Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer [Podcast]

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer [Podcast]

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer


PR People Are Already Marketing to Influencers


On the latest episode of the PR Talk Podcast host Amy Rosenberg interviews digital and social media marketing expert Neal Schaffer. Neal has written four books on social media including his most recent, The Age of Influence. Neal and Amy discussed Influencer Marketing during the interview, including the fascinating origins of the discipline which go all the way back to Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth.  

“Influencer” isn’t a dirty word

If you cringe when you hear the term: “influencer,” it might be due to its reputation based on vanity metrics (followers) and overpriced endorsements. The digital equivalent of a celebrity endorsement, influencer marketing got its start by focusing on celebrities with millions of followers charging huge sums for social posts or endorsements. But the success of these campaigns was measured with vanity metrics like follower counts, leading to inflated costs that were more than the actual return. Moreover, the followers were purchased, further driving their value down. 

Influencer marketing grew because people started throwing money at, resulting in corruption due to vanity and falsified metrics. There is no real ROI for a like or a follow. However, influencers don’t have to be celebrities. The savvy marketer will focus on the digital or social media influencer. 

Focusing on micro-influencers (10,000-50,000 followers) and nano-influencers (1,000-10,000 followers) provide better options in extending branding efforts. In fact, a great place to find your influencers is to examine your employees and comb your customers. You may find you already have micro or nano-influencers and you can work on converting them into brand ambassadors.


The definition of a digital influencer and how to find them

If influencer marketing isn’t all about celebrities, then who are the influencers to partner with? Are top executives influencers? Neal says that they are (or at least should be) influencers, but not necessarily digital influencers. If a CEO doesn’t participate on social media they can’t be a digital influencer. 

All of this sounds a lot like thought leadership, doesn’t it?

That’s where PR comes in to find — or help create — these micro and nano influencers. Employees tend to like, know and trust their brands the most. So first look at employees, for example sales people are influencers that are monetizing their influence with sales. In many organizations the CEO should be a primary influencer (aka thought leader). 

After starting with employees, look to partners (distributors, resellers) then to customers. 

Tools like Voila Norbert can be used to mine email addresses with social media data to connect with customers that may be potential influencers. From this you can develop a brand ambassador program.

While not discussed on the podcast, I have recently discovered SparkToro as a great tool to find potential influencers, websites, podcasts and YouTube channels based on keyword association.


Similarities between PR and Influencer Marketing

Influencers are the media in digital media. So the two marketing categories are essentially performing the same duties. If you consider bloggers and podcasters as a part of the media, like we do at Veracity, you are doing influencer marketing already. Amy says to think about it like this:

“If you do it right, influencer marketing is thought leadership, thought leadership is influencer marketing.” — Amy Rosenberg


Ready to become a B2B digital influencer?

Once you (or your executive) are ready to become a digital influencer, Neal provides some advice on how to start and pick which networks to participate in (I know you are all thinking LinkedIn for B2B). However, it is really hard (and/or expensive) to go from zero to @garyvee so begin by representing your company and then move to representing your industry.

Starting with the content type (text, image, video, audio) will help guide you to which social networks to focus on (of course you can do it the opposite way, meaning if you know you want to be an Instagram influencer, you better use images). In B2B marketing most content creation is going to be textual, video or audio (podcasts). There aren’t a lot of CEOs that are true visual content creators. This naturally leads to LinkedIn typically being the top social channel, but can also help decide which other networks to focus on. Neal also notes that if you don’t enjoy doing it, it won’t last.

“If you hate Tik Tok, stay off it. If you love to speak, do a podcast. Consistency is key as it is a competition for attention.” — Neal Schaffer

Here is a summary of the content medium, types and the social networks best suited:


Textual | Blogs, Articles | LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

Video | YouTube | LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram

Audio | Podcast | Linkedin, Facebook

Visual | Imagery, Photos | Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

What should the PR maximizer do?

Amy and Neal also talk about what PR maximizers can do, how brands typically suck at content (hint people are much better at it than brands), and even a little about their similar experiences living in Japan.

Click through to listen or watch the entire episode or even review the transcript below. As always, you can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer Transcription

Amy Rosenberg: [00:00:00] I have Neal Schaffer here today. Hi, Neal.

Neal Schaffer: [00:00:03] Hey, how’s it going?

Amy Rosenberg: [00:00:04] Good. So Neal is an influencer first and foremost, and an author, a speaker. And he is going to be speaking with us today about influencer marketing and LinkedIn marketing. And he’s written two books. His most recent book is The Age of Influence. And then before that, it is maximizing LinkedIn for business, as was, I think, your first book. Right?

Neal Schaffer: [00:00:30] So I’ve actually written four books. Ok, and my first two books were on LinkedIn and they were published back in 2009. And in 2011, I wrote a book called Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing. In 2013, I published a book called Maximize Your Social. And then The Age of Influence came out in 2020.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:00:49] Well, so can you just talk to us about all of this? Because in marketing, there’s a lot of buzzwords. So we’ve got influencer, you’ve got LinkedIn, we’ve got social like what is it all? And what is actually what is an influencer, first and foremost.

Neal Schaffer: [00:01:05] Yeah. So I guess just to take a step back, I’ve always been in the you know, I work I live to serve my own and ever since I left corporate and I’ve been on my own. And I’m sure that there are solo partners out there, maybe people that have their own PR agency, maybe journalists that want to go and do more freelance work. When you are by yourself starting a company, you need to serve the audience that you have, serve your current clients, serve those people that are listening to you. So I began my journey. I left corporate life back in 2008 and I began as a blog about LinkedIn because this was the only social network for professionals back then. And that led to me ending up because this was 2008, 2009, very similar to the economic situation where we are today, big transformation for many reasons in our economy and what have you. So that’s when I wrote my first book in 2009 on LinkedIn. And that ended up me launching what I call a social media marketing strategy consultancy in 2010. Now my background is actually B2B sales. I did do some business, have to do some marketing, but I lived and worked in Asia for 15 years and I often was what you would call the country manager, regional VP for Asia. So I had to wear a lot of hats. So yes, I had to drive revenue, but I had to hire people. I had to rent office space. I had to go and register to the Chinese state authorities, our domain name. So lots of other things. This experience in Asia gave me this really holistic business experience that even though my background was sales when all of this started taking off, where I don’t even think we call it social media marketing back in 2009, really, social media first lived with PR and probably some of you that have been around the block are nodding at the beginning.

