Gini Dietrich

Media Relations: How to Do it On Your Own

By: Gini Dietrich | August 6, 2013 | 

Media Relations: How to Do it On Your OwnBy Gini Dietrich

Yesterday I was strolling through Twitter when I saw a tweet from my new friend Rebekah Iliff that said, “Dear @Inc: You do a GRAVE disservice here” and it linked to a story called, “How to Do Your Own PR.”

I’m a big proponent of helping small business owners figure out how to do some of this themselves. After all, they typically can’t afford a firm or a soloproneur and journalists would much rather talk to the business owner versus a PR professional.

But, after reading the story, I agree with Rebekah. It not only does a grave disservice to the PR industry, but also to small business owners.

In the article, sales guru Geoffrey James says:

I know people who are paying as much $10,000 a month to a PR firm and getting very little out of it.  And that’s sad, because PR–getting positive media coverage–isn’t all that difficult.  Here’s how it’s done.

Then he goes on to list the following:

  1. Devise a story worth writing about.
  2. Create nuggets to insert into the story.
  3. Offer yourself as a story source.
  4. Control the interview.

What is PR?

Most of the Spin Sucks readers don’t need a PR lesson. You already know PR isn’t “getting positive media coverage.” I’m speaking to the first-time visitors.

PR isn’t just about getting positive media coverage.

If you’re spending $10,000 a month and “getting very little out of it,” there are a few things going wrong.

  1. Your PR firm are publicists and their only job is to secure media interviews.
  2. You haven’t given it enough time. Publications have lead times. Even blogs have lead times (we’re more than a month out).
  3. Your firm hasn’t helped set the right expectations.
  4. Your firm has set the right expectations, but you’re still unrealistic about it.
  5. Your firm doesn’t know how to measure their effectiveness to real business results (and they should check out Iris Public Relations Management to help them do so).
  6. Your firm isn’t integrating communications into their publicity efforts. For $10,000 a month, you should be getting more then media relations.

If you are interviewing PR firms and they aren’t talking about more than media relations, how to integrate paid, owned, and shared media in with the earned media, and results, keep interviewing.

In some cases, the results will be increased brand awareness and credibility, which aren’t measurable to dollars and cents, but they should be upfront with you about how that work integrates with some of the things that are measurable to cash.

Not Even PR Pros Get it Right Sometimes

The article James wrote starts out well. You do have to have a story. Having a new product or launching a new company or having a famous investor is not a story.

To figure out what it is that’s interesting to the journalists and bloggers you’ll be pitching, you have to read what they’re already writing.

For instance, this morning I woke up to 23 emails in my inbox that were pitches from PR professionals.

Of the 23, 21 of them were copy and paste news releases into an email.

I deleted them all without reading a single one.

The last two were personalized pitches. One was to interview the author who has written a book on how to raise your kids and the other was a franchise location opening somewhere in Mississippi.

I deleted both of those without response.

This is a PR and marketing blog. We don’t write about how to raise your kids, nor do we write about restaurant openings.

So, while they were personalized, it’s pretty clear the PR professionals did nothing more than do a mail merge. They didn’t read the blog. If they did, they would have saved some time and aggravation when I don’t respond.

How to Do 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 (and I caution you that it’s sometimes far less expensive to hire a professional the first time around), here are some things to consider.

  1. Read the blog, publications, 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 hosts really care about. Either your story fits them or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, no matter how badly you want a story in that publication, move on.
  2. Personalize your pitch. I love the story Rosemary O’Neill tells of how she pitched her company’s new unlimited paid time off policy in a two sentence email…and it became a top news story. She knew the blogger would love the story because she reads the blog and has commented there. All she had to do was send a quick email and it was picked up. And then it grew legs, being picked up in larger publications.
  3. Comment on blog posts and articles. This is the very best way for the journalist or blogger to get to know you. When you make smart comments on the stuff 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.
  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, they won’t read it. Take the approach Rosemary used and send a quick email that grabs their attention. 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 they expect to ask you. Use those questions to figure out what you want to say. But you cannot control the interview. You can be sure your one or two messages are repeated, but you cannot control the interview.

Going through this process takes time. The reason you hire a professional is not just because they have relationships you need, but 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 and get your hands a little dirty.

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.

