Media RelationsBy Gini Dietrich

I miss the old days of Twitter.

We used to have really interesting conversations, debates, and even arguments. Sarah Robinson created a Twitter party where people would send links to songs and we would all work while listening to what was recommended by our friends.

Of course, back then we all had a little extra time because the economy forced it. But it’s rare to get in-depth about our passions on the social network today.

That’s why, when Carrie Morgan got me all wrapped up in talking about PR professionals and what we hate about the work some of them do, I may or may not have spent too much time in the conversation.

I said:

I am a PR pro so I feel like I can talk about this. It’s like I can call my brother ugly, but you cannot.

(My brother, by-the-way, is not ugly.)

Are PR Pros Ugly?

I’m certainly not calling PR pros ugly. There are, however, certain things about the way some conduct media relations that makes the entire industry look bad.

Being a blogger and a PR pro gives me a different perspective. It’s interesting to be pitched by people who seemingly know what they’re doing (with titles of managing something or vice president), but to watch them do it so wrong.

It’s hard work. You’re building relationships with human beings. You’re doing it so they do something in return for you. Sending a news release via email and crossing your fingers and toes, hoping someone will run it, is not strategic or effective.

In some cases, I know I’m preaching to the choir because the Spin Sucks readers totally get this. It’s also something I blog about often enough that the message should reach those who are not Spin Sucks readers.

If you already effectively manage your media relations program as outlined below, please send this to a colleague or peer who does not.

One blog post at at time, we will change the way PR practitioners do media relations.

Seven Step Process for Media Relations

For those of you who are still using the spray and pray method to media relations, this is for you.

  1. The online media directories, such as Cision and Vocus, are a starting point. They help you create lists easily and target effectively, but the services do not do the research for you.
  2. Do your  research. I get an email at least five times every day that has nothing to do with anything we cover here. There is no way I’m going to cover a franchise opening or your CEO talking about the latest widget. One of my favorites of the year? Someone wrote an article on Super Bowl advertising, sent it to hundreds of people in the “to” line (didn’t even BCC everyone) and invited all of us to run it as is. I guess that PR pro has never heard of Google Panda or duplicate content.
  3. Go online. It used to be we would get out the big, green Bacons books, copy a list of people, and then either subscribe to the magazines and newspapers or go to the library and check them out to do research. I remember how exciting it was when everything went online. No more hours of research. But no one uses the Internet. Every, single blog has an “about” page, which typically includes what they write about and how to pitch them. READ THAT.
  4. Stop the spam. It is against the law to send unsolicited email. While you can send an email to a media list without having the recipients opt-in, your email should be sent from a server that allows people to unsubscribe with the click of a button. It helps you if they unsubscribe. Now you know your news isn’t relevant to them.
  5. Stop emailing multiple times. Because most bloggers have day jobs and most journalists are covering several beats, the delete button is their friend. If you don’t get a response the first time, it’s perfectly acceptable to send one more email. But an email every day or the “just emailing you again to get to the top of your inbox”? You’re going to get the wrath of someone who is having a bad day.
  6. If I tell you no, don’t contact someone else. Our favorite thing in the whole entire world is when Lindsay Bell or Jess Ostroff tell someone no and they come to me. Not only is that throwing them under the bus, it provides me an opportunity to add you to our black list for going above the people who make the decisions. No means no for the entire publication or blog.
  7. For the love of all things great, don’t call someone out on Twitter for not responding to your email. That’s the fastest way to get on someone’s big poop list.
As Mitch Joel says, “If the pitch is relevant to me, it works 100 percent of the time.”

Wouldn’t you rather follow the steps above, create a really relevant pitch, send it to only 20 people and have all of them run something instead of sending the same, exact pitch to 2,000 people and have no one run it?

After our Twitter chat, I wrote a version of this for Carrie’s blog, Rock the Status Quo. I’ve updated it for you. 

Photo credit: That’s the typewriter that sits on my desk!

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.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich