A skilled PR pro from Baltimore is applying a new approach and getting an immediate pay-off.

Adam Yosim is practicing what I call “Read and React.” I’m sure you can guess what it entails.

He wrote me to share:

I just wanted to send a note of appreciation for your tips on Reading and Reacting. Sure, I learned it last year at your workshop, but I never got around to carving out time each week for the practice.

I started this week, and it’s paid off great dividends. I’m hearing back from reporters and editors that I previously pitched without success.

After just one week, Adam got through to a managing editor at CNBC, which has since led to an interview with his client. And another reporter with Money magazine accepted input from a client for a web story she was working on.

All in all, I wish I started reading and reacting on a regular basis last year, but better late than never.

Amen to that, Adam. All of us have things we’ve been meaning to get around to doing. Good for you for actually taking action.

If you haven’t attended the workshop Adam is referencing, it’s called Secrets of Media Relations Masters. The next one is in New York next month.

You and I get into a room with some other PR people and review not just principles like Read and React, but the nitty-gritty real world nuances that get results. I’ve seen two different people apply the same principle in media outreach, and one person gets an annoyed response and the other gets the coverage. The difference is in the details, and that’s why you attend a two-day workshop.

Would you like to be getting an immediate boost to your media outreach next month? Or wait a year?

These workshops usually sell out, and this one is already on its way to filling up.

Register today to secure your spot – hope to see you there!

 

P.S. Last year Adam had just left the TV news business. He was being hard on himself as he transitioned into PR and “wasn’t quite getting it at first.” A colleague recommended the workshop, and here’s what Adam said happened next:

It was a very eye-opening experience. A lot of the lessons I learned, I was able to use them right away and get immediate results. It was like a paradigm shift, and after the workshop, everything I was doing became fun. I could still do storytelling and be creative, which are the reasons I got into news in the first place.

 

A skilled PR pro from Baltimore is applying a new approach and getting an immediate pay-off. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it does take action.

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I recently concluded my busy spring speaking season (this year it extended into summer). And I noticed one principle that resonated from coast to coast.

In Times Square, it hit home with consumer product PR reps the same as it did in a lakeside hotel in Anchorage with oil & gas pros.

In a leafy Georgetown neighborhood in DC, policy wonks took note the same as stretched-thin social justice PR people in Indianapolis.

[My next public workshop is Secrets of Media Relations Masters in NYC in September].

Here are some examples of this principle in action:

– A consumer tech company reaches out to the US Postal Service and gets a nice third-party video on the USPS web site to drive traffic to

– An oil & gas company connects with a trade organization to land an item in its well-read daily email

– A stationery company provides a high-traffic article to the blog of a hobby training company

This isn’t a requirement to apply the overarching principle, but in each of the above cases, the placement resulted from reaching out to a fellow PR professional!

The principle is:

Expand the definition of “media” in “media relations” to include any third-party that is trusted by an audience you need to reach.

This pushes your media list past traditional media, past trade media, past digital-only or blogs, and into the content marketing or brand journalism of other organizations. And before you know it, you’re “pitching” folks with the title of “Brand Content Director” instead of “Reporter.”

Pitching traditional media still works, in the right cases when done properly. But your audiences’ eyeballs are spread further over an ever-increasing number of information sources. To stay relevant, you’ve got to follow those eyeballs elsewhere.

What are the companies or non-profits in your space that need new material each day to keep their successful content marketing machines going?

With PR pros from coast to coast and in industries as varied as oil and gas to consumer products and social justice PR, there was one thing I spoke about that all these pros agreed on. there was one principle I hit on that rose above the rest.

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People often ask me for tips on writing subject lines for pitch emails.

What’s the sole purpose of the subject line?

To get the recipient to open the email. Therefore, the absolute best, all-purpose subject line is:

I have your daughter.

Just kidding.

I’ve found some formulas that work and have shared some of them previously via these emails. But what I really want to tell people when they ask that question is something different.

You know what’s even more important to a journalist or blogger than the subject line of your pitch email?