  • I thought PR was free food and drink….
    To me, it seems there are a lot of things you ‘can’ do, but there are just some things that it is worth paying $5 to make $20 as well. Bring in the pros so you can stay in your sweet spot and do the things you do well much better. 
    I’m sure you saw during the last 5 years when people were protecting their bottom line sometimes PR firms were the first to get cut as we did it internally w/ our ‘PR’ guy. However, this is the time you probably need them the most….in my humble opinion.

    • bdorman264 We were one of the first to go in 2009 and 2010. It’s always how it is. One big client reduced our budget significantly and then said, “Whoa. This sucks. Our pipeline is stagnant.” Um, yes. That’s how it works.

      • ginidietrich bdorman264 That’s the hardest to get across to clients. When business is sluggish is precisely when you need to increase your marketing/PR/outreach — not cut it.

        • TaraGeissinger ginidietrich bdorman264 YEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS and YESSSS a little more 
          …oh and then YES
          So clift notes of this post…I agree with you!

  • MichaelBowers

    This post is right on. I like that you share what is involved in doing media relations. 
    I have often said that people open a small business because they like what they do. They didn’t get into business because they like the business stuff. Because they aren’t as knowledgeable about the business part they don’t know what to do and they do it wrong. I get so many small business owners bringing me press releases about a new product or that they are launching their business and my response to them is “so what”.  Beyond the lack of appeal they have done NO prep work. I ask them what they plan do do with the press release and they really don’t know. At that point I hold out my trash can.
    I realize that many small businesses are cash strapped but often times they really aren’t. If they looked at how they are spending their money and what other areas might be a better place to spend their money they could potentially bring in a PR professional to help them out. This “investment” in their business would certainly create a better result than the press release sitting in the bottom of my trash can.

    • MichaelBowers I actually now have a vision of you holding out your trash can. That is awesome! I should use that as the picture for this post. I think the issue expands on what you’re saying. Most think, “How hard can this be? I write a release and send it along and people write stories.” What they don’t realize is that is the totally wrong way of going about it.

  • ElissaFreeman

    OH man…#4 on your list speaks to me:  “unrealistic expectations.” I’m doing a proposal right now for a company that measures “success” for this particular RFP as X interviews in major cities.  What do I really want to write? “People! If you don’t know strategically where you’re going yet – how do you even KNOW what success looks like?!” We have a very long road to go in this industry, I tell ya…

    • ElissaFreeman I’ve gotten pretty bold about telling prospects their metrics are off if that’s what they’re looking for. Sometimes it loses us the business, but do you know how many of them call me six months later to see their current firm isn’t working out? Nearly all of them.

      • ginidietrich ElissaFreeman I think it is better to be honest with clients from the git go. You get a lot more respect in the long run.

  • ‘The Process takes time’
    As a society we have come to highly value things that are quick and now, with very little thought about quality or longer term results/effects. This very much extends into PR and the entire integrated communications process. Heck, I can barely keep a potential client’s focus long enough to help me gather enough information from them to put together a worthwhile analysis and proposal of what they really need. And so disillusioned small business owners continue to get screwed over and over because instead of appreciating the power of a comprehensive longer term communications model and seeing it as an investment, they’ll choose a guru who promises short term crap…served up ‘hot, fast and now’.
    Grrrrrreat article (and for some reason I said that ‘great’ in my head like Tony the Tiger…so please note this)

    • LauraPetrolino The analogy I always use (and you’ll appreciate this, too) is the lose weight quick schemes. So people go on these diets and they lose a bunch of weight and then, six months later, they’ve gained it all back and then some.
      Same thing here. You might get a quick story or two, but it has no legs or long-term effect.

      • YES! Exactly!!!!
        Sure you’ll lose weight eating 200 calories of egg whites daily. Heck I’ll even put you in a silver sweat suit that plays ‘eye of a tiger’ when you walk into the room, so you can pretend you are some modern Rocky doing it, but in the end you’ll be left with a screwed up metabolism and an ugly ass sweatsuit!

        • LauraPetrolino …can I have a silver sweat suit?

        • RebeccaTodd LauraPetrolino Apparently not everyone thinks the sweatsuit is ugly!

        • Yes! For just 19 easy payments of 19.99! And if you order now we will monogram it RAT

        • LauraPetrolino ZOMG YESSSSS!

        • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd LauraPetrolino 
          This is only another piece of evidence in favor of #petropower world domination. People NEED my help, guidance and leadership

    • LauraPetrolino I read it like Tony the Tiger too…didn’t even have to mention that 😉

      • yvettepistorio LauraPetrolino Well obviously! I mean come on Yvette, it is no secret that we share the same triple gold star rating cool factor! We’rrrreeee Grrrrrrrrrreat!

        • yvettepistorio It is almost embarrassing how much I’m cracking myself up right now!

        • LauraPetrolino hahahaha!! Oh, you’re cracking me up too 🙂

  • Nice work G! It always leaves an icky feeling when a so-called “professional” in one discipline can lambaste another profession so… Not very professional to me. 
    Sure, there must be PR firms who are not ethical and not doing a bad job- there are poor examples in any industry…like sales *cough cough*. But to write off a whole industry of professionals is very short-sighted. 
    Now I didn’t take the time to read the first article because you are my trusted source, G. But that list of 4 points he made? Ugh. All smack of slimy old-school sales tactics. This “knowledge disparity” strategy. Modern sales people are much different, and follow an approach much close to yours- we build relationships with our customers when it works for THEM, not just when we need something. 
    Now here’s a thought- I would love to see G interview this Geoffrey and have him try and “Control the Interview”…

    • RebeccaTodd The “control the interview” one made me see red. It’s old school tactics that don’t fit the way the media works today. Yes, those tips worked 10 years ago. Not so much today. He talked about bridging and blocking and flagging…it seriously made me see red.

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd Alright, I will go read the post. But please know that *most* sales people know better, as do *most* media relations people. 
        Ever feel we should write a book on sales? Just sayin’…

        • RebeccaTodd ginidietrich I skimmed it and yeah – pretty old-school slimy. Not once did he mention building relationships with people. Rather he mentioned “ongoing relationships.” *face palm*

        • RebeccaTodd Did you read it??

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd Yes, because we all know how easy it is to control an interview. *grabs bridle and tranquilizer gun*

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd Yes, Gini invite Geoffrey James to an interview right her on @spinsucks. Brilliant idea Rebecca. He may oblige, he’s trying to sell a book. 😉

        • EdenSpodek RebeccaTodd I feel like I’d be inviting him into the lion’s den.

  • Thanks for the shout out Gini!  You are so right on about taking time…because it’s all about relationships. Also I spewed my coffee when I got to the point about “controlling the interview.” Now that’s funny.

    • rosemaryoneill It made my blood boil! I saw red when I read that.

  • Wait — you mean all I have to do to get press is…do it all myself and tell people how fabulous I am? Sonofa… *grabs Ginsu knives* I AM PR AND SO CAN YOU! <fail>

    • Erika Napoletano Don’t mess with my Ginsu knives, they have solved every problem I have ever had. Correction. Ginsu knives, duct tape and my good friend Dr. Google. 😉
      What is good is not cheap and what is cheap is not good. There are very few real shortcuts.

    • Erika Napoletano That is ALL you have to do!

  • Randy Milanovic

    Sounds terribly familiar. In the 90s we didn’t need film houses any more because you could simply buy a Mac. In the 00s we didn’t need artists any more because Aldus Freehand could draw text of a circle. In the 10s we don’t need PR any more because we can post an article to our blog… Over time, those assertions prove false, while at the same time, they force us to look at other ways to practice our crafts.

    • Randy Milanovic You raise a very good point. Kind of like not needing a photographer because we all have cameras on our phones.

      • bobledrew

        ginidietrich Randy Milanovic I believe that your hometown paper thinks that, don’t they, Ms. D?

  • littlegiantprod

    Lead time is everything.  I have worked with magazines and had to pay close attention to their columns, beats, calendars, and special issues to fit in a possible feature or mention.  Even so with bloggers.  Especially mommy bloggers who work with an editorial calendar and are booked far in advance. Agree on the pitch email format.  I find crafting a pitch email in bullet points and/or short simple form is best for the journalist.  They’re working on deadline just as much as the PR pro.  Thanks Gini.

    • littlegiantprod I used to do food PR. I loved doing food PR. But the lead times for the consumer and food publications was six months. So you’d work for nearly a year before seeing any results. Not a single client had a problem with that back then because they knew that’s how it works. Now people think, because of the web, there should be a story the day after you pitch it. Not so much.

