More than a year ago I started pushing the idea that link building is relationship building. It's since become a cornerstone of my small business marketing advice. After all, small business has almost always been about networking and word of mouth marketing. It only makes sense to carry those concepts over to the web. Unfortunately, many small businesses limit their relationship building to business associates and social networking communities. Duct Tape Marketing's John Jantsch explained over the weekend why relationship building should also extend to the media.
While social media marketing and viral marketing often focus on building buzz in consumer generated content, it's important not to discount the importance of a traditional media push. This is why PR execs work very hard to befriend the journalists that cover their client niches. If you're a savvy small business marketer, you'll be doing this too.
In a post titled "The Proper Way to Stalk a Journalist" John writes:
You know you need to get your story told in the media, but you can’t seem to get anyone interested. The problem is you need to look at journalists as a target market - you need to get them to know, like and trust you just like you would a customer.
Now John calls it "stalking a journalist" but if you read his article, it's clear he's talking about good old fashioned "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" relationship building. In fact, he offers up five tips for getting your name in front of a reporter and building a positive association.
Journalists are just like everyone else in the world. They respond to thoughtful commentary, helpful input and human interaction. That doesn't mean you should start shooting off a daily email with all the news stories that came across your Google Alerts, but it does mean that sending the occasional interesting story or pointing to a relevant discussion might be a good idea.
Over the years I've built up a pretty decent list of journalists who have covered topics related to my various blogs and clients. Since I'm reading news related to these topics on a daily basis anyway, it's easy to pull the name and email address of a reporter into a database. If the article is of special interest, I may dash off an email or a blog comment to the reporting sharing my thoughts or simply thanking them for bringing attention to a specific topic. These contacts can come in extremely handy down the road when you're working up a story pitch.
A helpful hint? If you build a database like this, make sure you leave a field for links to articles they've covered and another field to make a few notes about what the article was about. You'll get a lot further with a reporter if your pitch includes reference to something they've written in the past and a creative way to tie your pitch into the past coverage.
Yes, it can be a fair amount of work to maintain this type of information, but if you're a small business I can promise you it's far cheaper than a subscription to Bacon's (well, Cision).
Media coverage, like links, rarely just fall in your lap. If you're serious about your online marketing initiative and want to super-boost to viral marketing that can come with mainstream media coverage, you'll get that database up and running ASAP.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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