Neal Schaffer: [00:02:49] I think a lot of budgets for social media began with PR, especially with reputation management. And we need to get Radian6 and everybody was Snout’s, you know, snapping up Radian6 and PRR was was very much in charge of that reputation management. So what happened after that? And really, as I wrote my next two books, the market has shifted away from just LinkedIn to we have Facebook now. We have Twitter now. We had the emergence of Instagram, Pinterest, and therefore my second book was more business book. And then my third book really reflected the work I was doing, which was helping companies create a social media marketing strategy and develop a way to measure the why of that. So I don’t have a PR background. And in 2010, companies weren’t looking to me for my PR expertise. They were looking for help with social media and it was often VP of marketing GMOs and therefore I gravitated towards that marketing side. Today I still do social selling trainings where I get back to my roots in B2B sales. But the influencer marketing, I mean, if we look at the landscape today with coronaviruses especially, we’ve had the entire digital transformation that’s affected every industry. Right. And with coronavirus, you know, we’ve always been digital first in the way we consume content and coronaviruses just even further accelerated that.

Neal Schaffer: [00:04:03] But more importantly, it’s made businesses realize, well, we have to digitally engage people. If we’re not doing that, we’re just we’re invisible.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:04:10] So let’s go back because this is a lot

Neal Schaffer: [00:04:13] And then we’ll get to influencer marketing. But, yeah, that’s sort of the background. And I want to mention sales and I want to mention influencer marketing and I want to mention public relations, because the three things that these that are in common here is it’s a one to one relationship. Right? Marketing is inevitably one to many, and it’s often driven by immediately measurable ROI. PR there’s ROI well. I mean, Goodwills is a intangible asset, right.

Neal Schaffer: [00:04:41] But when you have relationships with them, they are relationships, I think of regardless of the political spectrum. I think of the vice presidential debate last night and Kamala Harris saying, you know, Joe Biden told me that foreign relations is all about relationships, it’s all about making friends, sticking true to your word, helping people and. Lonesome marketing is all about relationships as well, so I’m now telling marketers, you know, if you don’t have the time to create individual relationships one on one, maybe should involve your PR team. And I actually think the same with how journalists found new a new beginning with content marketing. I believe the influencer marketing gives the potential for PR professionals to have a similar new area in which I. I honestly think they could significantly contribute to the success of whatever company they’re working for in that area. So I’ll take a step back now.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:05:30] Ok, so there’s a lot here. So PR and influencer marketing has a lot of similarities and I do want to talk about that. I just I want to go back to your earlier experience in Asia. Sounds like you’re running companies or groups. Right. So how does how did social media and LinkedIn say whatever was around then? How did that come into play for you there?

Neal Schaffer: [00:05:54] It didn’t. This was entirely before social media. I was one of the first million members of LinkedIn because I was involved in a a Silicon Valley, you know, company. So it was high tech. And I think a lot of the LinkedIn early adopters were high tech. There was some business development guy. I don’t even know where he got my, you know, my email. But anyway, I got an invite. I joined really didn’t do anything with it. It was when I was in transition for the first time in 2008 when I was back in Southern California. No local network, no industry network. It’s like I got to do something networking wise. And that’s where I really helped them LinkedIn. But what was interesting is that later on in January 2010, I was negotiating my first business contract. I had formed an LLC. At the same time, I had a job offer for Director of Business Development APAC for a high tech company, and they were twenty something co-founders who were married. And they said, Neal, if you’re going to be if you want to work here, you got to unplug from social media. It’s not going to help you do your job. And it’s like, OK, this is the fork in the road. Right? And that’s how I decided that. I just thought there was way too much upside with social media. So, yes, that is, you know, my professional career really is before social media because it’s just not the mass scale it is today. Just so few people were on it that there was little you could do.

Neal Schaffer: [00:07:09] So when you’re talking about director of marketing and sales and they’re saying no social media or no LinkedIn, what does that so like, can we kind of unpack that we get like how incorrect that possibly was? Because marketing and sales. So how do we use LinkedIn for both disciplines?

Neal Schaffer: [00:07:31] Yeah, so you mean in two thousand twenty, two thousand twenty one, correct?

Amy Rosenberg: [00:07:34] Well, possibly. I mean well, I would just say now I think. Yeah, how? I think that there two majorly different topics. But I think at that point you are probably looking at using LinkedIn possibly as more of a sales tool for certain companies or certain jobs. And then you evolved to be looking at it as more of a marketing tool.

Neal Schaffer: [00:07:54] Yeah, I’d say at the beginning it was LinkedIn for networking back in 2008. It was my first book was influenced by my own job search and my own personal branding. So that definitely played a role in that as well. But really, back in 2010, 2011, we saw more and more companies trying to tap into LinkedIn companies that were trying to create LinkedIn groups, for example, as a marketing, you know, marketing effort, trying to we didn’t have the term employee advocacy back then, but definitely trying to tap into getting their employees on LinkedIn. And obviously, there’s you know, if you’re in B2B sales, LinkedIn is a no brainer. But today, if you’re in real estate, it’s a no brainer. If you’re in insurance sales, it’s a no brainer. So even be to see if you’re targeting a wealthy consumer demographic, then from a sales and marketing perspective, LinkedIn is a no brainer as well. So it becomes one of those networks. But it really started out, you know, LinkedIn for sales and marketing is still very limited because everybody was talking about Facebook back then and even more so Twitter. And therefore, after I wrote my first book in 2009 and when I started the consultancy in 2010, I realized that marketing social media market was not going to be just about LinkedIn. I didn’t want to be the one-trick pony. And therefore I started doing my own Facebook, my own Twitter. I think I joined both back and I think I joined Twitter two thousand eight as well, Facebook two thousand nine.

