Step into the fast-paced world of ‘Real Marketing Real Fast’ with me, Doug Morneau. Each episode is a power-packed journey through the twists and turns of digital marketing and website acquisition. Expect unfiltered insights, expert interviews, and a healthy dose of sarcasm. This isn’t just another marketing podcast; it’s your front-row seat to the strategies shaping the digital landscape.


Tips on how to get your articles published with Michelle Garrett

  • If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.
  • To pitch publishers start with verticals because I think that is such an opportunity because there are a lot of them. They need to fill those pages.
  • I think PR is more important than ever, because in this day and age of scandals and missteps that can go viral in a matter of minutes.
  • Do you have a crisis communications plan in place?

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: Well welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today we’re going to talk about all things PR. Public relations, getting earned media, crisis management, what to do when something goes wrong, how to get out and get ahead of that. And to help us understand that today I have my guest in studio is Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations. She is a PR consultant and writer. You’ll find that Michelle works at the intersection of PR content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and freelance writer Michelle’s articles and advice have appeared in a wide variety of publications including entrepreneur Forbes, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, CIO, Freelancers Union, ThomasNet and Fairygodboss among others.

Doug: Michelle was named one of the top 13 content marketers influencers to follow and the top 50 content marketer world influence. Her blog was named one of the top 25 must-read public relations blogs by Muck Rack. I connected with Michelle on social media. I’ve been following her for quite a while. Been very impressed with the content and reached out to invite her to the show. So I’d like you to join me in welcoming Michelle Garrett to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. Well, Hey, welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today Michelle. Super excited to have you on the show.

Michelle G: Thank you so much for having me, Doug. I’m excited to be here.

Doug: This is just another example. If you read my email that I sent out to you on Tuesday, I talked about being social in social media and the importance of being on a platform and actually talking to people opposed to this blasting your message. I connected with Michelle. I started following her on Twitter. And from there, I went to her website, and I just really loved the content she was sharing. So I sent her a note on Twitter, a DM saying, “Hey, would you be interested in be being on the Real Marketing podcast?” And she said, “Yep.” Here we are. It just proves that social media is not dead. The social media still works if you work it.

Doug: I’m happy to have this conversation. But today we’re going to talk about you and your superpower and helping your clients. Do you want to give us a bit of background Michelle, and kind of what you do and how you help people?

Michelle G: Sure. Well, I have been at this a while. I believe strongly in the power of public relations. I guess more recently, I think, social media and content marketing, and all of that has come into the picture. And really, a lot of those things are what PR pros have been doing for years now. So I really work with clients on various projects, but they always involve a component of getting the word out there, increasing visibility. Then we talk about what are the best ways to do that because there are so many ways to do it these days. It can be very overwhelming if you don’t really have somebody to kind of guide you through that.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: Happy to dive into PR as we carry on the conversation, but it’s just interesting because of the work that you do on creating content and social media. When you pitch a reporter and a reporter comes to your client’s website, what are they going to look for? Because I’m assuming they can look at all their social media channels and look at their website. Why don’t you share from to our audience kind of how that works.

Michelle G: When we pitch a reporter what happens?

Doug: Yeah, what happens? I mean because you’re helping your clients create content and social as well which I haven’t seen people in the PR space doing before. You must feel there’s obviously value there for the client to help them move the dial and get the attention and the coverage that they want to get.

Michelle G: Well, I think whenever you pitch a reporter, it’s always good to take a look at your public face before you even put the pitch out there. Many times with the clients, we will even have to kind of hold off on pitching proactively until they get their website updated. They post something on social media so they haven’t posted in a while. They have to have something there because the first thing that reporter is going to do is start digging around and looking to see what’s out there.

Michelle G: What they can learn beyond just getting an email from you and just taking for granted everything that’s in it. That’s the nature of reporting. They’re going to start investigating and looking around. If you’re not ready for that, then you should be probably not proactively contacting reporters until you kind of get your ducks in a row.

Doug: I guess in that case, you’re spreading the bad news.

Michelle G: That’s exactly right. It happens way too often. Even here locally I see a company in the newspaper or something and I’ll immediately go look at them on social media. Sometimes they either don’t have an account or they haven’t posted in three years. You’re just like, “Whew, that’s a poor showing.” They probably didn’t think through it.

Doug: Yeah, no, I’ve seen the same thing. It’s always interesting. I shared with you off the air. Even a lot of the guests that I’ve had on the show when I go, “I follow all my guests in social so when I have a deeper connection with them.” It’s always surprising how there’s a platform that they at some point were engaged in and they’ve just stopped posting. So it hasn’t been anything on that platform for years.

Michelle G: There’s a discussion about whether it’s better to keep that even open or if you should just shut it down. Because maybe not having one at all is better than having one that hasn’t been used in a very long time.

Doug: Yep. The other thing I’ve seen people do, though, you’ll go to, for example, it might be their Twitter account. And I might say, “I’m not posting here anymore. This is my favorite platform.” So at least there’s a redirect. So you’re kind of protecting your brand, your name. But you’ve pushed somebody to or redirected them to where you’re active.

Michelle G: I think that’s very wise. I really liked that suggestion.

Doug: So the idea of PR always sounds good. The choices in running the business in terms of making sure that you’ve got a professional image and you’re treating your clients well. So they speak well of you and you get referrals. Then you get testimonials. When you’re thinking of PR I guess a lot of companies or a lot of individuals I’ve talked to say, “I can’t do that.” Nobody will write about me. My story’s not that interesting. How do you work with your clients to help them overcome some of those thoughts that they have to be a big brand? Do they need to be Elon Musk to get any ink?

Michelle G: That’s funny. There are both ends of the spectrum. Just to give you a little quick little story. I’m from Ohio. That’s where I’m at now, but I lived in the Bay Area for about seven years. No one out there, no client, no company I ever went and talked to was ever saying, “Oh, please just get us in the local newspaper if you can.” They were never thinking that way. They were always like can you get us in the Wall Street Journal? Get us in TechCrunch. It’s so interesting because you move back-

Doug: That’s funny.

Michelle G: … yeah. You move back to the Midwest. Then it’s like people are very like, I don’t know if they’re just shy. They don’t want to toot their own horn. You kind of have to help them think bigger. Even if it’s vertical publications. Maybe not the Wall Street Journal right out of the gate, which you know that’s pretty high.

Doug: You can’t do that. If I hire you today, I can’t be in the journal for next week. [crosstalk 00:06:55] Oh, man.

Michelle G: But seriously the Midwestern clients and I do… I work with clients all over the country and really all over the world. But the clients in the Midwest for some reason, tend to be like a little bit more like, just I don’t know. They don’t think as big. Yes, there is some like convincing or education there. If they say, “Well, we do want to be in a local media.” Then I usually say “Well, what else would be helpful to you? Would it be helpful to be in an industry journal or a vertical publication?” They’re always looking for stories and contributed articles and products and all kinds of things to fill those digital pages as well as some of them still have print publications. Sometimes you can get them both with one pitch. There is some education. Some kind of coaxing, encouragement that goes on.

Doug: What if there was anything you mentioned the local paper. I’ve heard that side as well. I want to be in X paper. Would you say that if you’re looking at a strategy and you have not got any PR, any coverage to date? Or maybe it’s just a little bit that’s how you would ramp up your PR. You would kind of start local and then you might go to national and then go to some of the bigger brands as you start to build up kind of a portfolio, if you will, of people that have written about you.

Michelle G: I think that’s, that’s potentially a good way to start. I mean, for some, you can start with the verticals, because I think that is such an opportunity because there are a lot of them. They have a very small staff. They’re laying off people. They need to fill those pages. I focus on that a lot. Because with a peer at least, with local media, it’s limited. So it’s not only limited for the client, it’s limited for me as far as what I can help them with. So I always try to kind of get them to yes will do that. And yes, it’s a good place to start.

Michelle G: But let’s think a little bit beyond that. And think about once you get a contributed article placed how many ways you can plug that into your marketing. Put it on your website, share it on social. Maybe the sales team can share with prospects. Things like that. So I think once they start thinking like that about it, they’re more likely to start embracing that a little bit more.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: So what do you mean by vertical?

Michelle G: So vertical industry. I work with a lot of tech clients for example. And that obviously tech touches every company now, right? But so say we work with a software company, and they play into the manufacturing vertical. They play into maybe printing and publishing verticals. They play into the automotive vertical. They’ll be a handful of verticals that they want to focus on to get more customers, get more prospects, get the word out. And so within those industries, those vertical industries, then they have publications and blogs and sometimes even radio, TV shows, podcasts that you can pitch and get them some more visibility for what they’re doing. That’s really where their audience is if they want buyers in those industries.

Doug: Okay. Yep, that makes sense. I would think the trade publications probably don’t get as much… I’m just guessing. I mean, correct me from wrong, as many pitches as the journal will get.

Michelle G: Oh, yeah, no. I’m sure that they do get their fair share. But I think it’s much easier. I know reporters don’t really like you to call them on the phone anymore. But you can even easily pick up a phone and maybe even talk to somebody at a vertical trade publication as opposed to the Wall Street Journal. They are actually going to maybe take your call and you can kind of introduce yourself. Even if you’re doing your own PR. Say a small company that doesn’t have a PR resource to help them. They can probably start to establish a relationship.

Michelle G: Maybe they’re at a trade show for that person. That editor of that particular publication is also so they could set up a 20-minute meeting. Come by the booth we’ll tell you what we’re doing. What we have coming up, how does that fit into what you have coming up that kind of thing?

Doug: How much do you think in today’s world, everything being at your fingertips and you shared with me that you checked Twitter first thing in the morning?

Michelle G: Yes.

Doug: How much do you think is listening versus pitching these days?

