Jane Genova
Jane Genova

Social networks and digital media platforms without gatekeepers, such as blogs and Medium, leveled the playing field.

Organizations and individuals without budgets for top-of-the-line media representatives could receive amazing exposure. If they understood search engine optimization, how to capture attention, and the OCD skills of repurposing content, they could promote everything from products and services to causes and disruptive ideas.

That was then.

Both the web and mobile became crowded space. The results from self-promotion frequently reached points of diminishing returns—or worse, no returns.

What should be obvious is that organizations and individuals should be investing resources in generating exposure in third-party media—yes, the ones with the gatekeepers. They range from those with a print legacy such as the New York Times and the local business journal to digital natives like HuffPost and the blog launched by the foodies in Eastern Ohio.

Admittedly, it can be soul-wrenching to again do all that is necessary to develop relationships with the media gatekeepers. The odds of making a placement or being quoted in a wraparound article are usually not great. But, when successful, the ROI can be profound.

For too long I relied on my three syndicated blogs and social networks. Then, I embraced the reality that everything was changing, yet again. I had to re-enter the fiercely competitive arena of third-party media.

I pitched to Odywerpr.com the neglected aspect of diversity—age bias. Within 10 days, that published article brought in an actual offer for me to research and ghostwrite a full-length book on retirement. No, it was not simply an invitation to present a proposal. It was an offer, complete with a contract for me to review and sign.

More recently, this article, published in Odwyerpr.com on managing branding when having multiple sources of income, brought back a client from two years ago. The company, a firm specializing in career guidance, has put me on retainer for blog posts, researching survey questions, and e-books.

What guidance can we in communications provide organizations and individuals without large budgets for media-placement experts?

Here are seven recommendations which have been effective for those who are budget-challenged.

  • Analyze what gets into third-party media. Usually it is topical, involves brand name players and products/services, and has the unique angle. In order to introduce yourself as a source to media or pitch an idea or bylined piece you have to differentiate yourself. An example would be the branding as an outspoken advocate of X.
  • Follow individual journalists. Get a feel for what they are looking for. Send them an email now and then about an article they published. Then, pitch.
  • Read how-tos on the internet about media relations. Take the time to view web presentations and listen to podcasts. The game keeps shifting.
  • Make it your business to get published, anywhere. Media outlets pay attention to what other media outlets have accepted. A feature in the local newspaper about your restaurant with special menus for diabetics is a good start. Then leverage that clip to another media outlet that is a bit larger. Soon enough, members of the media are coming to you.
  • Leave likes and thoughtful comments on posts by media on social networks. Eventually, you are in a position of strength to pitch. It was well-known that Gawker, when operated by Nick Denton, would hire those who left interesting comments.
  • Link to third-party media on your own sites. They notice. That’s how I initially attracted the attention of publications which invited me to provide bylined articles and which sent my sites inbound links.
  • Create an internship for a public relations student. Digital natives, they have unique understanding of the attention game. The fair deal is to provide payment in addition to college credit.

Simultaneously, we all have to continue to post content on social networks and our own blogs and make it engaging. It was my blog post on outplacement for the over-40, last April, which brought in assignments from an executive search firm. Yes, blogging, although a mature medium, still has a pull force in business development.

You bet, all this is plenty of work. That is why more organizations are biting the budget bullet and contracting with affordable part-timers who have documented expertise in “promotion.” That umbrella term tends to cover everything from managing social networks/media to reaching out to third-party media.

In itself, that development provides a solid opportunity for recent communications graduates to start their own firms or simply earn a good living as full-time contract employees. Help-wanted ads for those kinds of communications services are posted on:

  • Craigslist – Sites, in major metro areas such as Los Angeles and Phoenix, under “Editorial” and “Marketing”
  • ProBlogger.com – Jobs
  • BloggingPro.com – Jobs
  • Mediabistro – Jobs
  • Journalismjobs.com.

There are two takeaways. One is for those needing publicity. And, that is everything keeps changing. Always be analyzing emerging trends in media.

The second is for newcomers to communications. That is, there is growing opportunity in configuring affordable media services for small and mid-sized organizations and for individuals. A doable starting strategy is responding to help-wanted ads.


Jane Genova (http://janegenova.com) provides coaching, research, ghostwriting, and editing for thought leadership content and other forms of marketing communications. Complimentary consultation [email protected].