Neal Schaffer: [00:09:27] And then as I picked up clients, I had to do a lot of learning. Right. And I had to become experienced in all these platforms. So it’s not me telling the customer they need to use these platforms. It is their needs and where their audiences dictates what platforms need to be included in the strategy. So it was really doing a lot of that social media strategy consulting work where I became fluent in really every platform I could. So, you know, fast forward, you know, a lot of people from ten years ago know me as LinkedIn expert you were talking about. I’ve written a book on LinkedIn for people that remember me. They still see me that way. I see myself as not being the ultimate expert in anything, but really well versed in everything and being able to tap into that and really provide a very holistic, you know, strategy and solutions for my clients because everybody has different needs when it comes to all of this. Right. So that’s where LinkedIn came in. And then obviously Facebook, Twitter were heavily marketing focus, not sales focus at all. Today there’s a little bit of Facebook for sales, but still primarily marketing. And then obviously we have the emergence of Instagram, which has taken over Facebook for a lot of companies. We have Tik Toc emerging. We’ve had Snapchat. Pinterest is sort of out there for e-commerce, for female demographic. So there’s it’s all we’ve had blogging, we’ve had YouTube, we’ve had content marketing and we’ve had influencer marketing and influencer marketing.

Neal Schaffer: [00:10:49] So influencer marketing has been around for a long time. Influencer marketing really has emerged. It’s the digital equivalent to a celebrity endorsement right into my book, I think The Age of Influence. I think the first chapter or the first two chapters, I go into the history of this, right. That it’s actually that concept of tapping into someone that’s famous and then promoting your brand. It’s  Charlie Chaplin. It’s, you know, it’s Babe Ruth and silent films and radio commercials. And then obviously the TV commercial. And even today we still have that.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:11:20] So I just want to be clear. Yeah. People there’s kind of a rumor going around that we’re not interested in influencer marketing. So I just want to preface that it has changed.

Neal Schaffer: [00:11:32] So it’s changed because the consumer, how we consume content change. So if we can ignore the fact that we have an Internet, then, yeah, we can go back and do business as usual. But it has changed. And the analogy I like to give, you know, when I was growing up, when I was in high school to age myself here, Top Gun came out and the next week one of my good friends showed up at school and high school, riding a motorcycle with a leather jacket and a Tom Cruise haircut. That when I was growing up, the people that influenced my generation were celebrities, right? They were movie stars. They were sports stars. They were musicians. Ask your kids who influences them. They are tick talkers. Their Instagram was their YouTube. That is a fundamental shift. I mean, you know, unprecedented shift. When the Internet emerged, the celebrity endorsement was still strong. And in fact, we can say some of it converted over. But when we get to social media, especially the last. Five years, right, you know, Instagram and YouTube and Twitter and Snapchat as well, I guess you could say the visual has really changed. What’s happened is that brands can still create a Facebook page. They can use ads, they still have mass brands can still show up in search results. They have the resources they can create the content they can invest in. SEO, how many brands are doing podcasts? How many brands are doing YouTube channels? How many brands are doing Instagram channels correctly? Right. The reason why people rule these channels is because they’re better content creators than brands. Brands suck creating content? I will say that again, brands suck at creating content. Any brand could have invested money to become an influencer.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:13:12] And they did when you say that. So let’s not talk about it. So who are you’re saying that people are influencing these channels? Those people are influencers. So let’s talk about who those people are now. There might not be celebrities now. They could be anybody. And I read in your book that you even say that the CEO might not even be an influencer in your company. So then who are they?

Neal Schaffer: [00:13:39] Ok, so there’s there are influencers and there are digital influencers, right. There might be a CEO who’s extremely influential, who just is not on social media. So and that is a valid influencer. So what I’m talking about here are we spend more time online. I mean, that’s the number one sort of activity we do as people these days. And when we’re online, the number one thing we do is social media. Right. So when I’m talking about as people that are influential in social media, so what does that look like now? You know, the history of influencer marketing started with the celebrity endorsement, but we didn’t really hear about influence marketing as a buzzword until, I don’t know, three or four years ago. So you have things like the frye festival, right? You have things like who are these people that have 10 million followers and charge twenty thousand dollars per post on Instagram? So you have an industry that’s been developed and you had a lot of consumer-facing brands that threw a lot of money at vanity metrics, for lack of a better word. You know, PR professionals probably, you know, some PR professionals. Look at those likes on Instagram as vanity. Some may not similar to how some PR officials look at clips as vanity metrics.

eal Schaffer: [00:14:48] And others say, well, that is a valid metric to see the exposure that you’re that your press release got. Right. Similar similar fact. But what happens, the influencer marketing industry grew because brands were spending a lot of money. So it’s almost like a conflict of interest, influencer marketing industry and all the talent agencies and marketing agencies and tools, they’re all pushing people with more and more influencers because they can charge more and therefore they get a bigger commission. Right. So what happens is, well, you know, if just having more followers is worth more money, I’m going to use bots. I’m going to do anything I can just to get more and more followers and I’m going to buy fake followers. And that is what’s happened over time. So in parallel, these people have priced themselves out of the market. There’s no ROI for the like. Companies are looking for more ROI in terms of deeper engagement. Right. And all the way back to the website, the shopping cart, what have you. So what happens now is that back in 2015 and 16 and I’m not from the influencer marketing industry, I’m an outsider here. Right. So don’t don’t don’t get mad at me.

Neal Schaffer: [00:15:48] But they started to say, you know what? Even micro influencers have influence. These are people that have between ten and fifty thousand followers. So they’ve widened the pyramids, that there’s more and more influencers in the pool that brands can choose from and they can find people at a more reasonable rate. Then interrupt. Before I started writing The Age of Influence, they started talking about nano influencers. And these are people that have between one and ten thousand followers. So that’s the definition that I stick to. But I say, look, if someone with a thousand followers, they talk about Instagram. I say any social networking site, anyone that has a thousand followers has some influence, because if they have a thousand followers, number one, they probably have somewhat of a personal brand. They filled out their personal profile. Number two, they’re publishing content. I don’t know if it’s their own content. Right. They might just be curating content. They might be just sharing company content, like if you’re a salesperson, but they have enough reach. That’s, you know, your brands Facebook business page. So that’s ten thousand fans might get five, ten engagements for post. These people with a thousand followers are going to get 10, 20, 50, maybe 100 engagements purpose.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:16:57] So how do you find these people that might be your influencer?

Neal Schaffer: [00:17:03] This is where the PR professional comes in, like Robin Hood on the horse, because when you continue to read The Age of Influence, so you know, all these brands were chasing all these people with lots of followers because they were influential about certain subjects. Right. But when it gets to the nano influencer level, I said, let’s take a step back. OK, how many people that already know, like and trust our brand, are in our sphere of influence. So where do we start? Who likes, knows and trust us the most, our employees. OK, 98 percent of American employees are active on at least one social media profile, right? This is 10 years ago. I couldn’t say that today we can say millennials are the majority of our workforce. So more and more I and even my 15 year old daughter is like five, six hundred followers on Instagram. Right. So more and more, there’s a lot of people around us that have more and more influence. So we first look at our employees. If we’re a B2B organization, our salespeople are influencers because guess what? They can monetize their influence. They don’t monetize their influence through twenty-five dollars Amazon gift cards for an Instagram post. They monetize it through sales and the bonuses they get.

