Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 23, 200811:17 AM

How To Get Media Attention In One Easy Step (And It's Free)

Knowing who to reach out to in the media is becoming an increasingly more complex task.

Journalists working at mass media publications are inundated with press releases, emails and phone calls (on top of unreasonable editorial deadlines) from both professional public relations specialists as well as any random person who thinks they have a story worthy of their attention. It's a complex world that has only been intensified over the past five years as Blogs become an additional and all-important place to get your message heard.

The challenge is that Bloggers are not Journalists (granted, some Journalists are also Bloggers). Bloggers don't like being "pitched" and some journalists are getting to the point where any email that has the slightest whiff of being part of a mass email distribution is being publicly shamed or blacklisted from their inbox.

Are you confused and perplexed?

How do you build trust with both Bloggers and Journalists in a low-trust economy?

The trick is to build a proper and targeted media list that includes both Journalists and Bloggers, but where do you start?

Here's the best way (in my humble opinion):

Create a free Google Alert for your direct competition and one for the biggest player in your industry.

While creating a Google Alert is nothing new, using that information is something that Marketers and Communications professional rarely talk about. By following your direct competition and the biggest player in your industry, you can easily document the types of publications and Blogs that are interested in your space. You can easily pull contact information from these alerts. It's pretty simple to populate a simple Excel file with the publication/Blog name, journalist/Blogger, title of related entry (and the link), date of entry and contact information.

Now, when you have news of relevance, you've built up some kind of highly-targeted media hit list. You also know the style in which they write, so when you send them information you can even reference the post/article that led you to them.

All the common rules of society still apply when contacting Journalists and Bloggers:

- Be nice.
- Be respectful of their time.
- Recognize that these are busy people too.
- Be self-aware that most of them do not like to be pitched.
- Don't annoy them or hound them if you don't hear back from them.
- Say please and thank you.
- Make it easy, simple and fun to connect to you and whatever it is you're pitching them.
- Give them time and space to breathe (your rush is not their rush).

The real trick is in nurturing your media list. Pruning it, adding to it, updating it and expanding it. Does any of the above replace the power of working with a professional public relations firm? No. They bring years of experience, insight and communications prowess to the process. Is using Google Alerts a great way to get started if you are bootstrapping or would like to take a quick start at building your own media list? Yes.

The last point is to make it personal. Don't mass email them. Let them know why you chose to send them the information based on what you've read.

Bonus points: comment on their Blogs and be a part of their community before you need them to talk about you.

It's going to be a lot easier to get coverage if they recognize your name as someone who has been contributing to the comments and the community by adding value for some time.

What other simple, fast and free tools do you use to get media attention? 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Michelle Blanc
    Mitch Joel

    Write about your field of expertise and try to aplly that to current news event. For instance, I write about the good and bad uses of the web. When I wrote a post about how political parties were using the web, I received a score of press coverage.

    Reply
  • I've found that a Twitter pitch can be effective if the person you want to pitch is also following you (so you can direct message them.) It certainly keeps you concise and to the point.

    Some caution should be exercised here because there seems to be an increased amount of Twitter spam. I generally consider people who chose to follow me first as fair game whereas if I initiated the follow and have never interacted with them I will most likely not pitch them via Twitter.

    Reply
  • I agree with all your tips, Mitch. Journalists and bloggers will thank you!

    As someone who worked in both the newspaper and radio industries, I have two essential tips that immediately come to mind:

    1. Watch your spelling and grammar. This sounds basic, I know. But, I have have witnessed queries and releases hit the round file if they were riddled with errors. Errors equal eroded credibility.

    2. Just because you have a big announcement about your company, it doesn't mean it's news to anyone but you (as much as you'd like to think otherwise). However, if you have a unique angle that will connect with the journalist's audience, or if you can tie your announcement to a current event in some way, then you may have actual news your media contact can't resist.

    Reply
  • Oh, and just for fun, I did embed one typo in my previous post.

