.

  • RobBiesenbach ginidietrich You’re right, Gini. So it’s something that has to change at the manager/director level (or above). The funny thing is spray and pray never worked and really hurt the industry’s reputation and credibility. And yet, we continue to play the odds like a rube in a casino. (I don’t often get to use the word rube, so thanks.)

    And Rob, you’re welcome!

  • kvneisen

    arikhanson aimclear ginidietrich interesting – had never heard the “comment on their article” tip. Makes sense tho.

  • aimclear

    kvneisen arikhanson ginidietrich It can help build a relationship, I think. ^kw

  • LauraPetrolino  You should have replied using the admin@spinsucks account.

  • Jennafriend

    I am a very small company (just me) doing PR and promotions for reggae artistes.  I have thought about using an email blast to target DJs but have been very reluctant. Sending personalized emails takes up a lot of time but the results far outweigh the time spent. Thank you for confirming I’m on the right track.

  • My relative social media anonymity precludes me from being pitched. However when I follow back someone on twitter I do occasionally receive a nice impersonal private  message encouraging me to follow them on LinkedIn or somewhere. Twitter messages beginning with my real first name are the ones I pay attention to. 

    As per #3 – I only comment here for a shot at the spin swag.

  • Digital_DRK LauraPetrolino You need to refer to me as Admin Petrolino from now on please.

  • Jennafriend side note: Portland, Maine (oddly) has a huge reggae fan population….you might want to investigate some targeted pitching over here if you haven’t already (you might know this…but just in case since it’s a rather surprising and odd fact.)

  • Digital_DRK You mean your name isn’t “Digital?”

  • Gini, thank you for creating my lecture for me today for my PR writing students. You left out one line though and one source: The Bloggess (aka Jenny Lawson, mommy blogger and former journalist) when she tangled with PR firm Blandlink over irrelevant pitches – about the Kardashians and their panty hose, of all things. “Reply All” had a starring role, too. If you’re not familiar with her, she has over 150K followers and somewhere between 1.5 – 2 million monthly page views, and I show this story to my writing students each quarter for multiple reasons.

    From Jose at Brandlink: “but maybe you should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough to be pitched at all instead of alienated PR firms and PR people – who are actually the livelihood of any journalists business. 
    From The Bloggess: “You sure know how to flatter a girl. Are you even in
    public relations? Am I on Candid Camera? Because I’m kind of baffled.

    Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.”
    And then she turned her “dogs” loose: All 160,000+ of her followers, many of whom are bloggers themselves. It made the mainstream news in less than 48 hours, which is where I heard about it. The CEO of Brandlink had to get out of bed (she was home with the flu, allegedly) and get on Facebook and Twitter to put out the flames, and The Bloggess eventually went online to call off the flame war.

    And the line? That’s mine: “If I ever hear of you doing this (pitching like this) when you’ve graduated, I will hunt you down and beat you.” Hopefully they will take me seriously just enough to pitch the right way.

  • Jennafriend

    LauraPetrolino Jennafriend Thanks Laura…yes that is surprising and I will look into connections there.

  • Just because I was curious, I looked up Jason in Cision. Sure enough, he was listed. And even though it clearly states he’s not a PR contact, the fact that he’s in there probably leads most PR people to believe it’s okay to contact him. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying.

    Second, one e-mail should be the max. Follow it up with a phone call, or two. (Just don’t leave a voicemail.) I cringed reading about PR pros sending follow-up emails to make sure it was at the top of the inbox. So passive aggressive.

  • LauraPetrolino  bahaaaa  Admin.

  • LauraPetrolino Oh my word! That made me laugh out loud, but out of incredulity! Who thinks someone’s name is admin! And who is paying such little attention that after being corrected twice, they STILL called you Admin?

  • Jen Novotny It always starts as a chuckle of disbelief, and then one day you realize its the the petro-power fumes of LauraPetrolino (aka Admin) that have you in that happy state.

  • missusP

    Great tips, Gini. I love the recommended exercises. I’m a huge advocate of commenting on posts – show journalists that you’re paying attention and reading what they write (especially at times when you aren’t asking them for something!)

    One question though – even if you do all of these things and start a relationship, unless you explicitly ask if you can email them, isn’t reaching out with a pitch still the category of spam that Jason is taking about? Or is he just referring to newsletters? Because it sounds like he’s referring to getting pitched at all. What’s your advice to PR pros about how and when to email a journalist if you’ve never had a chance to ask them if you can? Do you ask every journalist if you can pitch them before you do? Curious. Your advice is good, but can you and Jason elaborate for the younger PR brethren what the difference is between a “blast list” and an unsolicited “individual outreach” as Jason says (and he states those are ‘ok’)? Might be helpful to clarify that. And are they viewed the same by each journalist?