Neal Schaffer: [00:18:17] Ideally, the executive, the CEO should be the ultimate influencer of your organization. And if I was a PR professional, I mean, I’m working with the CEO of a large company right now, and he understands he wants to be the role model if he expects his employees to be advocates for the brand in social media. Right. He has to be the role model. So you have sometimes PR professionals that are managing the social media accounts and the content of the executive team and helping them, which is valid. You have the internal communications that sometimes is trying to be the cheerleaders to get the employees on board. But you start with that, right? And then you start to branch out who are our partners? Right. If we have resellers, we have distributors, partners. Right. That’s another layer of people that like know they make money every time they get business with our product and service. And then what’s exciting for me is we take it out one step further. We look at who are our customers. We literally go into our customer database, there are free I know as a PR professional, you’re thinking, is this really legit? But there are tons of free tools. They’re not free tools. They’re inexpensive tools at Fortune 500 brands use to take an email address. From a customer database and a pendant with social media information, append it with an Instagram profile or LinkedIn profile, whatever you want, write one service that I use, I recommend it’s called Voila Norbert. Funky name, but great service, very inexpensive. So now we can see who of our customers are nano influencers. I did this with a hair color company that’s a client of mine, and they were taking the opposite approach to reaching out to people and hoping that they would work together as a PR professional. If you’re doing a cold pitch, they don’t convert very well, just like a cold call for sales doesn’t convert real well, but they found that there are people like 150,000 followers and Instagram profiles are already customers. Now a marketer. So a marketer. Let me just finish with this. The marketers are now saying, how do I reach out? What do I say? The PR professionals say they’re already a customer. I can craft a personalized message and say, hey, we’re starting a brand ambassador program. We noticed you’re one of your one of our customers and you’re pretty active and social. How might we be able to collaborate? You have 15 minutes for quick call to chat, right? That’s where the PR professional comes in and I think can really drive this forward.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:20:31] Oh, OK. So now what about consumer versus B2B? Because I’m curious, like the CEO who wants to lead and do a lot of social is the CEO and a consumer brand or B2B just for an example. And then, of course, let’s just talk about how you can possibly leverage this for B2B.

Neal Schaffer: [00:20:52] I think that it’s more I mean, it could be both, right? If you want your employees to get involved, then it really starts at the top. Now, when it comes to B2C, I don’t know how many CEOs are true visual content creators because consumer you know, in social media, it’s visual content, primarily in B2B, it’s more textural content, more podcasts, more videos of people talking. So that’s where the B2B should be a natural. And one thing that I’ve found is that with coronavirus and with digital marketing, I think that more and more executive team, they want to have more direct contact with the end customer and you sort of lose a lot of that digitally and you sort of want to get it back. You want to be able to communicate directly with the consumer or with the B2B buy or whatever it is. And that’s where the executive team has the ability to do that. By just directly, I mean, the CEO that I work with when he talks, people subscribe. His employees subscribe to his podcast. Right. And for him, it’s like I know that every day there’s all sorts of noise out there within the company and different company news and blog posts. But I can be direct and I want everybody in our company to hear this. And when you begin not only to represent your company but to represent the industry, you now have content that is suitable, both internal and external. Right?

Amy Rosenberg: [00:22:12] I love that. Mm hmm.

Neal Schaffer: [00:22:14] So that’s where I believe that the CEO, especially of B2B, can be more impactful. But even B2C, we’ve seen Richard Branson, Elon Musk, we can go on and on. But I mean, you have to have something to say. You have to feel comfortable on a public stage. It’s not for everybody. And I get that. So I wouldn’t force it on an executive, but there’s huge potential if they join along.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:22:35] So speaking of B2b, it sounds like for me possibly uneducated about this, my brain just goes to LinkedIn. So what do you say about that?

Neal Schaffer: [00:23:07] Yeah, in terms of social media, B2B, LinkedIn, without a doubt, every company that’s B2B that I work with, that is the first platform of choice is number two. Twitter is number two, Facebook. Is number two Instagram, it’s usually either Twitter and or Facebook, but, yes, you’re absolutely right. But there’s two different ways of looking at this is where we take a step out of social media and the digital media. Right. You have social networks, but you also have content mediums. And the notion of yielding more influence is you’re probably going to yield more influence in one of the four major types of content mediums, either text, which is a blog, visual imagery, which primarily is Instagram, not limited to then your video, which I consider YouTube, and then you have audio, which is podcast. So whether you want your team to have your employees to have more or you want to tap into other people’s influence, that’s really where you need to begin. What content medium will it be? Because that often will decide what social networks you should be more active on than others. So, yes, you could be a LinkedIn, but wouldn’t be great if you also had a podcast. So in addition to sharing information on LinkedIn, you could also link back to your podcasts. You could also link back to your YouTube video, or you could link back to your company’s podcast, your company’s YouTube video, in addition to the blog post.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:24:33] So and there’s so much that you can do. So a maximizer like me. I want to do everything for you. So what do you do? How do you narrow it down or do you narrow down? Should you just do it all?

Neal Schaffer: [00:24:45] Well, if we’re talking about individual people, the golden rule here is if you don’t enjoy doing it, it’s not going to last. OK, you got to be passionate about it, OK? Yeah, if you know, if if you hate tik tok, then stay the heck off it. Right. There’s plenty of other social networks. If you don’t like video, don’t do video. If you love to speak to a podcast, right. Do whatever is going to be easiest and whatever is going to last longer because you don’t want to become one of the 50 percent of podcasts that only go 10 episodes. Right. Or the people that go I’m starting a video channel this year and then two YouTube videos later. You never hear from them. As you know, consistency is key not just because of the way the algorithms work, but it’s a competition for attention. And the minute your podcast, your, you know, your YouTube channel, the minute you drop off, people find other content in their feed and they engage with that and you lose that engagement. Right. So that’s why consistency is important if you want to be successful.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:25:43] Ok, so let’s kind of pivot over to the differences or the some. Actually, I think there are more similarities between PR and influencer marketing because a lot of people say PR is about relationships, even though in my intro to this podcast, I say it’s not about relationships. Oh, doing it right, OK, because I think it’s beyond relationships. I don’t think you can do a lot of national PR with just relationships. Right. Like, I can’t necessarily have that relationship, you know, with thousands of reporters, but I can still get the coverage. But for LinkedIn or LinkedIn, I mean, influencer marketing, possibly, it’s easier because it’s online and you can have these relationships. And it also sounds very curated. So when I was reading the intro to your book, it sounds like for influencer marketing, we do want to be thoughtful. We want to curate, you know, what we’re doing. And the same with PR. We don’t blast out emails. It would just go into junk. So we’re very thoughtful about what we do as well.

Neal Schaffer: [00:26:52] Yeah, I just want to throw this out there that, you know, when we think of, media outreach, which is one of the common tasks that we associate with PR who are the media today, who are I believe that the influencers are the media and digital media. And I’ll just give you one talking point, which is, I work with one of the largest book publishers in the world. And in March of 2020, well is actually maybe January, February before this whole pandemic, you know, and I had the conversation. Do you recommend I do traditional media outreach? Should I hire a publicist on and on and on. And their answer was, you know what? We don’t think the ROI in traditional media outreach is there. It’s going to cost you a lot. You might get something, might not. We don’t know how effective it’s going to be. We recommend you reach out to podcasters and bloggers. Right. I get pitched all the time. We want you to know we’d love our client to be on your podcast. We’d love our client to be featured on your blog. That is because influencers are there are only so many people that talk about a certain subject. I was on a podcast interview yesterday and this guy goes, man, I was an influencer in heli-skiing. You know, you’re dropped from a helicopter without realizing it because how many people, how many nano influencers and above are out there that are posting consistently about heli-skiing? And if you have a product, I mean, if you provide tours just for heli-skiing, there’s only so many people out there that you can tap into. Now, big consumer brands have a bigger pool, but you get in the niche B2B, you know, if you want to be found, do Google searches, do social media searches. It’s a finite number of people. And generally, it’s more people you find than organizations that might be from some organizations, some competitors. So that’s what it comes down. That’s really what it comes down to.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:28:39] So what’s really interesting is my firm, we consider podcasters and bloggers, media. So it’s just an interesting way, you know, they’re all on our media list. So it’s a different way to look at it. It’s a little harder because the release of podcasters are not in the traditional media software that we use. We have to go get that ourselves. So and then when I was saying earlier about PR, some PR people not really liking influencer marketing, they’re not valuing it. It’s because of that misconception that everybody must be a celebrity and it might be expensive or that they’re priced out of it.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:29:18] And so that’s just not the case.

About the guest: Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular social media speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 4 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and The Age of Influence – The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

Connect and follow Neal on social media:

Neal Schaffer on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Maximizing PR for SEO: Mike Rosenberg: CommCon2019 [Podcast]

Maximizing PR for SEO: Mike Rosenberg: CommCon2019 [Podcast]

Traditional PR Transformation: Maximizing PR for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I will be presenting at PRSA Oregon’s CommCon event on May 3rd to help PR and communications professionals add SEO to their marketing toolbox. With a short history lesson, the overall basics of SEO and some specific how-tos, I hope attendees will realize that they are already doing many SEO-worthy activities. A little extra work and strategic planning can pay major dividends.

Presentation Abstract:

Many traditional communications professionals may be surprised to learn they’ve been part of the “IT” crowd all along. In fact, we’re leading the way. Due to continued competition and Google’s ever-evolving ranking algorithms, it continues to be difficult to achieve high rankings in Google for a website. Instead of completely removing “traditional” PR’s role, now the most technical search marketer must rely on our savvy to take their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the next level.

This presentation will offer attendees a deeper understanding of the SEO game, instilling them with the confidence, language and basic understanding to insert their skillset into any digital or website discussion. We’ll then delve into how to transform typical PR strategies to include SEO results. And finally, we’ll offer hands-on practical tips that should be infused into any digital PR campaign.

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Ciara Pressler: Pregame [Podcast]

Ciara Pressler: Pregame [Podcast]

Going Long with Ciara Pressler on Pregaming your PR

Check out Pregame at a live taping of PR Talk with
Malia Spencer, PBJ startup and technology reporter

Ciara Pressler is a force of nature. Not only does she run Pregame — a training program for entrepreneurs who want to maximize their time, money, and opportunities — she’s also published two books and has written regularly for the Huffington Post.

Ciara gets a big charge out of helping other entrepreneurs realize their business goals. Much of that comes from giving them an opportunity to interact with other professionals. “Having a trusted group of people who can give you feedback is invaluable,” Ciara told me. And that’s exactly what Pregame provides.

Speaking of Pregame, I’ll be interviewing startup and technology reporter, Malia Spencer of the Portland Business Journal, during a live taping of my PR Talk podcast at Pregame HQ on Thursday, June 7th, from 5 – 7 p.m. The event is free for Pregame members and guests can attend for $47.

With so much on her plate, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with Ciara about her history and experience in PR, along with the work she’s doing with other local entrepreneurs.

A Roundabout Journey Into PR

Ciara began her career working in the performing arts. From there she transitioned into marketing and quickly realized that if she wanted to serve her clients well, she needed to learn the finer points of PR. Before branching out on her own, Ciara worked for a company that produced 120 events every year in fashion, art, and music.

Pregame was born out of Ciara’s desire to get all the information she’d learned from years in the trenches out to more people. “I wanted to create an environment where people could come and learn — especially solopreneurs — who don’t have an office full of people to draw from,” she said.

The Pregame clubhouse has been open in Portland’s Pearl District since August of 2016 and before that, Ciara taught workshops for several years in New York, LA, and Seattle.

Ciara describes Pregame as “a gym for your goals” and the elements of her training take on similar sporting themes. Classes are called “workouts” and the weekly small group check-in meetings are called “hometeams.”

Pregame courses cover topics like setting and achieving professionals goals, marketing and PR fundamentals and even guidance on publishing a book, expanding your speaking career, and establishing yourself as a thought leader. Pregame members also have access to expert sessions on topics like sales, finance, operations, team management and PR — of which I am an honored PR “expert,” hosting a Q&A hour every fourth Wednesday at 11 a.m. that I am allowed to bring two guests to (let me know if you are interested).

