PR Gurus' Top Tips For Pitching And Storytelling In The Digital World

Web 2.0 technologies have transformed B2B public relations making it far easier to connect not only with the media, but also with bloggers and customers. Yet, many companies are not getting the full range of benefits from public relations. Relying too much on age-old strategies like press releases and media relations, they have failed to expand their PR toolbox to include revitalized press releases, content marketing, social media, and customer dialogue. At the end of the day, they have missed the opportunity to fully tell their story so that others will listen.To help advance the thinking, conversation, and ultimately execution in B2B public relations, we have asked some of the smartest people we know to provide a PR tip. Please feel free to add your own in the comments below. We want this to be a growing resource for the B2B PR community. And be sure to take an opportunity to engage with our thought leaders. We look forward to hearing your ideas. Finally, please connect with me @wendymarx and on Google+.                                                                                                                                      Ardath Albee - @ardath421 and add her on Google+B2B Marketer, Strategist, Writer, Storyteller and Author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale Tailor
your pitch to your media choice. That means you need to make sure the media write about your topic
and that their audience is your audience. Give them a reason to pay
attention by personalizing your request. Getting a few
well-placed, great stories is much better than a lot of coverage that
doesn't add any value for the readers. And especially in the case of
bloggers, don't expect them to drop everything for your story. Give
them enough time to draft their posts and still be one of the first to
break the story.                                                                                                                                         Tom Anderson - @TomHCAnderson and add him on Google+CEO, Anderson Analytics, Founder and Chairman, Next Gen Market Research Most PR folks know market research makes great PR. A few things to
keep in mind, though. Most serious publications have strict criteria on
what qualifies as research. Rather than trying to launch your own survey
on the cheap, check to see if your client has done any research with a
professional independent firm. Even if some of it will definitely be
proprietary, there may be a few insights you can use for a release. Keep
in mind that the insights you share should have wide interest.
Something about what percentage liked your specific product does not qualify as news unless of course you're someone like Apple. Remember, just getting mentioned is the key; popular publications
aren’t interested in the details of your company or product.                                                                                                                                        Connie Bensen - @cbensen and add her on Google+Senior Manager, Community Strategy and Execution, Dell. Take a look at her blog for insights.For companies that are moving towards becoming social businesses and
are empowering their staff to build social networks, they can amplify
their PR messaging through individual employees' social networks by setting
up a process for sharing suggested tweets internally via
appropriate email distribution lists, Yammer, or Chatter.                                                                                                                                        Deirdre Breakenridge - @dbreakenridge and add her on Google+CEO of Pure Performance Communications, speaker, author of PR 2.0 &
Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, adjunct professor &
co-founder of #PRStudChat
Out of college,
my very first mentor offered me sage advice. He said, "In public
relations it's so important to listen. When you listen you can
understand the challenges to offer better solutions. You should listen
to your clients and to the market and stay close to the media." Throughout my career I've always listened to be more strategic. Today, I
find myself listening to constituents even more, as a result of social
media. If you listen, then you can participate as a meaningful resource.                                                                                                                                        Cheryl K. Burgess @ckburgess and add her on Google+ Managing Partner, Blue Focus Marketing and AT&T Social Media blogger Social
media is transforming every industry, and PR is no exception. To meet
these challenges, PR professionals must learn to communicate using an
array of social media tools. Start by listening to and analyzing your
target audience and key stakeholders. Then engage by curating, writing,
and sharing original, relevant content with your audiences. It’s that
poetic fusing of technology and humanity that builds communities and
amplifies your message. Social media operates real-time and
demands fast decisions. Diving in head first without a considered plan
or philosophy—or brand strategy—could be catastrophic.                                                                                                                                  
Heidi Cohen -@heidicohen and add her on Google+President, Riverside Marketing Strategies; adjunct Professor, Rutgers University; Columnist, ClickZ. Take a look at her blog for her insights. Want
to get my attention as a columnist and blogger? Don’t spam me with your
latest press release or email off a press list in hopes of a cameo role
in one of my pieces. Instead, follow these three steps: Read my columns
to see what I cover, tweet and/or comment on my content, and/or be a
resource by offering to help me in terms of useful research or
conference passes.                                                                                                                              Paul Dunay - @pauldunay and add him on Google+Chief Marketing
Office, Networked Insights; author
of four "Dummies" books
I feel PR needs to move from publications to conversations! You need to really track and engage in conversations where your brand would fit best. Start by commenting at least one time per day on the stories that are
relevant to you—for example, in B2B, cloud computing or social media analytics. This would lead to 250 articles with mentions and maybe some
links back to your site over the course of a year. It's like having hundreds of ads out there for your brand that were all relevant and in context at
a fraction of the cost of traditional PR!                                                                                                                                    
