Social Media Press Relations & Brand Management

November 9, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Hello! You still with us? I hope so because we are CRANKING. OUT. THE COVERAGE! This should prove to be another awesome one. Up on stage we have Giovanni Gallucci, Sarah Carling, and Chris Winfield.  Fun Fact: I just ran into Chris Winfield’s little girl V in the elevator on my way over here.  It was a total starstruck moment.  For me, I mean. She didn’t seem too impressed.  She ignored me and hugged her doll. I can’t blame her.

First up is V’s daddy, Chris Winfield.

Without publicity a terrible thing happens – nothing – PT Barnum.

Publicity and promotion is key to business now.  Chris shows the audience how much press he’s gotten over the years…and it’s kind of ridiculous.  If you haven’t gotten press over the past few years, blame Chris. Because he STOLE IT ALL. Chris says that a lot of his press was pre-social media but social media just makes things easier.

Leveraging LinkedIn

He asks how many people use LinkedIn. Mostly everyone raises their hands. But he was just kidding. He just wanted to see if people would raise their hand. One of the best things you can do with LinkedIn is to go to the How Journalists Use LinkedIn page and reverse engineer it. Look at it from the other side. Read the page and determine what YOU should be doing to attract journalists.

One thing LinkedIn recommends journalists use to find people is LinkedIn Skills.  This allows you to look for people who list certain skills and ranks them on different factors to help journalists find good sources.  Make sure YOU have your skills listed so that people can find you. It’s called Skill Rank.

To increase your Skill Rank:

  • Adds skills to your profile. What do you want to be known for?
  • Join group discussions
  • Follow related companies for each skill

Company Pages – Hopefully everyone has their company page set up.  Make sure your page is as complete as possible. People are going to look at that page to see what’s happening.  If people are looking to do a story, they can get information there.

Coordinate with employees before they make changes to their profiles, especially around new hires and departures. If you’re going to do a big press release about the new CEO you just hired, make sure he doesn’t change his LinkedIn profile first.  Even more important when people quit or you fire them.

There’s also an Advanced People Search.  Find out what a reporter would be looking for and make sure you have it in your profile.

Advanced Answer Search: Much more active than people think.  Do a search for your name, your company, etc, and you’ll be surprised about how many people are talking about you.

Tackling Twitter

  • Build Complete Media Lists: Make sure you have the Twitter handles for the people you are targeting.  You want to have as much information for the reporters and bloggers that you are targeting.  There’s a company called Bulldog Reporter. You can go and build media lists pretty cheaply. They go and give you a nice spreadsheet. They tell you how to pitch people. They don’t give you a Twitter handle, so you go on Odesk and pay someone ten bucks to get you 10,000 Twitter IDs. Now you have a nice media list. That becomes really important for targeting people.
  • MuckRack is another good site. It has every reporter, journalists, blogger, etc, and it organizes them based on how many followers they have, what they cover, etc. There are some cool things in it.  In the People tab, you can follow everyone based on what you’re targeting.  They also have a mass follow option so you can follow all the reporters in your category.
  • Help a Reporter Out: Started as an email list, but now you can follow the tweets for it.  You’re going to get some awesome potential opportunities there.  You’ll also find urgent stuff there when people want to find a reporter immediately.
  • ProfNet: Same thing as HARO, but different service.

Please secure your Twitter handles before you do any sort of launch. He mentions Netflix and how they didn’t secure the Qwikster Twitter handle before they released their new program.  It was being used by a pothead who was tweeting inappropriate things. If you’re Netflix, you don’t want that kid running with your brand name. They probably could have worked with the kid or Twitter to get the name. But they didn’t.

Google is the most powerful media outlet in the world. Why?  If you look for Qwikster now, the SERPs are filled with stories about how poorly Netflix handled that situation. Don’t try and take short cuts or think that no one is going to try and find you on Twitter.


Facebook helps you to build real relationships. If there’s a reporter he really likes, he’s going to want to connect with them personally on Facebook. By doing this, he’s able to find stuff out about them that he can bring up when pitching them the next time.   You create personal relationships.

Just remember….they can learn a lot about you as well. Don’t post embarrassing pictures or information that would discredit you and make them not want to talk to you.

What to Do When You Get Coverage

The more coverage the piece gets – the better for you. (use your Internet marketing skills and treat it like it’s a page on your own site)

  • Tweet it
  • Paid traffic
  • Build links to it

The author will be more willing to talk to you next time.  Plaster it everywhere

  • Your Web site
  • Auto responders
  • Email signatures
  • Newsletters

After all that, stay in touch. Be their friend. Be that good resource for them. Feed them information, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you.  Give them other sources.  Help them promote their other stuff.

Social media makes all of the above so much easier.

Next up is Sarah Carling.

She shows a really offensive tweet sent from the VodafoneUK Twitter account when one of their employees used the wrong account and sent out an accidental rogue tweet. There’s nothing you can do to avoid this. People are fallible and they’re going to mess up.  What you can avoid is responding badly. She shows how Vodafone responded by posting the same canned response for the next four hours.  They took a bad situation and made it worse.