  • MWPRINCight

    Thank you. Thank you. It infuriates me when folks sift PR down to just pushing out releases and generating positive media. Where’s the strategic planning? Where’s the integration of all forms of communications? Not everyone can do PR, especially crisis brand management. Don’t belittle the profession. Again, thank you.

    • MWPRINCight It makes me nuts, too. I run a PR firm so I rarely do any media relations anymore. I do a ton of strategy development though and that might include someone on my team doing media relations. It makes me crazy when people think PR = publicity.

  • Sjeanne06

    I absolutely, whole-heartedly agree here! The struggle that I sometimes run into is exactly what you mentioned – getting the client to see the long-term goal of strategic planning and integration… they always want immediate results.  It’s difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t have a “marketing mindset” that there is no “PR fairy” that sprinkles stories strategically into publications where they would like to be featured… But, when that message DOES get through – the relationship gets better, there’s more understanding and open communication, and they “get” what we do and why we do it; and, maybe most importantly the value we (PR professionals) bring to the table…

    • Sjeanne06 DANG IT! I wish I’d thought of creating an image for this post with a PR Fairy. Dang, dang, dang!!

  • I laughed, literally, when I read controlling the interview. Ain’t gonna happen. I’ll fire a reporter that lets someone trying to get PR control an interview. Let me say it again….in my realm, reporters losing control of interviews is an offense that can cost them their job.

    I woke up this morning to a bunch of pitches and after reading this I went back and counted. There were 42 pitches or press release submissions, 41 from people who work in the PR field professionally. One of those is a standard press release from a local non-profit agency and we’ll run that. The other 40 from PR pros I deleted. 
    The final pitch is from a LOCAL business owner. He made a donation to United Way and sent me a photo. He made a hefty donation to a local non-profit and sent a photo with a couple of sentences. He noticed we’d run a similar photo for another business a couple weeks ago and asked if we could do the same for him.
    Of course we can.
    Now, this isn’t part of some marketing strategy. He did a good thing (it was a big donation) and he deserves some credit for it. But honestly, I’m not sure it will do much good beyond making the business owner feel good – and he’ll probably get a few atta boys from his family/customers. And that’s OK.
    Simple fact. The ONLY sure-fire 100 percent guaranteed way to make sure your message gets in my paper and that you 100 percent control it? Buy an ad.

    • ClayMorgan No mincing words. Valuable perspective.

    • ClayMorgan ginidietrich belllindsay Sounds like the start of a great guest post to me:  “What your press release looks like to the press”  or some such. Please?

      • creativeoncall ClayMorgan ginidietrich belllindsay Oh really great idea, Chuck!

      • bobledrew

        creativeoncall ClayMorgan ginidietrich belllindsay I love this idea. Get three assignment editors and put them in a google hangout or something, have them explain their day. How many pitches do they get? What’s their newshole look like? How do they make their decisions?

        • bobledrewcreativeoncallClayMorganginidietrichbelllindsayus Ninja Interview Masters can control the interview. 

        • bobledrew

          Howie Goldfarb bobledrew creativeoncall ClayMorgan ginidietrich belllindsay My preferred metaphor for interviews has always been the dance. A great (where great = incisive, informative, and fair to the guest and the audience) interview requires collaboration between the asker and the answerer of questions. 
          One of the nicest things I’ve ever had said to me by someone I interviewed was that I made them think of their expertise in a new way.

    • ClayMorgan I think you make several smart points here … one in particular is that of having local (aka relevant) news. Also, I completely agree about buying an ad!

    • ClayMorgan When we do media training, we do coach clients on how to bring the journalist back to the main point, if the interview goes off into a tangent. But to control the interview? That’s ludicrous.

  • I hate when people make the PR process seem like the easiest job in the world; like we can just pick up the phone and call a reporter to write our story. And the fact that it’s in Inc. Magazine makes it even worse.
    Contrary to popular belief, we have specialized skills. (Or is it “skillz”?)
    Thanks for writing this, ginidietrich.

    • bradmarley Someone in the comments said, “Isn’t anyone at Inc paying attention to what their writers are writing?”

  • Like running to your local pharmacy for some aspirin when you are in the midst of a major heart attack. The pharmacist can dispense a temporary band aid but you have lost valuable time and your results may be deadly.