Michelle G: Back to the conversation that you and I had prior to this about some PR pros not being on Twitter or not being active on Twitter. I mean, to me, that’s where the reporters are hanging out, right? So if you’re interested in connecting with a particular reporter or publication, you should definitely be following them. You should be listening to them on social media. You should be reading what they’re putting out there. It’s listening is so important because it helps you make a better-informed pitch when you do approach them. And maybe you don’t approach them day one.

Michelle G: Maybe you follow what they’re sharing then you like and share what they’re sharing and you comment on what they’re sharing. Pretty soon they’re going to start to recognize you and then when you actually do need or want to pitch them, it may stand out a little bit more in their crowded inbox of pitches.

Doug: No, that sounds like I have to build a relationship. I just can’t go pitch people. It’s like, “Hey, you don’t know me, but I want you to write a four-page article on me.”

Michelle G: Yeah. They actually think that it works that way and that they’re special enough perhaps to, for lack of a better word, that to work. It just usually doesn’t. I mean, if you are Amazon you can get somebody to write about you. But most of us most of the smaller companies that are struggling for attention, you really can’t have an ego about this stuff. The reporters doing you a favor in essence. I mean, it’s earned media, but I mean, this is something I had a conversation with a colleague about the other day.

Michelle G: It’s like sometimes you contact a company or reporters trying to get a source to respond. And they lose the opportunity because the source doesn’t respond and the reporter moves on to the next person. I’m like, “They’re giving you free publicity. Do you not understand the importance of this? Take five minutes and respond to this email or respond to this direct message or whatever it is.” I mean, don’t just slough it off and say, “Oh, I’ll get around to it next week.” That’s not how it works.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: It’s just time-sensitive. I think the best PR I ever got was I contacted a reporter that was writing a whole series on new businesses. And I said, “I’ve done a lot of work in this sector over the years. So I have a filing cabinet full of kind of proprietary information we’ve gathered. If you ever need access to that, you’re welcome to come to my office and dig in.” It’s a home-based office, but I didn’t tell him that. And he said, “Well, why don’t I just interview you?”

Michelle G: Yeah.

Doug: I mean, that wasn’t much of a pitch. But I had followed him for a while. So I knew which topics he was writing about. I could see how I could fit into what he was doing. I thought, “Well, I’ll offer this stuff I’ve got first.” That was just a very easy conversation to have.

Michelle G: Well, that’s the thing. When it fits, when it’s right it works. It’s easy. It’s not forced since doesn’t feel. It’s almost like selling something. I’ve heard people like and what PR people do to sales and in a way it is. Because you’re selling your client, your brand, your product whatever it is, you know you’re selling that. You’re trying to get them to buy, but it doesn’t have to feel so smarmy. So sale. If you come from a place of really trying to genuinely help them do their job.

Michelle G: Which is in a perfect world that’s how it should work. Then that is a good relationship. A positive for journalists and you don’t have to… PR people shouldn’t feel afraid or worried about approaching reporters if that’s the spirit in which they’re doing it.

Doug: Well and it’s also professional and respectful. I also shared with you earlier that I had a really bad pitch from somebody who didn’t match. The other side of listening is making sure that what you’re doing or what you want to pitch is in alignment with the publication or the media of what you’re trying to contact. You’re not wasting their time. You’re not looking. You’re not looking foolish by sending them something that’s totally outside their wheelhouse.

Michelle G: That’s right. That does look foolish. It really turns journalists off to all PR pitches then because they get so many bad ones that are totally off-topic. That’s one of the most common things you’ll see him complain about if you are on Twitter.

Doug: Well, I love the Twitter feed because there’s tons of so much content that comes through. I tell people most of what I picked I actually by Reese share on Twitter. If it’s not my own content or my podcast guests is really stuff that I’m reading. If you want to know what I reading my day, all you have to do is look through my Twitter feed and that’s the stuff that I read.

Michelle G: That’s exactly right. That’s absolutely right. it’s always good to read it before you share it because I see a lot of articles that are either just not really there. The headline says one thing but the article is not reflected in what the headline says or they’re full of typos. I really won’t care if it’s poorly written. If there’s a little something that Forbes, for example, I use that as an example all the time. Because they now have this stable of writers. But they don’t have any editors. A lot of the things that end up on there, unfortunately, are full of errors and I don’t know who’s minding the store there.

Doug: One I’ve got caught as well by sharing something and not doing the research to make sure that it’s a valid source. It’s so easy to hit the share like button, then they go, “Oh, that wasn’t good.”

Michelle G: Yeah. Or you look at it, and it’s from 2010. Or you’re like, “Oh, okay. Whoops.”

Doug: Especially in this political time, which I’m sure we’re not going to talk about?

Michelle G: No.

Doug: In terms of these new followers on Twitter, “Hey, I am so and so.” And I look at their profile and I look at their posts and I’m thinking, “Okay, so I can see which side of the ledger you’re on right or left.” I really don’t need to have this conversation. I’ll just go next.