Sally Falkow - @sallyfalkow and add her on Google+Social Media Strategist, Meritus Media: Senior Fellow, Social for New COmmunications Research. President/Co-Developer, PRESSfeed Pew Research has identified search as
the one factor that has most impacted news in the last
decade. Journalists use search to find information and sources for
stories. The public uses search to find information and news. Companies
need to optimize every piece of news content for search—articles,
press releases, whitepapers, slide decks, images, and video. Pew has
predicted that sharing content will be the factor that most affects news
in the next decade, so once your news content is optimized, make it
easy to share.                                                                                                                             Mark Gottlieb - @mgconslts Marketing and PR Consultant, Mark Gottlieb Consulting Don't be afraid to think big. Let me give you an example. A company that previously wanted press releases sent out only
in North America asked me to send their releases to key trade
publications internationally as well. This resulted in a huge order they
never would have had otherwise.                                                                                                                              Perianne Grignon - @perianne and add her on Google+SVP and Chief Marketing Officer for [x+1]The best PR advice I ever received was to stay focused and passionate, and to communicate essential information that is accessible to the reader. When ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition took off andbecame a very hot show with Sears as the major sponsor, as VP of Media Strategy at the time, I started to do interviews with big media, and I learned fast that if I communicated focused passion, the communicationoutcome would be successful. To this day, I can remember saying 'after seeing the show, shoppers have a 29% greater likelihood to shop in the store,' as coached by Sears' head of PR (now at Ketchum) Ted McDougal.                                                                                                                              Bill Hewson - @billhewson and add him on Google+Chief Operating Officer, Acsys
Interactive
Develop a piece of category-specific research (like our digital healthcare survey) that is meaningful to the marketplace, and which can position you with your target audience, generate meaningful feedback, and position your agency as a thought leader.                                                                                                                                                                                         Ben Kartzman - @Spongecell and add him on Google+Co-founder and CEO, SpongecellDon't
always feel the need to "sell" your company to advertisers.  It's
enough to be a resource for smart reporters on industry topics or
breaking news.  Maximize
the reach of your article. Tweet, retweet, post to your blog, share on
Facebook. The more you link, the higher it will result in searches and
the more exposure you will gain.                                                                                                                                 
Guy Kawasaki - @GuyKawasaki and add him on Google+ Author
of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions; Co-founder, Alltop; Founding Partner, Garagae Technology Ventures; Fomer, Chief Evangelist, 
AppleWork
for a big company or PR firm and help all the journalists, bloggers,
and reporters who work for the small, unknown, and seemingly unimportant
publications. By the time you really need their help, they will be the
editors of the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post,
Fortune, Forbes, Wired, and Mashable.                                                                                                                                    
Gail Nelson - @gail_nelson and add her on Google+Glboal CMO, Siegel + Gale Make PR part of the everyday routine for you and your executives. Small opportunities are everywhere and they are additive. A clever
tweet can get you noticed by a new client. Your blog entry can get
re-posted on other sites or lead to a byline in a trade publication. A
thoughtful quote printed in a small publication can lead to a phone call
from Oprah (this actually happened at Siegel+Gale a few months ago!) Don’t accept interview opportunities if you don’t have a good story to tell. You’ll waste the reporter’s time and yours too, because you won’t be quoted in the story.                                                                                                                                 
Tom Pick - @TomPick and add him on Google+Online marketing Executive, KC Associates; Blogger, WebbiquityWhen you build a list of journalists and other key influencers you'll
be pitching on behalf of a client, warm them up through social media
well before you start pitching. Follow them on Twitter and create a
Twitter list for that group. Watch what they're writing about and
retweet stories or posts you find interesting (from the perspective of
your client). Follow them from your Twitter account, so they know who
you are when you start pitching. Creating a social media relationship in
advance of pitching helps you avoid "cold" pitches and increases the
priority of your messages in the writer's email inbox.                                                                                                                                Courtney Ramierez - @CourtneyRamirez and add her on Google+ Certified SEO copywriter and SEO content marketing consultant,.Six Degrees Content
The
best PR advice I've ever received is to consistently be involved. It's
important to get your name and your company out there, but you should
focus your efforts on two to three strategies that you know you can use
regularly. Consistency builds presence and it helps increase your brand
footprint.                                                                                                                                      Ted Rubin - @TedRubin and add him on Google+ Chief Social Marketing Officer, Collective Bias; Social Marketing Strategist, MARS Advertising Most
important for those wishing to be included and engaged by the PR
agencies is to make yourself readily accessible. Make sure to post and
make available all your contact info, what you represent, your
viewpoint., that is your personal brand. And most importantly, you are selling
yourself, so learn how to sell and do not be afraid to do so. Reach out
regularly, engage the PR community, and share your viewpoint and support
the brands you believe in regularly.                                                                                                                                  Bill Sobel - @bsobel226 and add him on Google+Chief Connections Officer, SobelMedia: Digital Media Connections


