Arment Dietrich

Seven Steps to Better Media Relations

By: Arment Dietrich | February 8, 2012 | 
59

Today’s guest post is written by Lisa Gerber.

It’s been awhile, but recently, I’ve been reacquainted with a long lost love.

Yes, media relations.

That long lost love? Media relations.

As the chief content officer for Spin Sucks and Spin Sucks Pro, I have been mostly on the receiving end of pitches, not on the pitching side.

It’s been very entertaining to say the least.

This isn’t another post about bad pitches.

Trust me, I’m shocked at the number of atrocious pitches I get.

My name is not Spin Sucks, it’s not Spin, and pitching me on the broad topics of social media and marketing doesn’t fly. That just doesn’t tell me a thing.

Because the mission of Spin Sucks is to change the perception of PR, there is a huge opportunity for growth by addressing better practices in media relations.

Eliminate Media Relations Douchebaggery In Seven Easy Steps

  1. Manage client expectations. We blame PR agencies for bad pitching and rightly so. But often, it’s because they lack the spine to educate the client. The client expectation is the media list will be huge and the agency will blast out a news release which will get picked up by every gracious journalist in the country. They will get their me-too start-up mentioned in the Chicago Tribune and every daily paper in every major metropolitan city because they believe their news is groundbreaking. The reality is, media relations is a one-on-one practice that involves a lot of time, painstaking research, and one-on-one communication.
  2. Pass the message through the “Who Cares?” filter. No one is going to take pity on you and cover your story because you’re nice or just because you have a relationship. If there isn’t an interesting angle to the story, you’ll end up a victim of the delete button. And please, if you are going to attempt to tie into a news or trend piece, do it in a way that makes sense. I recently saw a pitch about SOPA and how social media makes it easier to monitor the weather. Huh? Which leads me to…know who you are pitching. These people aren’t idiots. Stop acting like one yourself.
  3. Build an Excel spreadsheet and keep notes on your research. Using a media database is helpful, but it’s merely a start. This is not a task for the intern. It takes a lot of hours and research, using tools such as Technorati, Google blogs, and simple Google searches. Vet each person on the list for relevancy to your message and know their writing.
  4. Find a way to introduce yourself. It’s time to go to the cocktail party. Find a common connection, a thoughtful comment on one of their recent articles, or something in their bio. Make a human connection.
  5. Follow them on Twitter. Create a list for this particular client or product and add them. Keep an eye on it every day throughout the day and find a reason to retweet them, answer a question, or help them with an article. Stop short of being a stalker.
  6. Subscribe to their RSS feed. Create a file in your Reader and follow their writing projects. Comment on their articles and share them, within reason.
  7. Send a note, not a pitch. Pitches are like snowflakes. No two should be the same. Each recipient deserves their own note, addressed to them personally, not “Dear Blogger.” Include that introduction and customized paragraph and find out if they are interested in hearing more about your client.

It’s media relations. Enjoy it. First of all, you get to meet new people and get to know them. Then, there is that little rush when you make a connection between a blogger/writer/journalist and a story idea, solving two different problems – one for your client and one for your writer.

Thank you to Stupid Expressions for the bad pitch image. 

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