Michelle G: Yeah. No, you see unfortunately, we will not go into the weeds. But a lot of what’s going on affects journalists and journalism and fake news and it does all affect PR pros. We do have to follow it and be tuned in from that perspective. I am very reluctant to say a lot about it but on the other hand, I really feel like I will maybe want need to say something about some of the things. Just because of a lot of my… I have journalists that are I’ve known for years. They’re friends. I went to journalism school. It’s just to me, I feel it in my heart that it’s just something I… it’s hard for me to stay quiet sometimes.

Doug: Yep, no, I’ve just decided that that’s really not a place to be. If I can affect change, there’s no sense just adding to the noise. I use a tool called Fiddler to RSS feed to gather all the content that I read and that I want to share on Twitter. Kind of my one of my rule of thumb is if it’s not building somebody up, I’m just not going to share it. I’m just not interested in posting stuff that’s tearing people down or taking constantly a negative view. The world is full of that. I just don’t want to be a contributor and amplify that.

Michelle G: Yes. For me, that’s one thing I hear criticism of Twitter’s that it’s a really negative place. Not for me. It’s my feed, my Twitter folks.

Doug: Yeah. Absolutely.

Michelle G: It’s a very positive place. I get so much good at it. I learned so many things. And yes, I understand what you’re saying.

Doug: In terms of PR where it is today and where it was, what changes have you seen in the last three, four or five years?

Michelle G: I think there’s a lot of discussion about… First of all, I think it’s more important than ever, because in this day and age of scandals and missteps that can go viral in a matter of minutes. I just saw an article that consumers expect brands to respond to a crisis within 30 minutes at some do and then there was a bigger percentage of expected brands to respond within an hour. You need somebody who knows how to formulate a message very quickly. Something that’s not going to get you in legal trouble or something that’s going to kind of not sounds like you’re not apologetic or not taking responsibility. There’s a fine line there.

Michelle G: You really need a good PR person on your team and be probably a good legal person. That is at the ready. You need a crisis plan and you need a very like a small core team of people who are going to be on it immediately. So that it doesn’t blow up and you just are not engaged and you lose control of it.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: Yes, so you get out in front of it. That’s interesting because I was at an event talking about the media crisis. They had a number of really very large brands. I was really surprised at how just upfront people were. Like the media relations people for each of these brands saying how they deal with a crisis or something that happens and ends up in social. A few of them just were very frank and said, “Hey, we go look at people’s influence to see how much that’s going to affect us.” Then we kind of triage them on how to deal with them. If somebody’s got a lot of influence online, we need to deal with that before we deal with some person who complains about everything and really has no influence.

Michelle G: Oh, well, that’s kind of interesting.

Doug: Yeah, I mean it was one of our big ski mountains up there was Whistler Blackcomb, and there had been an accident up there. They’re saying, “In that case, you deal with it.” But one of the other brands was a consumer brand saying that lots of times you’ll get negative pushback and feedback online. It’s really just about assessing the threat. In terms of dealing with that, I mean, what other things he brought up is kind of interesting is because clients will talk about, “Well, what do I do if I got bad PR or I have a bad thing happened? What should I do or somebody gives me a bad rating on one of these sites.”

Doug: Whatever the site might be. It’s like, “That’s where you really did dig the Well before you need the water.” By having some good third party credibility. That’ll help your SEO. That will help your business if something should go wrong or somebody should complain loudly and have a large audience. Or there should be a crisis, at least there some backstory.

Michelle G: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s such an important point. Because, again, my PR colleagues and I have this conversation sometimes about how clients or brands will wait until they’re in trouble to start trying to build a reputation. That’s the wrong time to do it. That’s another reason why PR is more important than ever because you need that reputation if and when you do find yourself in a time of crisis.

Doug: Yeah. I mean, I had a friend of mine I’ve done business with who’s not on social media. Refused to be on social media. One of the companies he was working with got some really bad PR by a government agency. You’ve got to  get deep SEO links and he goes, “Well, how can I get rid of that?” I said, “It’s not going to happen. It’s too late. The time to do that would have been a few years ago. To build up a backstory and have some links. Now you’re exposed in terms of online is not going to go away.

Michelle G: That’s sad. Isn’t it? I mean, it’s like, people need to get it. The other thing that’s funny to me is that I have been in meetings with CEOs before. You say you’re talking about PR in general. Getting the word out, building the reputation. And you’ll ask, do you have a crisis communications plan in place? They will look at you like you have a third eye or something. They just have no… why would they need that? It just amazes me. Anything can go wrong, and depending on what kind of industry you’re in. But I mean, it’s just, to me, it’s very naive not to be expecting almost a crisis to occur at some point be big or small. I mean, there could be anything that could come up and if you’re not ready, haven’t even thought about it. Don’t have something in place. You’re going to be scrambling and it may be very detrimental.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: Sometimes this may be a competitor in the email space. For example, if you have portal livability because you’ve got bad email addresses that affects your service provider. And there’s a really large brand predominantly in New York that’s a retailer. One of the competitors was filling their email list by subscribing to a box with bad addresses. Their email service provider shut them down in November. Right before Christmas. There was an example of someone who didn’t have a crisis plan, didn’t have the tools in place. Then you’re scrambling your busiest time of year to try to kind of recover and figure out how to deal with that.