    Okay, it wasn't exactly deliberate; but talk about eroding my own credibility! Sheesh.

    Reply
  • Posted by frank
    Mitch Joel

    I think you nailed it in teh bonus point:

    "Participate in their community by commenting on their blog"

    People want to have great conversation on their blog. it's a win win!

    I'd also add that you should spend a considerable amount of time 'giving' to the people you are trying to build relationships with before you ever 'take' or ask for something from them.

    --
    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    Reply
  • Posted by LJ Jones
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for the post. I like your use of the word nurture. It implies time, effort, and work. I think too many people are hoping to gain exposure with little or no effort on their part. It also seems that people forget that Social Media, is in fact social and that building a relationship takes work.

    Reply
  • Posted by Corby Fine
    Mitch Joel

    We recently launched a site (www.wirelesssoapbox.com) on behalf of Globalive, and had a tonne of media and grassroots writers visit the site. With the goal of the site being user generated messages directed to the CEO of Globalive, it was inevitable to have some of them want to "interview" him for their own blogs and sites. One such individual didn't ask, rather he demanded an interview stating that if the CEO was truly as transparent as he intended the web site to be, he should have no issue in granting the interview. The issue wasn't transparency, rather the busy schedule of a CEO. Grassroots writers and bloggers need to understand they are in line with the CBC, CityTV and other major outlets. Not that they are less important, but neither do they deserve "special" attention.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joe Gagliano
    Mitch Joel

    I should preface my comments by saying that I am semi-retired now. When I started in the business it was considered a mortal sin to send more than one copy of a press release to a given publication, and if you gave an exclusive to someone you’d better be prepared to be shunned by the other media in that category. Over time many things have changed, but the essence of PR remains pretty much the same: be civil in your dealings, don’t embarrass your contacts by providing misleading information, interpret your client’s message clearly. Everything else is "nuts and bolts." You can be sure that ten years from now other channels of communications will come into play, but how we interact personally will not change much.

    Reply
  • Goggle Alerts is a great start but then PR professionals could add a few Google searches on the topic they pitch to see if that blog is well referenced. If it is, there are good chances the topic is important to the blogger.

    As a blogger, I can see value in relevant pitches since they can help me generate content. Personally, small brands do the best jobs at pitching me, probably because it is done one on one. I totally agree with your last advice, Mitch: Give them time and space to breathe.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kevin Behringer
    Mitch Joel

    Sure, Mitch...ruling the marketing world wasn't enough. Now you have to take over PR too!

    Great tips. The concept of GA for your competition to find where the topics of your industry are being written about was such a simple concept that I'm hesitant to admit I hadn't thought of it!

    Now, to go out and do it!

    Keep up the great work,

    Kevin

    Reply
  • Posted by Julia
    Mitch Joel

    This is another one of those things that should be obvious but you would be amazed how often this mistake is made when press releases get sent out...

    Remember to include WHERE and WHEN. So many great sounding events missed getting press when I worked in the media because they forgot to include those simple details. A long description of what you are doing is NO USE if you don't say where and when it is happening. Don't assume press will email you back to find out. Media people are very busy.. it's true... If they have to email you back for more information chances are they will just give your release a pass and will go onto the next one.

    Reply
  • Posted by Eden Spodek
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I love this post and the discussion that follows. Thank you!

    I'd add "be sincere" to the list. I get so many emails/email pitches from people who think they have to say things like my blog is their favourite or they try and act like we're best friends even though we've never met. It's so transparent.

    I'm not a big fan of the cutesy emails either. I wish I knew where that practice began. It seems pretty silly to me.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeff Pape
    Mitch Joel

    I have not received a lot of press but we have been written up in Chicago Sun Times and mentioned in a Wall St Journal Article and were part of the focus of a chapter in a book. All of that came primarily from a 5 minute speech I gave at a seminar. So my free tip would be don't turn down any speaking opportunities and maybe even seek them out a little bit.

    Reply
  • Posted by Zac Martin
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. Seems like common sense to me, but apparently not too others. Some of the ways I've been approached have been horrendous!