    • annelizhannan I have a great story that has nothing to do with this post, but everything to do with your analogy. In 2007, we were in Atlanta  doing a satellite media tour. We were in the parking lot of Home Depot. It was windy. I was in the green room and the wind blew up, catching the tent (green room), and knocking the TV monitor I was watching on to my foot. It caused a compound fracture and I went into shock. But, not wanting me to see my bone sticking out of my foot, one of my colleagues threw a garbage bag over it and our client went to Walgreens for ice and bandages. I HAD A BONE STICKING OUT OF MY FOOT and he thought ice and bandages would fix it.

      • ginidietrich That is some story! I want to giggle but obviously traumatic for all.  It sounds like everyone needed to be treated for shock. I won’t ask what a bag of ice felt like on a compound break. 
        Couldn’t they remember the digits 911 and are those colleagues in crisis management 😉 By the way, seems like I have previously read about you and broken bones. Hmm…good thing I know very little about psychology or I could come up with some whopper diagnoses;)

        • annelizhannan I’m a little accident prone. It’s the tom boy in me.

        • ginidietrich Yes, I see that mostly on FB, but you are always a lady to me. Of course I would never cross you as your barista would have my head 😉

  • I’m feeling that pain…while loving your posting.

    From my perspective, as a website presence waiting to
    actually be a presence…or not, you’ve provided, as have those adding their
    voices, a reinforcement to what I’ve come to understand; professionals cannot,
    and should not be eliminated from the equation.
    Prior to embarking on my website project, I read every piece
    I could find on how to get my concept launched. It was nearly unanimous to find
    those I started recognizing as “in the know” stressed the importance
    of professional PR. Thus, it was included in my initial budget.
    Eight years later, and after mind-boggling cost overruns, a
    website was launched with zero left for what should have been the top
    priority…professional PR. You in the professional PR world (nearly everyone
    here) don’t even need me to type the following words…no traffic…no buzz.
    Moving forward, what’s my number one priority? Building up my coffers,
    in order to do it correctly!

    • SJSnelling The other day, joecardillo sent me a really interesting article about how to launch a startup. It wasn’t about PR or creating buzz. It was about spending as much time as you with your first 20 customers. It’s counter-intuitive to spend that much time with so few customers, but the argument was that is how you scale. Make those 20 as happy as you can and they’ll become your ambassadors. And maybe one of them has PR experience!

  • susancellura

    It’s sad that people have forgotten that it’s about building relationships. That is how business used to be done, so it is not a novel concept. What is “new” is social media and all the vehicles that can be used to get a message out. But if you have no one to share your story with, nothing is going to happen.

    • susancellura Relationship building and SOCIAL media. People think they can automate everything and then they’re astounded when it doesn’t work. Tsk, tsk.

      • susancellura

        One has to be human. Remind me to tell you how a mistake I made actually enhanced my relationships with some editors.

  • I wonder why he thought he could write about this topic? There’s that ego popping up again … It’s embarrassing!

    PR takes MAJOR time. That’s one of the big reasons you need help. As a business owner, I have to admit that the hardest part about doing PR for my own brand (a brand that orchestrates PR for others no less!!)) is the time it takes time. I’ve even considered getting help with my own PR for sheer lack of time.

    I understand, as you said, in the beginning you may not have the money to hire a professional, in which case you have to do your own PR. All I can say is work hard to get past that point and then let someone else do the heavy lifting for you.

    • KateFinley Your last paragraph is exactly where I have found myself…it certainly wasn’t my plan, yet when I had to face it…you know the rest.

      • SJSnelling You have to do what you have to do. Luckily, you’re reading smart resource like these posts from Gini. Lots to glean here.

      • SJSnelling KateFinley It certainly isn’t a bad thing to do it yourself. But we need professionals talking about the right way to do it and “control the interview” ain’t it.

        • ginidietrich SJSnelling KateFinley Possibly on an interim basis (out of necessity), yet when one answers the question, “what would you define as your target audience” and the realistic answer is every owner-occupied, single-family, detached homeowner except those is California…choke!
          Professionals are the ONLY honest answer.
          Speaking of answers…this topic appears to be headed to the “viral” category! Great posting!