Michelle G: Yeah, that’s really scary to me. So I would be scared if I wasn’t a business owner and didn’t have something in place. I don’t know how to get that word out there, but-

Doug: That’s what we’re doing today. In Vancouver, one of the organizations does a really good job of that is the Vancouver Port Authority. We haven’t had a major crisis in the port. But it’s interesting because they’re always advertising. One of our sales guys was in talking to them said, “Why are you guys doing this?” They’re saying this is how we stay in the public face in case there’s an accident in the port. That’s they’re super proactive… till you see them supporting local stuff, you see them updates and local messages thinking as a consumer, I’m not going to buy anything from the port corporation. That is not going to happen. I’m not a shipping company, but they’re always there in advance to be showing off their good brand and what they’re doing in case there is a crisis.

Michelle G: Yeah, that’s so smart. That’s very wise. There are a lot of things you can do that would help you to do that. It’s a really good idea to have a plan to build and maintain your reputation. Then also to have the crisis plan in place in case you need it. And one thing that I have become more aware of lately is just the fact that a lot of times PR and legal are at odds because as soon as a company publicly says something, it can be used against them in a legal sense. I feel that a lot of times legal and PR have had kind of a combative relationship. But I’ve actually written about this now because I interviewed a lawyer who works with PR teams, and there are ways that you can work together.

Michelle G: Because legal is like, “Whoa, we got to slow down, we can say that.” And PR is like, “Well, we’ve got to get it out there because we’re going to get left behind in the dust if we don’t say.’ But there are like ways you can work together and come up with something. That’s better to do ahead of time, versus or at least have that chain of people that are immediately going to connect if something happens.

Doug: When you’re working with a client is developing a crisis plan part of the work that you do in addition to the crisis plan is just in case of insurance. Then the traditional PR is getting me more exposure. So is that part of your regular flow of work?

Michelle G: I do. We do talk about it. I think a lot of times they’re just not focused on it. It’s a challenge to get them to embrace that part of it. It doesn’t always happen. But I do bring it up. I do invite them to think about it and leave me some, let me help them, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Doug: So you want to walk us through the process of what it’s like to work with someone like yourself. For our listeners that are saying, “Okay. My company’s growing to the point where I need to or I would like to expand and grow or I published a book and I’d like to get some PR. I’d like to get the word out.” What does that look like?

Michelle G: Normally we’ll look at it together and talk about what their goals are, that’s very important. Who their competitors are? Where their audiences? All those things are very important. Then usually I will come back and maybe make some recommendations and perhaps put together a proposal or plan to get them to… so that we can talk about it and say yes. This seems like we are on the right track. And then we just we pick out strategies and tactics and things that will get them where they want to go. A lot of the clients that I work with are smaller. They’ve probably talked to a PR agency and nothing. It’s a PR agency, some of them are very good. They want to charge them $10,000 a month. Even $5000 a month sometimes is a lot for small businesses. I think a lot of times we prioritize.

Michelle G: You might want to do all of these things, but right now, we’re going to do two or three of these elements of the plan. Then we’ll see how that goes. If we get that kind of rolling, then we can add some things to it. That they’re not overwhelmed that it’s still cost-effective and they get comfortable with the process. They kind of see some results, some ROI and then they feel like, “Okay, now, we can add and go on and do more.”

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: And so in terms of timing, I’m not trying to pin you down to rolling out your plan. But in terms of timing, I mean, lots of times I have clients come to me, and they’ll want to run a marketing campaign. They have a super short term vision. So what they need is they need a huge amount of sales in the next week. I try to explain to them that’s not going to happen. That’s not realistic. They’ll go away and they’ll try to find somebody else who will say yes to that. Which is fine. I’m saddened to hear that normally they lose their money and it doesn’t work. Then we have another discussion when they come back. So in terms of being realistic for the business, what should people expect in terms of timing? How long should they plan to work with someone like yourself to get results and build their company?

Michelle G: I really feel like and again I know agencies will require a place to lock into a year or whatever. I don’t do that. But I do think that you need to hang in there for at least three to six months with something if you’re going to try it. I don’t think a month is enough to see results. A lot of times, the work that a PR person would do would be held up by on the client-side because they don’t have to you with this removals or-

Doug: They don’t update their website. They don’t update their social like you’ve told them.

Michelle G: Yeah. That slows it down. So then you can’t hold that against the person trying to do the work if you’re dragging your feet a little bit. Because I see that as a huge issue right now for me it’s just the engagement level. So they’ll say, “Yeah, we really want to work with you.” We will have three or four conversations, and we’ll go back and forth and will agree and sign the paperwork. Then it’s like, “Okay, now we need to get started.”