It’s what is in the “from” column.

You want the journalist to see the email is from you and think,

Oh, [name] knows what I cover and only writes me with relevant, concise ideas. So even though I’m super-busy, I’m gonna open this email over the other 30 that came in since I checked last.

How do you get to that point? Try to lay the groundwork of your relationship BEFORE you have a story to pitch. Write to your key target journalists to let them know what you think of their work. Share useful info from third-parties. Tell how you’re sharing their work more widely.

When you do this correctly, they write back, and you have a nice little dialogue. And then, a little while later, when you actually have something to pitch, you really do have the absolute best subject line ever:

The “re: . . .” subject line of a successful previous email conversation.

P.S. If your reaction to this post is, “Yeah, sounds great, but I don’t have time to ‘lay the groundwork,’” I understand. I’ve been there. Work your best subject line magic for your cold email, but then really think about tweaking your workflow and processes so you can reach out to these key influencers BEFORE the next time you really need something from them.

P.P.S. Of course, there’s more you need than just a subject line to engage journalists and influencers successfully. I’d like to help you learn those field-tested skills. See below.

PRSA members, a special free offer for you

As a fellow member of our field’s professional society, I want to share with you my very best pitching tips. Click here for immediate access to three 2-minute videos with tips you can implement in less than a day to boost the results of your next pitch.

It’s great to tweak and refine the subject line of your pitch email, but there’s something else that’s even more important to the journalist or blogger you’re pitching.

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If you are better than you are being treated…

If the quality of your work exceeds the recognition you’re getting at the moment…

If you’re working hard somewhere in the vicinity of the bottom of the career totem pole…

…an experience I had last week should give you some hope.

This story is longer than what I usually post . . . there’s a reason for that.

It started about three years ago, when an organization in Alaska inquired about bringing me in for a training event. I was intrigued because I’d never been to that beautiful state. But I didn’t pursue it because of timing and because I (wrongfully) presumed I wasn’t in their budget.

But each year they kept coming back. This year the lady said, “Just give us a date and we’ll work around your schedule.”

So here I was with a paid invitation to Alaska.

I planned a vacation with my boys and my brother and we made it fit within our budget. But then word got out that I was coming, and two other Alaska organizations reached out to invite me for training events!

By the third one, the temptation to raise our vacation budget was irresistible. We booked a helicopter tour of the glaciers in the Chugach Mountains.

As we took off, my son said, “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M IN A HELICOPTER!”

The highlight was landing on a glacier. No roads – or even hiking trails – within 50 miles.

The pilot gave us plastic cups and we drank pure sparkling glacier water in the blazing summer sun.

My brother jokes that this next photo should be our “album cover.”

At one point we flew up and over a mountain. . . the ground dropped away. . . and the brilliant blue-green waters of Prince William Sound glistened beneath us.

You could see the sea otters playing in the water just below. Too magical to even take photos. It was one of those transcendent moments that you go back to again and again in your imagination.

When I got to one of the events I was speaking at, Carla Browning, one of the organizers, approached me.

“I don’t know if you remember, but I was in New Orleans in 2003 the first time you spoke at the PRSA International conference.”

Whoa, that was a long time ago. She added, “You came up to me in the hallway and gave me your card and encouraged me to come to your session – I think you were worried nobody was going to come! I took your advice and I’ve been following you ever since!”

I’ll confess I don’t remember talking to Carla in 2003. I don’t even remember hustling people in the hallways. But I do remember what that year was like:

-Working for the man day in and day out
-Desperately trying to find another stream of income because at the beginning of the month we had exactly $27.50 of discretionary spending money
-Anxiety about being able to cover the bills and wondering if I even have what it takes to just…. deal
-Two little girls (every trip to anywhere is non-stop “wheels on the bus go round and round”)
-Expecting baby #3
-Living in a 2-bedroom townhouse (“Honey, are we moving our bedroom into the living room so there’s room for the crib?”)
-Scrimping to save up for a down payment on a house with another bedroom

We weren’t miserable… but we were grinding. Not having a whole lot of fun. My friend Grant would always say “let’s go to lunch.” I would decline, because I didn’t want to spend the $4.52 for the Wendy’s bacon cheeseburger meal so I would always bring a sack lunch. But he wanted company so he would offer to buy me something on the dollar menu. And I would take him up on it…ouch.