So what common themes does she see with all these businesses? “It’s that balance between specializing and being general,” she told me. Pregame helps people refine their model so they’re selling something people want to buy that’s also something these entrepreneurs want to create and build.

PR Do’s and Don’ts

After years of experience working with entrepreneurs, Ciara has some advice to share on the Do’s and Don’ts of managing your own PR campaign.


  • It’s your responsibility to be PR ready. That means having photo assets, service menus, and a website that can handle increased traffic in place before you begin a PR campaign.
  • Trust your PR professional so you can let go of the reigns and let them run with their job.


  • “When I’ve dealt with clients who have come to me because they’ve had a really bad experience with a marketing or PR agency and they want me to fix it, sometimes they’ve started that process too early,” Ciara said. “If you don’t have your marketing on point that people are going to see if they do hear about you in a bigger press outlet, then you don’t have any business doing press yet,” Ciara said. “You can’t go back and do it over again.”
  • Don’t hire a PR firm when you need to elevate your sales. PR is for building reputation and brand.

If you’d like to sharpen your own PR skills, Pregame will be launching a DIY PR bootcamp this summer in partnership with Travel Portland. They also offer courses that will help you get ready before you hire a PR firm. Ciara says the goal for these courses is to “get people in a healthier place to maximize time and money before making that investment.”

About the guest: Ciara Pressler

Ciara is an entrepreneur with 15 years of experience advising entrepreneurs and innovators on brand and growth strategy. She’s consulted, coached, and partnered with hundreds of business leaders from New York to Los Angeles, Singapore to Moscow.

She’s the author of two books, Exit Stage Right: The Career Change Handbook for Performers and Game Plan: Achieve Your Goals in Life, Career, and Business, the founder of Pregame, and works as a member of Pressler Collaborative, a marketing and PR firm serving entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators.    

Connect and follow Ciara Pressler on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Thought Leadership Positioning [Minicast]

Thought Leadership Positioning [Minicast]

A 5-Point-Guide to Maximizing the “Brains” at Your Disposal

There are many articles about how to become a thought leader. But if you’re in credit union marketing or PR, you need to know how to position one of the many “brains” within your organization as a thought leader. Sorry folks, not too many people want to hear from marketers, especially not the general public. Current and potential credit union customers want to know about financial and economic matters—things affecting their own bottom lines—subjects that a marketing person couldn’t, wouldn’t nor shouldn’t talk about.

Before we get into how to find and utilize these experts, let’s review the types of experts credit union marketers should be hunting down. They can be discovered among executive leadership teams, staffs and boards.

Types of credit union thought leaders:

  • Small business financing.
  • Mortgage lending.
  • Car loans.
  • Personal finance.
  • Family finance (getting kids to invest).
  • Diversity experts to help include under-represented communities, such as loans for women business owners or mortgages for minorities.
  • Your credit union’s niche area, such as teachers for credit unions focusing on teachers, veterans for credit unions focusing on veterans, or community ambassadors for credit unions focusing on a specific community.
  • How general economics affects all of the above


Veracity’s 5-Point-Guide to Maximizing the “Brains” at Your Disposal


1. Hone your “Expert-Dar.”

Learn how to sniff out the people you should be positioning as experts. The main way to do this is to listen with an open mind. You never know who your expert might be. With so many topics to talk about, it’s more important than ever to keep your ear to the ground. Get to know people who can feed you the information you need by attending events, interacting with people, asking questions, and again listening with an open mind.


2. Build a rapport.

Once you’ve selected your experts make them your best friends. At the very least get comfortable talking with them so you can call them in a pinch. Try the following things to turn your “brain” into an approachable bestie:

  • Talk to them at events and meetings.
  • Take them to coffee, lunch or happy hour.
  • Listen to them speak in seminars, classes and meetings. Talk to them about what they’ve said. Everyone needs a friendly face in the front row.
  • Sign up to volunteer in their group if your credit union partakes in volunteering efforts.
  • Simply ask to “pick their brain” as frequently as comfortable.

When you’re doing any of the above items, don’t talk at them, let them do most of the talking and listen intently. Imagine the kinds of stories you could pitch or articles you could place with the information they’re bestowing upon you.


3. Write it down!

Once you get them going, write down everything they say! Oftentimes when experts are rambling, they’re “giving” us the press release, article, media pitch, whatever! For this reason, I love it when my clients talk at me. We type down everything they say and use it later for a piece.

Be prepared to write things down constantly. For example, if you just need some quick info from your CEO but she’s in a chatty mood, let the conversation flow and write it all down because you can use the extraneous information for something else later.

Why talk at all if experts could just type out answers to your questions? Remember that you have the marketer’s insight and your expert does not. Important points that your expert quickly glosses over can be honed in on during conversation. I understand that time is limited so you’ll have to use your best judgment on whether or not to talk about each opportunity. After doing this for awhile, hopefully you will have a lot of copy you can re-use. Even more important, hopefully you’ll be getting opportunity after opportunity and you’ll all be so busy you just can’t talk about everything!


4. Convert your notes.

I understand if the idea of having to ghostwrite an article on behalf of your Board President sounds intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be if you’ve done the third step and are coming to the computer with a page full of notes. Don’t you see that you already have the piece? You just need to restructure it.

Time permitting, clean up the notes immediately while the conversation is fresh. Keep notes in paragraph format and organize by topic. As I run through my notes I’m thinking: “this is a good quote for a press release, this is some good fluff for a community-oriented blog post, and I’ll leave these economic stats in bullet point format because that will work better for an article or pitch.”  Also, do you see how a five sentence pitch is actually an article introduction? Copy is copy! USE IT ALL!


5. Place your brain.

Honestly now we are at PR 101. If you are fully accessing the “brains” at your disposal, this part shouldn’t be hard at all. However, newbies may not know where to begin. That’s okay! We all start somewhere. For the most part, thought leaders should be placed in the following ways:

  • Bylined articles in newspapers, financial journals or industry publications/websites. The topic should be of interest to your audience—they are not advertisements for your credit union or products. The only “plug” you’re getting is their name, company and title being listed as the author of that piece. Ideally, a headshot would run alongside the article. If you aren’t sure where to begin, tie into the seasons, national days/holidays, and editorial calendars.
  • Quoted as a source in articles. Most likely the first few quotes stem from proactive pitches you’ve sent and then ideally a relationship is formed and you’re also being called to have your “brain” participate in articles. If you aren’t sure where to begin, tie into the seasons, national days/holidays, and editorial calendars.
  • Speaking engagements at industry, financial or community events. The more often you’re placing bylined articles and quotes from your “brain,” the more clout your expert has, thus the easier this should be. Send pitches and proposals on behalf of your expert to event organizers.