Be sure you are totally comfortable with the person
representing you and your company. So often I come across PR people who
only care about getting the big interview without understanding the
message first. It's one thing for a PR person to have a relationship
with Brian Williams at NBC News or Michael Gelman from Regis &
Kelly. However, if your target audience is college students you need to look
elsewhere                                                                                                                              [image flickr user jimmoldenhauer]

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10 Comments

  • Jason Stewart


    I agree with many of these
    comments. Great B2B marketers understand that you need to know your audience –
    and know them well. PR people are in the business of selling stories, and much
    like traditional sales, you won't get very far if you don't know who you are
    selling to. Content is key in PR, and it is crucial that it's relevant, timely
    and tailored to your target audience's interest to capture their attention. Be
    relevant by being educated. Determine which media you want to engage and
    closely follow their stories, updates and tweets. You'll soon realize that they
    don't want to just write puff pieces about a company or product, but that they
    want to share insight on trends with their audience. By knowing what the
    influencers want, and then giving it to them, you'll be able to build
    relationships and get your message out there.

     

  • Wendy Marx

    Ronjini, my apologies. Hit send too fast before I could correct the typo in your name.

  • Wendy Marx

    Ronfini, I appreciate your mentioning about using trend spotting tools and hashtags. Both can be an effective way of monitoring an industry. As for some of the tips being old hat, I commend you for being ahead of a lot of people. In our experience, many folks are not as savvy.

  • Wendy Marx

    Regarding the comment by "tallpolarbear" regarding the photos, I take full responsibilty for that; we pulled them off Twitter and in retrospect we should have requested better photos. Thank you for bringing that to our attention.

  • Ronjini Mukhopadhyay

    With all due respect, I find that many of these aren't really tips about pitching as they are advice for overall PR strategy. I think if you don't know most of these pieces of advice, you're already missing the boat. While developing and nurturing relationships has always been a key in PR, I am more interested to see more direct tips, like the ones shared by @heidicohen, @billhewson, @TedRubin and @Bsobel226.

    One tip that I saw that was left out here, was trend spotting, especially on Twitter and now Google+. With the growth of free social media tracking tools (like Social Mention) and even the use of hashtags, it is has become easier determine what trends are being written about and seeing where/if your client has a play in current conversations.

  • tallpolarbear

    Just wanted to point at that majority of the pictures on these profile excerpts are really grainy.  I read the profiles with clear or interesting pictures - Guy Kawasaki's stands out.  If you're pitching yourself as a marketer, I think all aspects of your pitch should reflect that - everything should be a successful marketing pitch, including how you present yourself. 

    I think even a logo would work better than a mediocre photo.

  • Tom Pick

    Wendy, fantastic list of tips and impressive group of contributors! Great takeaways here for PR pros. Thanks for compiling this. And honored to be included.

  • Wendy Marx

    Heidi, thank you so much for your insights. It is rather ironic that PR professionals (and I have probably been guilty of this on occasion) think more in terms of quantity than quality when it comes to outreach when technology no longer makes a cookie-cutter approach necessary, if it ever did.

  • Heidi Cohen

    Wendy -- Thank you for collecting these insights. As a marketer, journalist and blogger, I never cease to be amazed at how often PR professionals waste their first outreach with a one-size-fits-all email. Stand out and help me (and your client) by giving me useful information and ideas for my readers. A good PR resource is worth their weight in gold. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen