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.

October 9, 2007

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.



Being a journalist, I can only agree with this article. I hate receiving mails by people who have no idea why my newspaper should or not publish their info or press release. They just send it, in case we might find space to publish it or something like that. Most of the time, I don't even read them.

From experience, the mails that I'm most encline to read (and therefore maybe publish their info):
- show that they know my media, at least a bit, (internet or paper/country/fields of interests...) and if possible give an info that is oriented for our domain of interest.
- as said by Jennifer, mentionning a previous article on the same subject is welcome
- brief and to the point
- have 1 or 2 brief sentences at the top that describe the whole info.

Finally, with regards to the address list, I'd advise you to register to newsletters where other journalists might be included. Most people who send newsletters forget to put the addresses in BCC, so you can easily pick other e-mail addresses. Not the most honest practice, but really effective.

Thanks to Jennifer for all her interesting articles, I really learned a lot.


All I know is relationships are one of the most important keys to success. I almost wonder what could happen if more people realized this timeless principle. So long as you are genuine about it, people will recognize your efforts and wil be more willing to cooperate with you. As the famous Ralph Kramden said before, "It's not what you know but who you know!"

Joe Lagrav

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Building Relationships Works for the Media Too!