Then a lot of them will say, “How much time do you need from us to really do the job or do the work?” And I’m like, “Well, I certainly am self-directed and I don’t need a lot of your time, but I will need you to engage with me if I need to interview somebody. Or you know if I have some questions. Even getting them to respond is just incredibly difficult sometimes. I’m like, “Well if you’re not going to make this a priority, you probably shouldn’t even be talking about it.” That’s a little frustrating sometimes.

Doug: Yeah, no, that makes sense. And it’s not what you’ve shared really is a common response from most of the professionals that I’ve had on my show. Whether it’s SEO, or whether it’s content writing or blogging. It’s a similar conversation that you need to just invest some time in this. I know some of the guests have had to say, “We won’t work with someone who doesn’t have like a six-month vision.” We’re not going to lock them into a contract for six months. But we tell them up front that if you’re really looking to build your business, these are the things you’re going to need to do to get the traction. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re not going to follow Michelle today and say, “Hey, can you give me an Oprah show next week. I’m going to be in Chicago and wonder if you can get me an interview. That’d be great. Or Good Morning America [crosstalk 00:30:45].

Michelle G: Isn’t that funny? Because there are people that think that’s how it works. And I’m like, “well.” The other thing is, I don’t think that media relations is the only piece that matters. I think that’s what a lot of PR pros are trying to get out of that pigeonhole of “Oh, we only do Media Relations.” Because honestly, media relations is tougher than ever. Now that you have self-publishing, and you can publish content on your site. You can publish content on Medium or LinkedIn or you can do your own podcast. There are all these ways to get the word out that you don’t even need the reporters. You don’t need the media for that necessarily.

Michelle G: I just feel like they need to think beyond the media relations and if they are going to be interested in media relations it is a little bit it takes some time. You can’t just say, “Well, they didn’t get any results in this first month. So we know they’re no good.” Then they never try PR again or they try contacting reporters one time on their own and they get no response. It’s all PR doesn’t work. Well, that’s a very simplistic view.

Doug: Yeah it is. I heard Gary Vee interject on a rant about that once he said, “Yes. Some guy told me Facebook doesn’t work.” He says no, Facebook works just didn’t work for you or didn’t work for you at that time. It works.” So in terms of the change the shift in media, it’s interesting because like you mentioned Forbes having writers but not editors. I’m starting to see pushback in the industry. In Canada, I saw something it was kind of interesting in that the media have gotten together and put together a website and the campaign and they’re lobbying the government because what’s the best way to say this?

Doug: They feel that it’s unfair, that they’re losing their jobs because people are self-publishing. And the government should protect their industry as writers. So I’m going to be real politically incorrect. And I think that’s kind of ridiculous, but industries change every day. So but with that being a reality of less staff, how has that affected what you do for your clients.

Michelle G: It’s interesting because they have less staff, they get more pitches. So you’re less likely to get attention. It didn’t use to be… now you could send out a pitch say 20 reporters and you hear back from one or two maybe, or you might not hear anything back. I mean, it happens. That would not only be due to the concept or the actual way the pitches are written, but it would also be due to the fact that they probably never even saw it because their inbox is so full. They’re understaffed, they’re overworked. They’re inundated with pitches. Then I say turning to the vertical industries is so much more effective. You still have the same scenario. Yes. They’re understaffed? Yes. They’re overworked? Yes, their mailbox might be full. But it’s not the same as our classic example in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times or USA Today, or pick one. Yeah.

Doug: So are they looking for anything? Do you think they’re looking for a better pitch these days and someone that helps to kind of take the load off so they don’t have to do all the heavy lifting?

Michelle G: I think it’s great if you can include numbers, data, research. They love that. They seem to really respond well to that. It should be not just, I gave this example the other day, I was talking to somebody about research, original research. Which is great for PR by the way. But I worked with a client who had interviewed five like CEOs and then published the research like 75% of those we survey they didn’t explain their methodology. You can’t do that and get by with it with a reputable reporter. They’re going to look under the hood. They’re going to say, “Whoops. Who did you survey? Did you survey 5000 people? Did you survey five people? I was really kind of scary. Like, “No, we can’t.”

Doug: I asked my mom=

Michelle G: 100% of those we surveyed. Reporters know that though. Reporters are very usually very smart. A lot of them do a lot of homework. I would say you have to be prepared again before you even pitch you need to have certain things ready backup. Even if they say that yes to your pitch or they say yes, we’d like more information. You should have that ready to go have your customer references ready. If they want a sample of a product or they want some imagery or they want whatever it is, you need to have that already done so that they’re not waiting three weeks for you to get back to them. That’s another thing because sometimes clients will come to me and they’re very… it’s a new company startup small business.