Preparation is Key

You have to be prepared otherwise when the shit hits the fan, it’s going to be a really big pain in the ass.  She shows a picture of Preparation H and is very proud of it.  You’re adorable, Sarah.  Before you start any sort of social media, before you go out contacting journalists, you really do want to make sure that you know what you’re going to do if/when something bad happens. Because it will happen.

Get the Right People Involved:  That’s not always just the marketing team. Sarah mentions a large UK brand (who is remaining nameless) that decided to start a social media campaign without getting everyone involved. They had 16,000 complaints in their first month of social media use. They started referring all the tweets over to customer service who told them to sod off (heh) because they didn’t come to them about it first.  They never asked customer service if they wanted to open up a new complaint channel. They were never brought into the loop and, as such, customer service was really angry about it.  Marketing team spend hours and hours dealing with customer service complaints as a result. What had started off as a way to engage with customers turned into a way to turn even more people off.

It’s not just customer relations. It means that you need to have the phone number for the PR director of the company so if something happens on a Sunday, you can get in touch with him. and you’re not left hanging.

Monitoring is Mandatory: If you’re not doing monitoring, you’re not doing social media. Amen.

Who You Going To Call: Create a phone tree for your business so people know who to call when something happens.

Clean Out Those Skeletons: Before you start engaging with people, makesure you’ve cleaned out those skeletons. You want to know about dirty laundry before it hits you in the face.  Related to that, you want to look at ex staff members. If people have left under bad circumstances or if you’ve had nasty client interactions – you want to know what you’re dealing with.

Pick Your People Carefully: Matt Cutts may not have been the logical person to make the face of Google, but he’s the perfect person because he knows how to handle the fire.   It’s not always about finding the “right” person, you need to find the person who can do the job the best, regardless of their title.

Next up is Giovanni.

He says he is so burnt out on social media that it’s ridiculous. Well then. We’re glad you’re here. I think?

If you want to find long-term success, you must start off having a strategy and having a plan. You move into creating real relationships with people.

Case Study: TV Show called Troubadour, TX

Social options for reaching the press: Facebook, Twitter, Google+

Facebook ticks us off because they take advantage of us, they look at our privacy as a commodity to sell, etc.  If it’s free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product. Facebook is using us as the product. We’re not customers.  What are we gonna do about it? Now we have options. We have Google+.  Google launched Google+ and the crowd went wild! [insert your own sound effects] The response was unreal. Google+ hit 10 million users in 16 days. 120 days in they have 53 million users. And then everyone left.

Journalists like it. Photographers like it. But your mom’s not on it. And if your mom’s not on it then it’s just another network you  have to manage. So we go crawling back to Twitter and Facebook.

So we’re back to square one. Nice tangent.   Now he’s making everyone get him a new mic so he can walk around because he had too many Red Bulls this afternoon and can’t stand still. Okay, we’ll wait.  We’re all here for him, folks.

How do we get access to journalists on Twitter?

You’re not gonna go after the big fish all at once. You find the people put the show together and you get in touch with them.  About 25 percent of the people he follows on Twitter are journalists. Because he wants to get access to them.  Build your own ecosystem.  Don’t go for the star, go for the publicist.  See what you can do for the publicist in the social space. How can you help HER? Make her a star.

Invest your time in doing favors for others so you can become friends. Then she’ll introduce you to someone else.  You start seeing where the food chain goes.

Social media is not free. You’ve gotta spend time laying the foundation, creating your connections, and building that ecosystem.There’s time and money involved there.  What your doing today will help you with what you’re doing in 8 months because now you have a Rolodex.

Social Applications – be consistent.  Journalists are trained to look for inconsistencies. It’s blood in the water.

Blogger Relations

They came across a blogger who was harping on them in the press. They went and checked out the size of her audience. They saw her audience was the exact audience they needed to reach.  She mattered so they reached out to her. She was a small enough blogger that they knew that getting her face time with the host would win her over and make her day. They did. It did. Now she evanglizes them.


Giovannie says he doesn’t want to say journalists are lazy but…they do a search, find the first name they can of someone to talk to, and then make contact.  He ranks first for [social media expert], that means he gets A LOT of phone calls from reporters.   In the social space, if you don’t work search, you don’t exist. If you’re taking photos, embed exfi data into your picture.  It’s food for Google.  It’s relevant content.  He ranks for [social media expert] because he has it embedded in all of his photos which other people steal.

Facebook Pictures

Tag publicists, music journalists, artist managers and GASP – let them use pics for kinda free. He wants an audience for his photography and it feeds his business – which is marketing.

Harvesting the right relationships

Where do you find journalists?  Cision (fairly expensive – 3k for a worldwide license).  Tweet Adder – borderline blackhat. Lets you do searches on people’s profiles.  You can abuse this and be a scum bag, but Twitter will delete your account.

They do workshops to teach journalists about social media.  Feed them and make friends for life.

And we’re over time and my next session has already started. SEE YOU THERE!

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