I know I have glossed over #5 here but there is a wealth of information on our blog and podcast, PR Talk. Arm yourself with knowledge before embarking on your first thought-leadership campaign!

What More? Here is the full version of the Thought Leadership for Credit Unions video:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

B2B PR with Rick Polito, Nutrition Business Journal Chief Editor [Podcast]

B2B PR with Rick Polito, Nutrition Business Journal Chief Editor [Podcast]

Leaving the Fast-Paced Newspaper World for the Political Waters of Trade Journalism

Veracity works with a lot of businesses that work with other businesses. This category — which does not speak directly to the consumer —  is called business-to-business or B2B for short. The strategy looks different when attempting to place businesses in front of other businesses instead of the everyday consumer.

Yet we haven’t interviewed many B2B press contacts on PR Talk, simply because of our geographic location. Many of them aren’t located in Portland and we find the energy created from interviewing our subjects in person to be optimal. But I decided to get over my fear of the phone and interview one of our long-distance friends, Rick Polito, Editor in Chief of Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ).

The NBJ is a monthly publication focusing exclusively on the nutrition industry and according to our media database, Cision, it covers the following topics: dietary supplements, herbs, health, pharmaceuticals, natural and organic foods, functional foods and natural personal care products. It’s created by the New Hope Network, which has additional content brands under its umbrella — such as the consumer-facing Delicious Living and Natural Foods Merchandiser — and also produces the following tradeshows: Natural Products Expo West, Natural Products Expo East, Engredea, NEXT and the NBJ Summit.

Before leaping over to the B2B side, Rick spent 21 years as a reporter, columnist and features writer at traditional media outlets like the Arizona Daily Star and California’s Pacific Sun. That’s why he’s the perfect interviewee to talk about the differences between B2B and consumer media work.

Piquing Interest in Stories

Even though he’s been working his way up the editorial chain at the NBJ after enduring a stint as a stay-at-home-dad before joining the publication, Rick distinguishes himself as a “reporter, not an editor.” In all the years I have worked with editors I have never heard one make this distinction before. This mindset allows him to bring a newspaper approach to the NBJ, which he classifies as “confrontational with some edge,” leading him into his first PR tip. “It’s not a good story if you’re not interested in it.” Familiar advice that can be found in both consumer and B2B circles.

An example of how you can “get excited and find different ways of telling the story,” is a recent road trip he took on his way to Expo East in which he stopped to tour different farms along the way for an in-depth article uncovering the upcoming farm bill called The Road to Natural: Back to the Farm, which ran in September’s issue of the NBJ. He embarked on “1,800 miles of driving and 10,000 words of writing in four days.”

Embracing the Dark Side

There are many politics at play in small niche B2B industries and just being a member of the press doesn’t mean you don’t have to play by the rules. Yet Rick “takes off his cheerleader outfit” from time to time in his role at the NBJ, operating like the old-school newspaper journalist he once was.

He took a major risk by launching the “Dark Issue” on behalf of the NBJ. The Dark Issue uncovers what’s been going wrong in the nutritional and supplemental industries. While this does not sound like the kind of placement a PR person wants to land for their client, Rick says that it’s a conversation that must be had and it’s better to have it within industry channels rather than across the front pages of the New York Times again. He reminds us that one major mistake can affect everyone’s reputation across the industry.

Rick was very wary of alienating the close-knit community when launching the Dark Side issue but he still gets pats on the back. All but two naysayers recognize that the Dark Side is helping the industry, rather than hurting it.

Stepping Away from Industry Politics

A major difference between the NBJ and other trade journals is they don’t take advertisements, offering freedom from keeping advertisers happy. If you actually believe there is a solid line between advertising and editorial — think again. While some publications might respect the difference between church and state better than others, many, especially in the B2B industry, do not. Rick points out that you’ll have a tough time finding a negative story about large advertisers like grocery store chains or car dealers in newspapers.

The NBJ makes its income off of a steep subscription price that provides issues chalk-full of data that can help subscribers map out their company’s next steps. According to Rick the data uncovers “who is selling what and where they are selling it.”

Getting Coverage in the NBJ

While we do need to actually think before contacting the NBJ, Rick assures me that they want to hear from PR people! Here are the top four ways you can make a connection with the publication without having to drive 1,800 miles and walk the farmland.

  1. Provide Sources—They are always looking for experts and are in need of “sources just as much as ideas.” Examine the experts you have at your disposal and provide the NBJ with a roster detailing backgrounds and proposed subject matter. While the NBJ wants to hear about today’s ideas, they also want to know who they can access in the future.
  1. Tradeshow Meetings—A good place to catch Rick is at one of the many nutrition trade shows. Attempt to get on his calendar three weeks before the show. If you have a source to put in front of him, even better. He rattled off some of the shows he attends:
  1. Editorial Calendar—Time and theme pitches according to their editorial calendar, which is currently being compiled for 2018. Upcoming issues include: sports nutrition, a first-time millennial issue, and B2B supply chain trust. What could your company bring to the table in relation to topics listed in the NBJ calendar?
  1. Respectfully Nudge — Rick mentioned a few times that we shouldn’t be afraid to nudge him, saying they work about six weeks ahead, so if you send your information too early you’ll need to nudge him again around the six-week mark. Nudging him wouldn’t be spammy if you truly have a fit.

The best contacts for PR people at the NBJ are Rick himself and senior editor, Bill Giebler.

Differences Between Consumer and B2B Press

Rick admits to facing a much higher learning curve when jumping over to the B2B side. The “longer view” approach to B2B reporting — which tends to focus more on commentary, bypassing the daily grind — was unique to Rick. He’s also been surprised by the politics that the small industry community brings to the work.

When asked what PR should know about the differences between working with each type of medium, Rick says that promoting our staff expertise matters more to him now. “We want to get more voices into the stories. It’s sometimes harder to find the expert than the ideas,” he says. Homework is key in the B2B arena too. Just like in the consumer arena, researching before pitching is imperative.