    I started out pitching (eons ago) on the phone and it was a much different world then. I am sure the newbie Pro pros are very intimidated when they hear all of this talk about “outing PR” and “spam.” And you’re right – if they do their homework and research ahead of time, there’s really nothing to “out.” At PerkettPR, we had Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe post our exact email pitch on his blog. Not because he was outing us, but because he said it told the story perfectly so why should he rewrite it? So do your job well and getting “outed” can result in a perfect story with all your key messages included 😉

    Christine Perkett
    SeeDepth – PR Analytics for Brands and Agencies
    @missusP
    http://www.seedepth.com

  • AndrewTeixeira

    ginidietrich AndrewTeixeira It’s a social enterprise focused on economic development through winemaking – I helped run their crowdsourcing campaign. http://www.wine4theworld.com 🙂

  • patmrhoads

    Jennafriend LauraPetrolino Although from the opposite side of the country (Seattle), I happen to have a connection via Twitter to a social media professional who lives in Portland, ME. I have no idea at all if she’s into reggae music or knows anyone in the music industry there, but you could check out her Twitter stream to see if there might be a connection of some kind: https://twitter.com/jennimacdonald

  • SMVermillion This is how we do it… we read the articles, summarize the piece, write bullet points for a comment, and send it (with the link) to the client. It takes a little bit of time to get them in the habit of doing it, but once they do, they’re golden. It takes less than 15 minutes a day for them (longer for us). 

    You also could flip that and use the tip to build relationships for you, as a PR pro. Comment on the articles and blog posts where you need to develop relationships to help your clients later. I’ve used this strategy and have made really good friends that way. Just the other day, the CEO of one of our clients called and asked if I could get him into a story he heard was being written. It was the first time I’d asked this particular journalist a favor and she jumped at being able to help me.

  • RobBiesenbach You don’t get a response? I almost always get the “well, this is why you’re wrong” response. As if I don’t know what I write about.

  • I have been on the receiving end of managers/directors who drop a 100-outlet media list (for one client) in your lap and want you to go make some magic. There are not enough hours in the day to cultivate fruitful relationships with 100 journalists. And honestly, why would you want to? Quantity over quality is just not effective. However, I think these managers are so old school that they think they can’t possibly go back to the client with a recommendation for a more targeted and focused list – probably because they don’t buy into it themselves and don’t think they could successfully sell the client on it.

    Also, I think there’s so much pressure to be “fast” – do the work fast, show results fast – that there’s not enough time allowed to do due diligence on who you’re pitching.

  • ginidietrich Thank you, Gini. Very helpful, and a smart approach. Looking forward to testing it out!

  • patmrhoads Jennafriend LauraPetrolino I’m in Portland as well Pat! Haha! Hence, why I know about their reggae culture. But yes, Jennifer MacDonald is an awesome contact there as well!

  • Jennafriend

    patmrhoads Jennafriend LauraPetrolino Thank you for the connections.

  • jenzings

    Jen Novotny I agree completely. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, it seems, about how much BETTER it is to get into a few publications that are well-matched to the audience, etc., but between the “do it fast” mindset and the “lots of hits” mindset, this horrible, terrible, no-good, very-bad, “spray-and-pray” method keeps getting used.

    It’s discouraging. The unfortunate result of having so many new outlets is to give the impression that the coverage is diluted, so people/clients seem to feel that there is a need to be in more outlets, not the “right” ones.

  • carole_m_scott

    ginidietrich surely we only need one – give the right story to the right journalist and they’ll know you, respect you and trust you.

  • RobBiesenbach LOL!! I’ll tell you what. I’ll subscribe you to his newsletter and you can try to unsubscribe.

  • ginidietrich

    DennyMcCorkle Thanks!

  • ginidietrich

    carole_m_scott AMEN!

  • ginidietrich

    kvneisen The commenting works ridiculously well.

  • patmrhoads

    LauraPetrolino Jennafriend Ha, totally blanked on that! And I’d already had my coffee, so I can’t blame that.

  • patmrhoads

    Jennafriend LauraPetrolino No worries! It IS hard to put yourself out there (at least I happen to think it is), but it almost always pays off. Best of luck.

  • kvneisen

    ginidietrich anything is better than tweet-spamming them!

  • ginidietrich

    kvneisen Seriously.

  • colincburns

    Thanks for these tips! I’ve found that in the digital world, effective communication really does requires a strong commitment to relationship building. With physical and verbal cues absent, digital communication requires more effort to establish trust than does in-person conversation. Nobody will seriously consider an email that has clearly been sent out to the masses. I’m excited to share your tips with my marketing classmates!

    Colin Burns
    Tulane University

  • ginidietrich

    AnneIsenhower Thanks, Anne!

  • hleemorgan

    ginidietrich educating publicists one step at a time 🙂 #gogini

  • Rieva

    I’m a little confused here Gini. Are you saying PR people should ask a journalist/blogger for permission to email them a pitch?if that’s the case, then Good God NO!. I get SO MANY emails a day, most unsolicited. I don’t want even more from people asking for permission to email me. 

    It would be a wonderful thing if PR folks would understand what I cover and only send me relevant pitches. But if the pitch is small business/entrepreneurship related–I don’t (hope I don’t regret saying this) mind getting relevant on target pitches. I’ve found tons of people/topics to cover that way.

  • Digital_DRK Jen Novotny LauraPetrolino I’m hiring you as my promotor Digital

  • patmrhoads LauraPetrolino Jennafriend No worries Pat, half the time I can’t even keep up with where I’m living….or my car keys 😉

  • ginidietrich

    hleemorgan the problem is, those who need to be educated don’t read. Sad.

  • Rieva No, no! Good heavens, no! I’m saying exactly what you say in your second paragraph. Like you, I would go postal if I got a gazillion emails asking for my permission. Just figure out what I write about and pitch me appopriately.

  • colincburns Love this, Colin, and love that you’re using these tips while still in school. Bravo! This will set you apart from your competition.

  • Jen Novotny So what do you do in that case? Do you push back or do you try to work through the list?

  • jenzings Jen Novotny We spend A LOT of time (I mean, a lot) re-educating our clients on the proper way to do media relations. I have this conversation so often, it’s feels like a presentation you’ve given 100 times and you feel like it’s getting stale because you’re totally bored with it. But the person on the receiving end starts to understand it and change their thinking. It works, but man…it’s hard.

  • missusP I think it probably depends on the journalist or blogger. You cannot (by law) send an email to your Cision list with a news release and be done with it. You can, however, send an email to a journalist—even if it’s for the first time—that is personalized. I received one yesterday from a guy in the UK. I’ve never met him. He’s never even commented here. But he HAS read Spin Sucks and he knows we cover the PR industry. It was super relevant so it’s not spam.

  • bradmarley I don’t mind a follow-up email IF the original pitch was relevant to begin with and I just hadn’t had a chance to get to it yet. I’ve been working with someone at Syracuse. He sent a second, very polite, email. I responded that I am interested, but I needed a couple of weeks to get back to him. He hasn’t harassed me. I appreciate that.

  • ginidietrich Initially I tried to suggest/persuade that there was a better way. But when it was obvious my thoughts were falling on deaf ears, I just did the best I could with the humongous list. I would read try to read/skim at least at least one or two articles the journalists wrote (at least to make sure the pitch was appropriate), but I didn’t have time to cultivate the type of relationship you’re describing where you would comment and build the relationship over time.

  • DebraCaplick I’m confused. It’s a great story of media relations gone bad, for sure (I also have an opinion on outing PR pros in this way), but I don’t know that it would have added to my already super long blog post (1,500 words).

  • Digital_DRK LOL!! Why did you comment before the spin swag?

  • Jennafriend DON’T DO IT! LOL!

  • LauraPetrolino That was probably a spam bot, Laura. Great. Now we are all going to get a virus.

  • AndrewTeixeira I need to check this out! Super intriguing.

  • Jen Novotny That’s so frustrating! It sets you up for failure and doesn’t garner the kinds of results a client would want.

  • Jennafriend

    ginidietrich Jennafriend

  • ginidietrich   I didn’t realize the order of my comments would effect my chances of qualifying for swag.

  • Rieva

    ginidietrich Rieva Phew!

  • Digital_DRK ginidietrich Swag? What swag?!

  • DebraCaplick ginidietrich swag?  that is an auto correct typo, that should read “drag”, as in all these comments are a drag to read, no swag here.

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  • ginidietrich

    cr8tivejen Thanks!

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  • DesiraeF_PR

    This is right on the money! Putting the relations back in Public Relations is the direction all PR pros need to be heading. Thanks for the insight, ginidietrich

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