Michelle G: They say what do you have some customers that would talk to the meeting on your behalf or that we could talk to. Get some quotes. They won’t have anybody who will do that. I’d be like, “Well, we’re kind of taking a risk here because if you don’t give them somebody to talk to, they will go and find people on their own to talk to.”

Doug: Sure. Absolutely. Yep.

Michelle G: So yeah.

Doug: That’s funny. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed that. I mean, people say, “Oh, you can’t talk to the media.” Sometimes they have the view that the media are the bad guys just like they’re looking to verify the facts. I’ve always found that the reporters I’ve worked with have been very good. They’ve been gracious, they’ve asked questions, we provide information. The more information we can supply them in terms of like you said, in research and data has always been helpful. I’ve seen it shape the story where they’ve taken the pitch and just about verbatim cut and pasted it into local newspaper for example.

Michelle G: Yes. They do that. That’s so funny to me too. I’m like okay. But then when you write the press release I hear this to the press releases don’t matter. They’re dead or what. That’s so not true. Because there are so many reasons why you want to write a press release, and why it should be well written. That is one reason right there because they can just lift it and put it right on the site. As long as you get a story out of it you control the message because you wrote it. I don’t have an issue with that. I would have more respect if they actually did a little bit of… they interviewed someone or they changed it up a little bit. But I mean, at the end of the day, you should be writing the press release almost with that in mind.

Doug: Yeah. I guess the other thing that we need to remember is that when the local paper picks it up, the regional papers look because they’re looking for content. So if the local papers printed it, it’s already validated the article is been vetted. I’ve seen them pick it up as well and go like, “Oh, wow.” They go, “I didn’t know they called you.” Well, they didn’t call me they just copied it from a different publication.

Michelle G: Yes. Sometimes they won’t even let you know. That’s another thing because it’s like I do a search whether or not a reporter has responded to a pitch I sent. I go ahead and search before I respond to the client say, “Well, nobody covered it.” Because they could have covered it or set up alerts or whatever, just so I can keep track. Because it’s like a lot of times now they’re too busy. They don’t even call you so if it’s well written they might just… you making their job easy. That’s good, but yeah.

Doug: That makes sense. Why wouldn’t he want to make the research for the reporter easy by pointing them to like you said, industry stats and stuff so they can validate your story. So they don’t have to go, “Oh, well, that’s an interesting pitch, but man, how many hours am I going to have to spend find out if all that’s true before I write about it.”

Michelle G: Yeah, it’s really nice if you can back it up by maybe even putting some bullets in the pitch and feel like here’s a reference you can call. Third-party, a customer or partner or somebody. Attached are some images or here’s where to look for more information or just kind of lay it out for them so it’s not so much work. If you have the role that’s great. If pitching broadcasts. Just kind of think about what they might want or need and then just make it easy for them to get that. That increases your odds I think.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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Doug: Turn, make it easy, build relationships, connect with them in social, all these things that don’t require lots of technology, this requires taking a little bit of time and investing in people.

Michelle G: I think that’s true and just thinking through. Common sense is just a lot of it really is. It’s not magic or obviously we do have some skills hopefully. But there are a lot of it makes sense when you think about it.

Doug: What are you most excited about in the next six to 12 months?

Michelle G: Well, for the industry, I think it’s really what I’m seeing and I hope that this is going to continue this trend is I see steps toward integration. I think that’s critically important for marketers not to silo everything off into a separate corner, but to kind of make, it all work together. And I mean, PR is one piece, social media should be very connected to PR, content should be connected. And then of course, PR should be connected to your sales team and to the C-suite. It just needs to be a little bit better integrated I think. So that I see signs of that happening and I think that’s exciting.

Doug: So that’s cool. I mean, I’ve seen it on my side, not the PR side, but from the advertising side. Where we’d run a PR campaign, not a PR, but like a marketing campaign for a client and say, “Did you send out a circular to your staff? What do you mean?” Well, we’re going to be running ads in these places. Your sales guys should probably know before the client says, “Oh, I saw your ad fill in the blank.” And they didn’t know. So I’m assuming that the same issue happens with PR. They get PR and they don’t tell their team and their company that, “Hey, look at this great coverage we got over here.”

Michelle G: Right. And then again, yes, share it. Once you do have some results, or something’s out there, you need to share it so that everybody knows. And make everybody kind of have a vested role so they feel like it matters to them too. If you include everybody from the beginning, hopefully, they’re going to be watching. Because I get very excited when something I’ve worked on actually yields results. But that doesn’t mean that everybody either knows about it, or everybody feels like they’re invested in it. They’re I don’t know. It’s a challenge, but you got to try.

Doug: So what’s the bad advice you hear when you’re out at a cocktail party or you’re out at a business event around PR?

Michelle G: I just think people don’t get it. They just don’t understand what PR is. For some reason, it just doesn’t click on what exactly it is. I think all the time people confuse it with advertising. They think PR equals marketing. Which marketing has how many hundreds of different tactics under it. I think they just kind of want to lump it in together. I don’t think people understand really what it is. So it is a lot of education. It’s really hard to stand at a cocktail party and kind of in 30 seconds explain exactly what we do. But I always just say we’re increasing your visibility. We’re helping you get the word out. It’s not paid, so it’s more credible because it’s earned in media.

Michelle G: Now not saying you don’t need both and not that we need all of it. But it’s a little bit different than you buy an ad, it shows up here on Tuesday. It’s a quarter of a page. It costs this much. No. It’s a little bit riskier to do the earned media on the PR side. But when you get an article for a client in a publication, at least, unless it’s a paid piece, a branded piece of content or something like that. It’s a reporter saying this story looks like it will be of interest to my readers. So hopefully it’s a little bit more… it should be more credible really.

Doug: Well, then my personal experience has been that there was a publication that was advertising in for some services that we’re offering. It was interesting because when the reporter interviewed me after I said, “Hey, I’ve got this filing cabinet full of information.” What I noticed immediately was my phone started ringing. When I asked people so how did you hear about us, all the calls were coming from the PR piece, and none of the calls were coming from the ad.

Michelle G: Oh, isn’t it.

Doug: We’ve been advertising that publication for six months. I won’t say none, but PR crushed it compared to paid ads.

Michelle G: Oh, I love to hear that.

Doug: It makes sense. It’s a third party saying, “Hey, look what this guy does oppose to me writing an ad.” I write really horrible editorial content. I just keep slipping into advertising content. Write something editorial, I need to hire somebody who can write it editorial style, and not out of a tutorial style like I would write.

Michelle G: Yes. And I have that with clients too. They want to split into that sales mode. I’m like, “No. You can’t really on social media and press releases and things. You don’t really want to [crosstalk 00:43:16].

Doug: They’re not going to run that for you. They’re not going to run, “Hey, this offers closing in 24 hours.”

Michelle G: Yeah. I know. You have to get them out of thinking like that or you have to at least convince them that there’s room for both because in a perfect world you would do both.

Doug: I think you should. Make sense. Works for me. I’ve seen it work for clients. Get the right people in the room, and it’s amazing what can happen.

Michelle G: That’s true, completely.

Doug: So I want to say thanks for taking time and sharing with us today. I really enjoyed this conversation. I could have this conversation for a lot longer. But I know we both have stuff we need to get done today. Like look after our clients.

Michelle G: Yes.

Doug: So where’s the best place for people to reach you? To reach out and connect and learn more about what you do and maybe have a conversation?

Michelle G: Well, my website is probably the best place and it’s really just michellegarrett.com and then, of course, I’m very active on Twitter as we’ve touched on a couple of times. So I’m always over there. I’m @PRisUs not peers, but PR is us.

Doug: Okay. And one last question. I know we did talk about this earlier, who’s one guest you think I should invite on my show? It could be a client of yours. It could be your connection who’s a lawyer who can explain how PR works.

Michelle G: Oh, yeah, he wouldn’t be great. Yeah. I mean, there are so many people that I respect and admire. Right now actually I have a chat. Twitter chat called freelance chat. That’s on Thursdays at noon. If you’re-

Doug: Yeah. I saw that. Yeah.

Michelle G: There is a person we had on a guest named Chris Brown and he is an attorney. He specializes in working with solopreneurs, freelancers and the like. He actually has this great product and this is a little plug for him and his product. But it’s for making contracts. Setting up consulting agreements. It’s almost like you choose from a menu of things. Then it builds out this consulting agreement. He, I think, that just popped into my head because we’re talking about legal things, but that’s just something a lot of freelancers struggle with. This is it’s called contract canvas. It’s very interesting to me. He does have the legal ease. A lot of legal knowledge to not steer folks wrong because I think a lot of times we just don’t even know what to include in there and what to leave out.

Doug: That’s super. That’s a great resource. Obviously we use legal guys and we take what they say under advisement. I don’t think they’re always right. They tend to be sometimes so super overprotective, but as a business owner, you need to make the final decision. But it’s great to have a resource like that to draw on. I appreciate the referral. I’ll have to check out your Twitter chat. I saw that when I was looking at your feed and I didn’t realize it was today.

Michelle G: Every Thursday. Any Thursday we are there.

Doug: Well, super good. Well, hey, thanks so much for taking the time again and sharing with us. I just appreciate you and what you’re doing. I love following your feed and Twitter online.

Michelle G: Thank you so much, Doug. This has been fun. Thank you so much.

Doug: Stay tuned listeners in the episode of Real Marketing Real Fast and today we talked about real PR. So why you should consider it to build your business, to get your name out, to get your brand out, and why this forum is part of your crisis management plan that you need to have a backstory. There are ways to do that on your own or do that with a professional like Michelle. So appreciate you tuning in and we look forward to serving you on our next episode.

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If you want to get your articles published, it’s always good to take a look at your social media presence and website before you put the pitch out there.

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"Innovation isn't just thinking outside the box; it's about setting the box on fire and building something extraordinary from the ashes."

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