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Guest Post: Effectively Manage a Media Relations Program

PR Media Relations Tips - Gini DietrichGuest post by Gini Dietrich.

On Twitter last week, a few of us were talking about PR professionals and what we hate about the work some of them do.

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.)

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 someone will run it is not strategic or effective.

Following are seven tips to effectively manage your media relations program…and get results.

  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 on Spin Sucks, which is a blog for PR and marketing pros. 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 Bacon’s 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? 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. I have a really good friend who runs a newspaper group in the south. One of the things that really gets him is when he tells a PR pro no and that person turns around and sends the same email to 15 of his reporters. No means no for the entire newspaper.
  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 sh*t 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?

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger at PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing In the Round, and co-host of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about  communications and social media. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is due out in November 2013. Connect with her on Google+TwitterFacebookPinterestInstagram  or LinkedIn.



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