  • I have so often heard, “They’re paying $10K/month to such-and-such PR firm and are getting nothing out of it.” It makes me wonder what they were expecting, if the firm knew what they were expecting and a lot of other things you address here. If they’re not getting anything out of it, why don’t they talk to the firm and express that? Or, they made a bad choice when they hired a firm.
    I’ve also been on the receiving end of SO MANY bad pitches from PR firms, over 20 years in journalism I very rarely ever received a real PR pitch that actually related to me. The few times I did, those sources became trusted and I would go out of my way to get a bit of news from them in the paper somewhere because they went out of their way to make sure I got what I needed (even if it wasn’t necessarily their first choice in what they would have wanted me to focus on).

    • AmyVernon PR is so last century anyway ya know. I mean for reals it has totally gone the way of the manual typewriter.

      • Howie Goldfarb Meanwhile, I’m totally confused at what Livefyre is pulling as my last blog post.

        • AmyVernon Howie Goldfarb Um, did you click on it?? LOL!

        • ginidietrich Howie Goldfarb I did! That was what caused me to actuall comment. lololol

    • AmyVernon THAT is exactly right! I don’t know how many PRSA luncheons I sat in where journalists said exactly what you’re saying. People would take furious notes and then go back to their office and keep doing it the same old way.

  • I can’t imagine thinking PR is an easy “do-it-yourself” sort of thing. I find writing my sales material for my novels to be a challenge and I have no idea how to write a news release, pitch, or any of the dozens of other things I’m sure PR people do with ease.
    When I have $10,000 per month, I’ll definitely hire you, Gini!

  • EdVanHerik

    It’s an interesting issue. A colleague and I are wrapping up a book on media relations for nonprofit and small-business executives, and we tell them that it will give them an idea of whether they want to do the work themselves or hire a professional. 
    One thing we point out is that it is time-consuming to learn a new skill and media relations is time-consuming to practice well. Do they really want to spend their time that way? 
    Like other posters suggest, we also put the issue in the larger context of a communications strategy, setting goals, timelines, budgets, etc. 
    We’re hoping that, at a minimum, executives who read the book with have realistic expectations of what to expect from a media relations campaign.

    • EdVanHerik Heck, I am a communications professional and I’d rather hire it out!

  • bobledrew

    There are so many things that need to be questioned in the post. Why not invite Mr. James on board the SS Spin Sucks for a Livefyre Q&A? My favorite statement’s in the article’s subhead: “Why pay big money to a PR firm when it’s so easy to get media coverage?” 
    Leaving aside the fact that PR firms do much more than media relations… when I did more media training than I do now, I used to regularly check in with some assignment editors in my local media market and ask them if they kept track of how many pitches they got per day. Here was the (paraphrased) answer I used to use: 
    I’m the assignment editor for XXXX news, the local supper-hour newscast. We have 44 minutes after commercials. 6-7 minutes of that is weather. 7-9 is sports. 10-12 is national and international news. That leaves 16 minutes of a local newshole. For those 16 minutes, on any given day, I’ll have about 200 story ideas to choose from. Those can come from people like you (PR folk), from reporters, from community organizations, by email, phone call, and even fax (yes, newsrooms still get faxes). 
    I used to tell clients that you shouldn’t get upset when you DON’T get a hit on the news; you should be  overjoyed when you DO.

    • bobledrew well in reality if you do one of the following you should easily get the coverage 
      Rob a bank wearing your brand T-Shirt.
      Drive your company truck off a pier.
      Take hostages and demand retailers pull your competition off their shelves.
      Follow ginidietrich in a small plane as she tricycles through the Loop flying a massive ‘Please cover me in your blog’ Banner. And do some low buzzes every 15 blocks.

      • bobledrew

        Howie Goldfarb bobledrew ginidietrich Speaking of low buzzes… 😉

      • Howie Goldfarb bobledrew I think Pepe would prefer to cycle along beside me.

        • bobledrew

          ginidietrich Howie Goldfarb Lord knows I’ve tried. Guess I’m gonna have to bring a bike to the city of big shoulders.

    • bobledrew I would kill myself if I got 200 pitches every day. OK…that might be a bit dramatic, but the way it’s done today is so bad, I would be on my soapbox every, single day.

  • I love when something gets you all feisty! 
    Being a veteran of this for a client I would add to this great post to use Twitter (along with commenting etc) . First find 1] the places you would love coverage 2] find who does the writing. You can find those names often on the site where you want to be. (Use the Google).
    Then make a list for these twitter accounts and do two things. 1] scratch their back. Share their content with your follower where it fits your persona. 2] Use twitter to slowly get to know the writers.
    And they should remember any reasonably sized publication might have plenty of workers. So getting to know the sports writer might not earn you any attention by the restaurant critic.

    This will help you make friends and gain some attention unintrusively. Of course when desperate parking outside their home at random times hoping to catch them works too.

    • Howie Goldfarb WOW! A serious AND great comment. Thank you! You’re absolutely right…this is 100 percent the right tactic to use for Twitter. Love.

      • ginidietrich Howie Goldfarb Fiesty Gini is the best Gini. 
        If I had to sit down and give someone advice about getting coverage (which, for the 8 millionth time, as you say is publicity not PR) I would tell them do what Howie is talking about….for every ecosystem you want to be a part of. If you are not doing this, you won’t get coverage (at least not any that matters). 
        And I’m not trying to be glib here, but who among the readers of this blog couldn’t help someone get 10-15 good, valuable pieces of coverage up in 6 months to a year? I mean, it ain’t rocket science, it’s relationship building….and the access to relationships is all there with social media (unless you have that client who wants a guarantee of their story on the front page of the NYTimes, because if that’s their goal they are so far from the real world you can’t help them).

        • ginidietrich Howie Goldfarb Also does anyone else like the fact that phone calls are pretty good again if you’ve actually got something useful to say? So happy about that.

  • A big part of the magic must happen even before step #1, right?  You have to be smart in determining where you want to appear.  And that decision should (in a beautiful, perfect world) ideally be based on data linking those places to your targets, not just “that blog is awesome” or “everyone reads that paper.” Especially if you are taking media relations on yourself, I would say you should direct your efforts as strategically as possible. This message is brought to you by the ANTI-SPRAY-‘N-PRAY Coalition.

    • DwayneAlicie Yes, of course you are right. I was pissed off this morning when I wrote this…feeling both like I was preaching to the choir and bringing in a new audience. So I missed that very important step.

      • ginidietrich DwayneAlicie You throw your cell phone when you get POed, don’t you. Like Naomi Campbell. I knew it!
        I left out two important things in my comment. 1. When people ask me about how to “get the word out,” those are the steps I tell them, and I do believe I learned them here!  But I don’t think anyone has ever followed my advice. Insert frowny emoticon. Obviously, they never have time.  2. You’re my hero (along with Howie Goldfarb) and please don’t throw your cell phone at my head.

        • DwayneAlicie Um, no! I love my pretty phone. Why would I want to hurt it??

        • ginidietrich DwayneAlicie Riiiight… so Exhibit A bears *no* resemblance to you when you receive bad pitches?   None whatsoever? Exhibit A:

        • DwayneAlicie OMG! belllindsay, did you record this of me??

        • ginidietrich belllindsay “Oh Miss Gini … please, no …”  Tee hee…

        • DwayneAlicie ginidietrich I warned you. No more hitting!

        • belllindsay DwayneAlicie ginidietrich I laughed so long and hard when I finally got around to reading this just now.

  • I really enjoyed this post and gained a lot of knowledge. The only thing I can add is that (to echo a theme I’ve shared before) our non profit has “done its own” and other times “had PR people.” With a government-funded (mostly) program that is also a not-for-profit corporation, there are a lot of audiences to attend to. The biggest “plus” when we had an external firm was their ability to focus on a strategy, and their connections to all of the media outlets. The biggest “challenge” was the fact that they didn’t (in some cases — we have had a few which is probably a topic for a different post) take the time to really learn about our organization in a deep enough way to speak to it knowledgeably or handle some nuances well. Lessons learned.

    • biggreenpen In their defense, it’s really hard for an external firm to know your business as well as you do. Even when we spend lots of time with our clients, we aren’t there every, single day. We miss out on the nuances for that sheer fact alone.

      • ginidietrich biggreenpen Absolutely I can understand that!

  • I love how ginidietrich always knows what I need to read on a given day….I was literally just writing an email about whether or not we were ready to hire a PR agency and what I would expect them to do. ;-p

    • katskrieger I am a mind reader!

