The other day, a couple of my colleagues and I discussed email marketing for one of our clients. Our email marketing whiz mentioned that it works well for us because I spend time on LinkedIn reading, commenting, and sharing. He said that will be the biggest differentiating factor for next year and that we need to begin to advise our clients to do the same.

When I asked him to explain further, he said, “We all get junk in our inboxes. You complain constantly about how many unsolicited emails you receive daily—from marketers and communicators alike. What makes an email stand out to you?”

I said that it for sure has to come from a name I recognize. If it doesn’t, I almost always delete it. 

He said, “Right! And how do you become a recognized name in someone’s inbox?”

Ohhhhhh. Right. By commenting on and sharing their content. Bingo!

There is a lot of emphasis on creating great content—and for good reason. It’s one-fourth of the PESO Model™, and it has massive benefits, including brand awareness, building thought leadership, maintaining credibility, driving qualified leads, and increasing search engine optimization.

But what about great comments? This is a lost art that is making a comeback. 

How to Stand Out

I published an article in our LinkedIn newsletter a few months ago and noticed a new face. He commented thoughtfully and shared the article on his own page. He showed up weekly, providing some insightful commentary and sharing.

A couple of months later, he DM’d me and asked if I would be a guest on his podcast. The answer was an immediate yes because he had already been generous in sharing my content—a no-brainer.

Would I have immediately said yes had he not done that? Nope. Would I have eventually been on his podcast? Probably. But because he made it so easy for me to say yes, I did so immediately. I didn’t have to get my team involved. We didn’t have to do a bunch of research and debate whether or not it was good for the Spin Sucks brand. I just said yes.

Imagine if this is the case with every journalist, blogger, and influencer on your “must-have” list for 2024. 

As you think about standing out in an extremely crowded earned media landscape, consider adding great comments to your execution plan. It helps with visibility and is a great way to break the ice. People will feel like they know you before you pitch them, which is guaranteed to at least get you a response, if not a result. 

Great Comments Are the Secret

But let me be clear about something: it can’t be generic commenting. It has to be great commenting. If you comment, “I agree!” or “great article!” or something else that is generic, it won’t work. You also can’t copy and paste comments from other posts. Not only is this ineffective, it doesn’t help you stand out. At all. 

It will take you some brain power, elbow grease, and time, but it will be one of the most effective ways to get earned media results. 

Imagine, if you will, there is a journalist on your list you have emailed a handful of times only to be met with complete silence. You know your story is perfect for them, but you can’t get a response out of them to save your life. And you’ve tried everything possible to get them to respond to a single email. Yet…nothing.

They’re active on LinkedIn and post an article at least weekly. Here’s your chance! Do you comment, “Really great article, Name”? Or do you take a few minutes to add some commentary? 

I would hope you’ve opted for the latter.

A Journalist Example

Let’s look at an example: a friend of mine is the editor at a well-known food magazine. At the start of December, she posted on LinkedIn, “Our Nov/Dec Dough issue is here!” And then proceeded to outline everything you can expect from the issue.

The comments, as of this writing, say, “Love the theme of this issue,” “Wow, this issue is stacked with great stories and recipes,” and “Love this.”

While my friend graciously responded to each, none stand out as “great” comments, do they?

How would you approach this differently if you were doing earned media for a food company and wanted to get this editor’s attention? 

It might look something like this, “I loved the piece from Sammy Gill about starting a micro-bakery during the pandemic. The story he told about being transported back to his grandparent’s kitchen while he taught himself how to make the treats of his youth was inspiring. Maybe I should make something of Horace, my sourdough starter. Really loved this issue!”

The Dos and Don’ts

What did I do there, outside of saying, “Loved this issue,” like everyone else? It’s clear I read the issue, found something I could relate to, and provided a sneak peek into my personal life. I really do have a sourdough starter named Horace. He’s almost ten years old, though. I had him long before the pandemic—and many of my friends have Horace, Jr., in their kitchens. Let me know if you want some!

As you consider adding comments to your PR plan next year, think about leaving thoughtful and insightful comments on three to five daily posts. This will work for reporters, influencers, bloggers, potential partners, and even potential customers. 

There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to do this:

  • Do not comment with shameless plugs. 
  • Do not use AI-generated comments. 
  • Do not copy and paste from a comment you left elsewhere. 
  • Do not pander.
  • Do not write more than a few sentences. 
  • Do not say, “Great post!” and be on your merry way.
  • Do read the content so you can provide something thoughtful.
  • Do be authentic.
  • Do be consistent.
  • Do listen.
  • Do use the word “you” versus “I” or “me.”

The art of commenting is your ability to create a connection, show your personality, and stand out. It’s not just about expressing your opinion, but about adding to the conversation, building a rapport, and showcasing that you care about the person whose community you’re standing up in front of.

Agree. Disagree. But Be Respectful

Now imagine if you share a story, anecdote, or quick case study that’s relevant to that post. Now you’re not just commenting, but enriching the conversation with examples the author’s community can relate to. By doing this, you’ve gained the attention of the author and anyone who reads that post’s comments.

While I said earlier that you should have a goal to write three to five comments every day, this isn’t a numbers game. That goal is there to help you become consistent and to make it a habit. But the real goal should be about the quality of those comments. Add value, not just your voice; it won’t matter if you post one or ten each day. 

And you don’t have to just agree with the content. You can disagree—respectfully. I once had a young professional debate with me about the order of the PESO Model. His point was that you rarely start with paid media, especially in communications. So why did I start the model with that? He was respectful about it, but he was clearly fired up about how wrong I was.

It made me laugh. He was right, of course. But the intention of the PESO Model is not to start with paid. It only starts with it in the acronym because it’s easier to remember that OESP or OSEP. But it did provide a talking point for me when I describe the PESO Model to new audiences. I always tell them why the acronym is PESO versus ordered by importance. 

Healthy debate can be incredibly enriching, but only if it’s professional and constructive. 

Great Comments Are Worth Gold

As you think about how you can add this into your plan for next year—building awareness for the organization, thought leadership for the executives, subject matter expertise for colleagues—remember that reputation is your currency. Every comment you make is an opportunity to enhance your reputation.  

Be thoughtful. Be strategic. Be authentic. And, in the words of my mother, remember who you are and what you stand for. 

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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