That fall in New Orleans in 2003, I was full of fear before this speech because the event was a big deal and I was up against 11 other speakers during that time slot.

The point is, I had NO idea that my hallway hustle would lead to a fantastic vacation with my brother and my yet unborn sons in 2018 (!!!) (did that year even exist back then????)

This past Monday, when she introduced me before the workshop, Carla was kind enough to share that she’s been quoting my tips since our fateful introduction in that hotel hallway.

I just want to remind you – especially those of you who are in the early stages of your career – that there’s a lot of hallway hustles. A lot of experiences where you push yourself out of your comfort zone and don’t necessarily see an immediate payoff. And a lot of people whom you think you’ll never see again…. but they keep circling back over and over and you’ll continue to bump into them for the next decade or two.

Your interactions with those people are a lot more important than they may seem at the time.

The payoff for doing what’s right may come far, far into the future.

But it still comes.

You may someday be with wildly different companies, clients, or employers than I am, but the point is still the same. The point is that diligence and conscientiousness and risk-taking do get rewarded.

So… keep grinding and keep looking beyond the horizon. There are great journeys yet to be traveled.

P.S.: During the lunch break at one of the other Alaska events I lost a battle with the make-your-own-tacos. The white napkin was in my lap but a big hunk of guacamole fell out of my tortilla and splashed in the salsa on my plate and splattered all over my shirt.

Fortunately, the event was at the same hotel where I was staying.

“No problem, I’ll just head up to my room and get a new shirt!”

Turns out I locked the key card AND my wallet in the room when I left.

So I had to go down to the front desk – and with NO ID ON ME – had to ask to be let into the room. I took my place in line.

The clock was ticking and I was due to start the afternoon session of the workshop soon. Finally, the guy in front of me finished checking in.

Then he turned around and handed me his luggage! I realized he mistook me for a bellboy.

“You look like a good tipper,” I said, trying to turn an awkward situation into a compliment. “But I don’t work here, sir.”

He and the front desk attendant both got a good laugh.

I’m grateful to the universe for the guac and salsa on my shirt, the wallet locked in my room, and the man who thought I was a bellboy and the cosmic reminder not to let the helicopter trip go to my head 🙂

Excerpt: In 2003, a world without the iPhone, I hustled in the halls to get attendees to my PRSA workshop. As a result I went on the work trip of a lifetime last week and was reminded why the hustle pays off.

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Columns griping about PR, like the one that ran in the Washington Post last week, are nothing new.

I understand why this columnist is frustrated. And I admire the thorough way he researched the piece – if this were done more often, then the scenario he experienced would be less common.

But he let his guard down with one phrase that highlights the entire disconnect between journalists who feel like he does and the PR pros they are trying to motivate (shame?) via pieces like this:

“. . . looking for instances of companies that declined to comment or were rude enough to never respond to a reporter’s questions.”  (emphasis mine).

Wait – it’s rude not to respond to emails? How many emails from PR people did this columnist never respond the week he wrote this piece? Likely dozens, maybe hundreds. And that’s entirely okay. We get that journalists can’t possibly respond to all the incoming emails they get.

By the same token, a little realism on the part of these journalists might help alleviate some frustration. PR teams at brands like those on his “rude” list – Tesla, Google, Lyft, and so on – don’t have a blanket responsibility to respond to all questions sent their way.

Their job – and yours – is to evaluate the risks and opportunities posed by each inquiry and balance those against the other risks and opportunities their organization faces.

Personally, I prefer acknowledging each media inquiry. But I accept that we don’t know the set of facts these PR teams are dealing with – there may even be a good reason not to respond. If they choose not to participate in a story, that’s likely neither personal, nor hostile to the freedom of the press, nor rude. It’s simply a calculated business decision.

