A couple of weeks ago I was startled by blog posts on The Rainmaker Blog and the Lawyer Marketing Blog. In both cases, misreadings of surveys written up in an eMarketer article led to erroneous assertions that blogging is a great way to connect with journalists.
In fact, for small businesses and professional firms the opposite is true. Just as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the fastest, most effective media relations tactics involve direct contact. Relying on Google search and word of mouth to get your ideas and personal brand in front of journalists through your blog takes time and luck, and is not as effective overall as a sustained, targeted program of calls and e-mails.
Yes, we’ve all heard or read the anecdotes about a sole practitioner who was written up in the Wall Street Journal because a reporter read one of his/her blog posts, and floods of business followed. While that does happen, it’s extremely rare. In other words, saying that blogging is a great way of connecting with journalists is like saying that playing scratch-off lottery tickets is a great investment strategy for your retirement — You might get a couple small wins along the way, but they don’t cover your overall investment, and the odds against big payouts are very large.
A Wall Street Journal article this week offers real-world tips from successful young entrepreneurs like Aaron Patzer (@apatzer on Twitter), founder of Mint.com, on how to score media coverage for a small business.
The most effective strategies for earning and sustaining engagement with journalists are to be:
- Useful – Whenever you contact a journalist, make sure that you’re offering ideas or resources of immediate value to them, not to you. Saying “I’d like to be a resource, and invite you to read my blog” will not cut it. Make their job easier; don’t give them an assignment.
- Persistent — Regular contact will keep you and your ideas top of mind and improve your odds of connecting for a future story.
- Opportunistic – “The best way to get quick press attention is to tie your service into current events. Look at the headlines. What is relevant today?” says Shama Kabani (@shama), founder of The Marketing Zen Group.
- Patient – Media relations is a game of probabilities and percentages. The more you play, the better your chances.
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