Six Degrees of Media Relations

It’s been well documented that the mainstream media have become increasingly fragmented with fewer resources to do their jobs. However, a curious thing is happening, the highly specialized bloggers and online publishers that contributed to the shrinking, traditional newsroom are slowly becoming allies.

Case in point: our client’s product recently appeared on the Today Show and the Dr. Oz Show. In the old days, we would have achieved this through direct interaction with the show’s producers, pitching the story angle, providing product and, at times, even a spokesperson. Now, mind you, for products and brands with huge audiences or newsworthy announcements (think new iPhone, for example), this approach hasn’t gone away, but for niche products with little new to report, this is nearly impossible.

So how did we get these placements? In both cases, we won inclusion in these coveted segments through the relationships we’ve built with niche online publications and bloggers. By offering information and resources of value to this audience we are, by extension, reaching their contacts as well. In the case of the Today Show placement, one of the contacts we pitched about our client’s product wrote about it on her Web site. When she was invited to the Today Show to do a segment on Fourth of July treats, the product was a perfect fit.

Top-notch specialty publications and bloggers have gained significant clout. They typically focus on a fairly narrow topic and possess substantial expertise in that topic. In that sense they are functioning in the media universe very much like the editors and beat reporters for large media organizations did in the past.

Media relations has long been about cultivating relationships. In other words, who you know matters. In the changing media landscape of today, who your contacts know might matter just as much.