    Julian Cole has an interesting post on the Blogging Rules of Engagement, well worth reading.

    Reply
  • Posted by Terrence Paquet
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch.
    Interesting point you've made.

    As an authour who is trying to generate interest in my book, the best way I know to get media attention is to whip them into a frenzy.

    That's why today I have come up with an ingenious marketing stunt in which I have wrapped myself in aluminum foil and barricaded myself in the house. I am not sure what the significance of the foil is, but it is flattering to my figure and will protect me in the event of an alien attack.

    Far from being a selfish manipulation of the press, I want this act of defiance to draw worldwide attention to the trials and tribulations of all people who are writing a book with the words "My Penis and other short pieces" in the title.

    I am hoping that the public will rally to their aid and donate much-needed cash to enable them the opportunity to enjoy the simple things in life like caviar, lobster and large homes in the hills of Tuscany.

    For the record, it has been three hours since I pushed the fridge up against the front door and surprisingly not one police cruiser or reporter has come yet. I guess I probably have to call them, although that might seem a little desperate and go against the public persona I have worked so hard to construct.

    I did call CNN but got an answering machine so I left a message for Wolf Blitzer.

    I'm still waiting for a reply.

    Just thought you'd want to know.

    Terrence Paquet
    Author of My Penis & Other Short Pieces
    http://snurl.com/2gtjo

    Reply
  • Posted by Robin Browne
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,
    You asked what tools we use to get media attention but I would clarify that if you're not doing anything interesting then no tool can help. And one thing that's interesting to journalists is when you do something that turns the traditional on its head. An example that got some pretty good media coverage, was a fair trade chocolate company that did a reverse Trick-or-Treat at Halloween where they gave parents lots of free little chocolates and the parents when around with their kids on Halloween, knocking on doors, giving out the chocolate and talking about Fair Trade.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dean
    Mitch Joel

    "Be self-aware that most of them do not like to pitched. "

    You mean: "...most of them do not like to *be pitched* (at or to)"

    In my list of musts, I'd include: good grammar!

    Reply
  • Thanks for the correction Dan.

    Those who follow Six Pixels know how much time I do put into spell-checking and grammar. That being said, I produce a lot of content and little things do fall into the cracks.

    I appreciate it.

    Reply
  • Posted by JMichael
    Mitch Joel

    This has been very informative, Mitch. But I have one question for you and this community: How do I determine what 'industry' I am in?

    I know that sounds like a very foolish question, but please hear me out. My blog (http://www.BizLaunchBlog.com) follows my day-by-day experiences of finding, launching and developing an online business as a gift for my wife. I went from four page views the night I set up my domain (and I think all four were me!) to over 1500 page views 72 hours later... I say that to say there is obviously interest in my site.

    But I am having trouble determining what 'industry' my site is in. I think it would be an interesting site to profile maybe at a 'work at home moms' site or something like that... perhaps?

    Any suggestions would be most appreciated... I am not trying to sell anyone anything at my site, just sharing my experiences.

    Peace,
    JMichael
    BizLaunchBlog.com

    Reply
  • Posted by JMichael
    Mitch Joel

    Incidentally, because I think some might wonder, I didn't pay a single cent for any of my traffic. When I was sharing these stats with someone else they assumed I purchased my traffic or advertised on the search engines... nope. I don't even know if I am registered with the search engines yet! :)

    Peace,
    JMichael
    http://www.BizLaunchBlog.com

    Reply
  • Posted by MiMi
    Mitch Joel

    You will be on the news

    Reply
  • Posted by Miles
    Mitch Joel

    I enjoy browsing your internet site. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Posted by Miles
    Mitch Joel

    I enjoy browsing your internet site. Thank you!

    Reply
Add a Comment

Please complete all the fields below, including the spam filter (to prove you're not a robot).

  1. Fill in your email address to have your Gravatar photo included with your comment.
  2. Please type the word pixels here:
TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.twistimage.com/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/907