      • Indeed you are. 🙂

      • CommProSuzi

        ginidietrich We talked about using your power (mindreading) for good and not evil.

  • So many great comments already, so I’ll just highlight my favorite ideas: 
    1) Know your story. It’s great that you have a new whitepaper and you can certainly publish an online press release announcing that fact, but most journalists aren’t going to care about that little tid-bit. If you don’t have a Story (with a capital “S”) then figure it out ASAP!
    2) Journalists and bloggers are some of the busiest people on the planet. Pitches should be short and blunt. Give them what they need — no teasing, nothing cute.
    3) Media outreach is a small part of PR. Social media, branding, relationships, customer service, visibility, etc… are all part of your PR campaign. It pretty much encompasses every aspect of your business. You are busy. Hire it out. It’s worth it. 
    4) Truly effective PR takes time. Setting goals to be featured in “X” number of national publications next month is unrealistic. Think outside the box. What else is a “success?” 

    I love ginidietrich that you actually had a client notice the correlation between stopping PR and their pipeline drying up. Classic!

    • TaraGeissinger It’s always better that they realize that when they still have you on retainer. It’s the ones you no longer work with who realize it and are too ashamed to come back.

    • CommProSuzi

      What TaraGeissinger said!  
      I’ve tried tweeting pitches to journalists I follow to see if they are remotely interested. I’ve been pleasantly surprised!

  • Sjeanne06

    Ohhh, don’t fret ginidietrich!! I’m “fair”-ly certain that there will be an opportunity for you to use one in the near future… (see what I did there)??! Ok, it’s late… I’m logging off…

  • Randy Milanovic

    I’ve given up on the Herald and the Sun was never that deep.

  • CommProSuzi

    Have I mentioned lately how much I love your blog, Gini & Friends?

  • Having “done your own” PR, I say YES to all of the above. (And as a freelancer, love 1-3 especially.) Following these guidelines helps you focus your efforts. So much time can be spent “spreading the word” as thin as melted butter (then you only get soggy toast) rather than targeting and sharing your message where it will have the greatest impact. Btw, does comment #113 get any sort of prize?

    • Word Ninja I think it should get a prize. Perhaps a big congratulations??

      • ginidietrich I’ll take it. But was kinda hoping for a goldfish.

  • I loved this ginidietrich. So much so, I’m going to text you and tell you so. But seriously, I’m going to bookmark this, and send the link to every bad pitch I get. I’m not kidding…I’ll BCC you on the first.

  • Thanks for the nice mention Gini! I’ve rarely seen companies succeed at doing their own PR. The time investment alone in building relationships to garner the kind of results they want is usually the biggest shock to non-PR executives. PR is a discipline that has to be practiced – well – every day (as everyone reading this knows). Blogs like this are great for sharing with clients. Thank you for always presenting information in a way that’s easily digestible by anyone — PR pro or not!

  • I saw that crappy article, started reading, then gave up as my computer is allergic to b.s. I know you know how I feel on PR being so much more than publicity, media relations. I’m pretty sure you know where I sit on the DIY fence. In fact, I’ve used that quote, graphic more than a few times. It’s not that it’s impossible; it’s the real work that’s involved, the time it takes, the investment to go DIY – for anything. Who’s gonna run your business while you do all that? And who’s to say you’ll do it well, do it right? On budget?
    The inherent danger well beyond the time/money argument – expertise. If you DIY your own taxes – do you just sit down with an adding machine or budget software, pray the IRS says ‘well, you didn’t know better but at least you tried.’? Of course not. How much time are you willing to devote to study, to learning the tricks of the PR trade? Knowing how to recognize a story, an angle, a trend – and how you fit that? Like anything, Communications is an essential Business function that IMO, takes more than a wing and a prayer.
    So my plea for any non-PR choir folks reading this: If you’re gonna DIY please, please, please 1) start by reading smarter advice like those here on Spin Sucks and for the sake of puppies and rainbows, 2) consider at least SOME budget going to true guidance, advice. I can tell you from experience as a Solo PR, you may DIY but at least that way, you won’t be going it totally alone. FWIW.

  • Pingback: How to do media relations on your own « Celebrity Blok()

  • Pingback: Mobile Marketing: Use the Four Media Types in Promotion Spin Sucks()