Just like a journalist who declines a media pitch. Or asks to interview your CEO for an hour and then leaves them out of the resulting story. Or asks for your help in finding an expert and then fails to name your organization in a piece, even though you asked politely.

As a consummate PR professional, you don’t dash off an angry email, nor a blog post lamenting rude media. You file that particular journalist’s behavior away and use it to calculate future decisions about working with them. As journalists continue to do about working with you.

The columnist quotes a few people who talk about building relationships between the media and businesses. Relationships are a two-way street. We in PR are racing to adapt to the changing media landscape.

Journalists need to do the same.

Last week a columnist wrote about “rude” PR people, but not about their terrible pitches for once! Here’s what he had to say and what I think he needs to understand.

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The 4th of July is my favorite holiday, for reasons that relate directly to you even if you’re not American.

It’s my favorite because it’s called Independence Day, and that reminds me of the entire reason I do what I do.

My coaching and training business exists to help you, the hard-working PR professional, achieve independence in where, when and how you work. At an even higher level, it’s to help you separate your own sense of meaning and value from your work. That’s being truly independent.

Remember when you were in junior high and you would walk into the cafeteria and look for your place, where you thought you fit in? Maybe you gauged your worthiness by the perceived status of the other kids who were nearby, whether they fully accepted you or not. I certainly did.

To be entirely candid with you, I see many (most?) PR pros doing the same thing as fully grown adults. Except instead of striving for a sense of belonging among adolescent peers, they are allowing bosses and coworkers’ (very subjective) opinions of them dictate their sense of self-worth.

Think hard and be honest with yourself. Do you do this?

This faulty measure of self-worth plagues even successful people. Their whole lives have been spent striving to meet the standards others set – how to get into a good college, then a sorority/fraternity, then a good job, then a promotion . . .

After a while, they don’t even realize that the choices they’re making are being driven more by other people than their own instincts for what’s best for them and the people closest to them.

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has been laid low by a health crisis that hit him in between jobs. He confessed that he had viewed his ever-increasing salary as a “scoreboard” from which he drew his identity. He didn’t realize how fake his worldview was until it all came crashing down around him.

I told him that this health problem will be one of the best things that ever happened to him. Because as he climbs out of it, he’s got his sights set squarely on what means the most to him and his wife. Not his perception of what it means to be a success among his peer group.

That’s what Ken Li did, and that’s why his story I shared on a previous Independence Day is the all-time most popular post I’ve ever written.

If you find yourself stuck in a trap similar to those I’ve described above, let July 5th, 2018, be the day you declare your independence from others’ measures of your individual value. Seek personal development and career progress because it gets you where YOU want to go, not what some vaguely defined “they” think you should do.

Wherever that destination is for you, I look forward to helping as much as I can.

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. It reminds me of the entire reason I do what I do.

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The woman sitting next to me on my flight to DC this week asked something about PR that momentarily startled me.

I was traveling to speak at a conference and do my Secrets of Media Relations Masters workshop (next one in NYC in Sept.)

We were doing the get-to-know-you questions before takeoff. She’s a fascinating individual – Ph.D. in engineering, visiting professor at MIT, longtime career as a professor, now on loan to the government with the mandate to help scientists and nerdy tech people translate their innovations to the marketplace. Very passionate and articulate spokesperson for STEM, especially for women and minorities.

Anyway, it was then her turn to ask me, “What do you do?” I have varying answers for that question – this time I went with, “I’m a public relations consultant.”

And she immediately responded with this question, which surprised me with its boldness:

“Public relations . . . and truth –“ she held up each hand as if weighing on a scale – “can they go together?”

Almost reflexively I said, “Truth is the only public relations that endures.”

Her eyes widened, she nodded her head, she paused as if that was profound to her. And then she said: “You should . . . you should publish that!”

So here I am ????.

But I assume your reaction is the same as mine – why is that statement significant? Isn’t it obvious?