And finally Rick leaves us with a good old-fashioned piece of advice that you’ll understand if you’ve been around for awhile:

“Flattery gets you everywhere with a reporter.”


About the guest: Rick Polito

As Nutrition Business Journal‘s editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

Connect and follow Rick on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by dapulse

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. dapulse is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing dapulse for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Ed Cals: Turning Uncertain PR Coverage into a Sure Thing

Ed Cals: Turning Uncertain PR Coverage into a Sure Thing

#ChalkTalk Podcast

Rather listen to our podcast on Ed Cals?

With 2017 right around the corner, there couldn’t be a better time to address editorial calendars. Not the kind that map out what an organization will cover within its own blog and social media. Rather, the old school “Ed Cals” as we like to call them, which were most likely the first type of editorial calendar ever created.

The majority of magazines, trade journals, larger newspapers and many websites utilize editorial calendars to plan the topics they’ll cover within the year. They represent a window into future news, thus offering PR pros a hint into how they can garner coverage. With careful planning and the right pitch, some might consider future PR coverage a sure thing when armed with abundant editorial calendars.

Let’s examine what Ed Cals are, how to get your hands on them and how to make them work for you.

What are Ed Cals? 

Pearl Magazine Editorial CalendarEditorial calendars are a roadmap of stories that help keep the editorial teams organized. But their main function is to help the advertising department sell ads. Pairing advertisements with related editorial content creates a more seamless sales pitch. For example, if a restaurant is told that all of their competitors will be advertising within the Top Restaurants special section, it’s harder to say no. Of course that restaurant will pine after appearing next to their competitors with their own ad.

Where can you find Ed Cals?

Since editorial calendars are so strongly utilized by advertising departments, they are typically found in each outlet’s online advertising page. Within the advertising page, the Ed Cals are often hidden within the outlet’s Media Kit — an extensive document detailing everything you could possibly ever want to know about a certain outlet, including circulation numbers, demographic information and hopefully its editorial calendar. The Media Kit’s main purpose is to drum up advertising customers.

You don’t want to buy an ad?!?

I don’t blame you with access to this golden nugget! Everyone gets that PR pros don’t want to buy an ad, but media outlets make it hard on us by hiding one of our most valuable resources in their advertising collateral. If you can’t find the Ed Cal online, simply ask the advertising contact for it. While this shouldn’t come with strings attached, prepare yourself for an advertising pitch. There’s no harm in listening, just don’t take up too much of their time. You never know what future help this advertising contact may extend, but don’t make any promises you can’t keep. You’re free to hint that you’re sorting out your budget or that you’ll pass along their info to your advertising manager.

How do you organize the Ed Cals?

Upon culling through each Ed Cal and flagging the appropriate topics, take steps to organize the mountain of information that could result. I am in love with Excel, so I input all of the opportunities into a sheet for each client. Other groups may want to use collaborative tools such as Sharepoint, Google Calendar/Sheets, or Trello.

For Veracity’s purposes, all the information about each opportunity would go into Excel, including the following:

  • Media Outlet
  • Coverage Topic & Details
  • Deadline (you’ll have to pad the advertising deadline appropriately for editorial, we’ll get into this below)
  • Issue Date (when the topic you’re pitching will run)
  • Contact Name & Info (If this isn’t in the Ed Cal, leave this part blank and come back to it upon commencing more research)
  • Status Report (what’s happening with each pitch, we’ll get into this below)

When do you send Ed Cal inquiries?

Sorry, your work is far from over yet. The most important part — inputting your pitch deadlines into your personal work calendar — still needs to happen. Along with inputting the deadlines into Excel, we set reminders through Google Calendar. Use whatever tool you wish for this, just don’t miss the deadline! If you are a procrastinator like me, give yourself plenty of lead time, but don’t make your deadlines so irrelevant that you ignore them completely (not proud to say that I am speaking from experience here).

While the tried and true PR professional will get to know their press targets, here is a rough outline of when to send pitches. Some trial and error will help you refine this timeline to match your press friends’ exact needs.

  • National monthly magazines, like Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living: Pitch 6 – 5 months ahead.
  • Trades & Verticals: Pitch 3 – 2 months ahead.
  • Regional monthly magazines, like Portland Monthly: Pitch 3 – 2 months ahead.
  • Weeklies: Pitch 6 – 3 weeks ahead for a special section.
  • “Short lead” publications, like daily newspapers: Pitch 6 – 3 weeks ahead (even though it’s a daily, you’re erring on the side of caution for a special section).

What do you pitch? 

If you’ve been working in the same industry for a time, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. You can also gauge what you need to pitch by reading all the info about the topic listed in the Ed Cal. But here are 3 types of pitches to send with Ed Cal inquiries:

  • Offer up insight: For our methylsulfonylmethane manufacturer, Bergstrom Nutrition, we simply send a pitch asking if the press would like any insight from the company’s executives on a particular article that might fit. We then include any compelling information, like a new study or science that might align with the topic to pique their interest.
  • Offer to write the article: We might ask if they’d like an article written by our client that matches the topic. We then include any qualifying information as to why our source would be considered an expert on that particular topic, along with links to past writing samples if possible. This is mainly for trades and verticals.
  • Send a press release or blog post: If you happen to have a press release or blog post ready on the topic, you might as well send that along with a pitch mentioning that some or all of the information could be used in the article they’re planning. Drop a hint that you might create something special just for them.

After the pitch?

Be sure to record everything you’ve done (emails sent, messages left) and all of the communications back from press in your “status” section of the Excel. This includes any insight that might help your future pitches. No’s are just future yes’s in disguise if you pay attention to any reasoning or redirection from the press.

If we haven’t heard back from a contact, we’ll typically follow up just one more time depending on how hard up we are for news. If we’ve been getting a lot of news lately around this particular topic we may give it a rest. However, if our research is telling us that our news should most definitely be included, we’ll dig a little deeper, either by confirming that we’ve got the right contact or readjusting our pitch, if necessary.

The 2017 editorial calendars should be out already, so get a jump on your yearly planning while everyone else is busy with the holidays. Ed Cals can serve as a starting point from which the rest of your content plan emerges. Not only will you have some timely, newsworthy topics deemed valuable by the press, you could possibly reach beyond your current audience if the press picks up any of your materials. Remember that anything you send to the press can be converted into a different type of content. Media pitches can be transformed into social posts, press releases can be revised into blog posts and white papers can be converted into op-eds. So what are you waiting for?