Well, obviously not, if a successful leader found it novel. And she’s not the only one. Sometimes, because I’m surrounded by a cocoon of so many ethical PR pros, I’m overly optimistic about the reputation our field has among the public at large and among organizational leaders.

Shouldn’t do that. We need to consistently advocate for PR done the right way, that establishes enduring relationships, not one-time quick wins.

If you find yourself mixed up with people who encourage you otherwise, then it’s time to make a change. Not only will subterfuge and manipulation eat away at your soul, it flat out doesn’t work in the long term. People may never come and say, “I don’t trust you anymore.” But you’ll find your personal network shrinking. You’ll notice fewer invitations and outreach. And opportunities dry up.

As our plane leveled off and the wifi came on, I got back to work on my presentation deck and she started watching Wonder Woman. Before we deplaned, she wished me sincerely, “Good luck bringing the trust back to PR.”

Thank you for joining me in carry out her charge.

“Public relations . . . and truth – can they go together?” Besides my obvious answer, here are my thoughts on this conundrum.

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You know when you’re re-reading the pitch you just drafted . . . and you know it’s too long . . . but everything in it is relevant and potentially useful to the journalist you’re sending it to?

And despite all the research you’ve done, there’s no possible way to know which elements will intrigue them versus which you should delete?

I’ve got a solution for that 🙂

Before sitting down to write this I was doing a pitch review session with Inner Circle members. This was a tip I doled out a few times. Something that is so simple that many PR people are overlooking it.

Here you go:

Pick ONE thing (fact, angle, or element of breaking news). Build the pitch around that. Three (short) paragraphs at the most.

Then, when you’re about to close, you add “I’ve included three other possible story ideas below my signature.” Or “news pegs” or “research findings” or “possible expert sources” or whatever you’ve got to offer.

The idea here is to break up the long pitch, giving your signature as a strong signal that you’ve built a coherent whole pitch in just a few paragraphs. So they can get a quick reward of information for investing just a few seconds. Then, if you’ve appropriately intrigued them, they can review the additional info below.

Another approach is to include links to the additional info. That’s a good solution, too. But I like the idea of being able to hook the journalist with the first sentence of your first additional item. . . and then the second item . . . and so on.

Here are the two cases we used today for Inner Circle members:

One was pitching his CEO for media visits while she’ll be in NYC. Brand and stature-wise, she’s not gonna get those visits on name alone. So he wisely included newsy achievements and timely topics she can speak with authority about. Problem was, the pitch was like nine grafs long. So we zeroed in on ONE of those achievements to build the pitch around. Then moved the rest as bullets after he signed off.

Another wanted to pitch her restaurant management group to a trade pub for a feature because of their recent growth. The entire pitch was background about who they are and how fast they’ve grown. So we bumped all that below her signature, and instead focused on one thing they are doing that accounts for their success, that readers of the trade pub can learn from.

Now, none of this matters if your target journalists don’t even open your email. That’s where your subject line is key. I’d like to help you with that, too, but I’m about out of space here. So I’ve included more tips for you below my signature :).

To your success,

Michael

P.S. Here’s an article I wrote about the virtues of a contrarian subject line.

The first video on this page gives five tips for getting your emails opened.

You know when you’re re-reading the pitch you just drafted . . . and you know it’s too long . . . but everything in it is relevant and potentially useful to the journalist you’re sending it to? Well I’ve got a solution for that.

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I deserve a raise

The job market is red hot. Last year, three-quarters of PR pros got a raise, but more than half of those were 3 percent or less (source: PR News Salary Survey).

Because you’re reading my posts, you’re likely a go-getter who is performing well. And if you haven’t gotten a bigger raise than 3 percent – especially if you’ve been at the same job for five years or more – your employer would have to pay a lot more to replace you than they’re currently paying you.

That’s what an experienced PR recruiter and career coach told my Inner Circle this week. She recently talked with a candidate who is making $30,000 less than market value for someone with her skills and results.

Now don’t read this the wrong way – neither you nor I are entitled to anything. We earn what we’re paid, commensurate with the value we bring our employers or clients. But if that equation isn’t balanced, then it’s up to you to take steps to fix it.

If you like your current job, you don’t have to go out banging on doors just yet. Ask your boss for a “career conversation,” as my guest, Angee Linsey of Linsey Careers, calls it. She teaches that all professionals should be having these at least quarterly. And that smart managers who want to retain their best performers will welcome that cadence.

Angee outlined five steps to a successful career conversation during our Master Class this week, which is available only to Inner Circle members. She taught them how to prepare, gave tips on timing, and how to follow up to make sure they actually get that raise or promotion. I thought one of her most valuable contributions was a set of recommended statements that minimize the emotional discomfort associated with asking for money.

Here’s one of them:

Over the last 18 months I have really expanded my role by adding XYZ to my plate. Would this effort make me eligible for an increase in salary above the standard annual 2%? What would I need to do to make this possible?

So if you’re really delivering, ask for that career conversation today.

If you’ve already tried that, and the enhanced pay or independence you’re seeking hasn’t come, then you may need to move on. One Inner Circle member told me last month she returned to a job after two years somewhere else, and now she makes 49 percent more than when she left. Another took the media relations track record she’d developed applying what she’s learned in my program to a new company and got a 40 percent pay increase.

Inner Circle members are watching the recording of my presentation with Angee and applying her tips – you can join them right now. Here are all the details.

Now don’t read this the wrong way – neither you nor I are entitled to anything. We earn what we’re paid, commensurate with the value we bring our employers or clients. But if that equation isn’t balanced, then it’s up to you to take steps to fix it.

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Most PR pros slug it out with hundreds of other people every week to get noticed in our target influencers’ email inboxes.

Even though this is their most competitive real estate, PR people keep doing it because that’s what they’re used to and that’s what influencers have come to expect.

It’s like a “PR person mosh pit” that goes from bad to worse. You end up getting “bruised and bloodied” with weakened chances of success.

If you want superior results, you must have a superior plan to create those results. And one part of that plan is to show up DIFFERENT. The “least-crowded inbox” strategy is one way to do it.

Step back and scope out a different channel, one where there is less competition. Not every time, but enough to stand out so the influencer starts opening your emails later.

Here are some examples:

– A handwritten note referencing a recent piece and offering some additional value
– Posting a comment, not on the journalist’s primary article, but on his/her post on a less-trafficked blog or video channel
– Believe it or not, the phone is now a less-crowded channel, esp. on Friday afternoons

I shared this concept in more detail in a webinar I did, and a few weeks later I got an old-fashioned letter in the mail. It was from Lia Giachino, a sharp NYC agency pro who wrote that she wanted to reach me via my “least-crowded inbox.” Sure enough, hers was the only letter I got that day :).

Lia also shared that she had used the principles she learned in the webinar to land a feature story for one of her clients on MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal.

“I am always on the hunt for ways to improve my skills and your webinar has gone above and beyond. Since watching it I’ve seen a huge jump in my HARO responses and received very positive feedback from journalists thanking me for tailored pitches,” she wrote.

This “least-crowded inbox” strategy is a simple thing that 99% of your competition (except Lia!) will never do.

People want to believe that success is made up of silver bullets or “big breaks.” It’s not. It is made up of doing simple things 99% of people won’t do.

Lia has gone on to use her track record of pitching success to transition to a new job with a 20 percent raise. She deserves all the credit for seeking continuous improvement and taking action to implement what she’s learned.

And now I want to help you get pitching results like Lia’s through my special offer below.

PRSA members, a special free offer for you

As a fellow member of our field’s professional society, I’m happy to share my very best pitching tips with you. Click here for immediate access to three 2-minute videos with tips you can implement in less than a day to boost the results of your next pitch.

Most PR pros slug it out with hundreds of other people every week to get noticed in our target influencers’ email inboxes. If you want to stand out and get superior results, follow this strategy.

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