November 1, 2022
In this episode, Greg Galant, CEO and co-founder of Muck Rack, joins host Jason Mudd to discuss the origin of Muck Rack, the current state of journalism and PR reports, best practices for pitching media, and what journalists need from PR professionals. They also discuss how you can use Muck Rack’s technology to find insightful data on what you should be pitching to the media.
Tune in to learn more!
Watch the episode here
5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:
- The origin of Muck Rack
- The current states of Journalism and PR in 2022
- How to find what the media is writing about
- Best practices for media pitching
- What journalists need from PR professionals
- Listen to more episodes of the On Top of PR podcast
- Find out more about Axia Public Relations
- Find Greg Galant on Twitter
- Connect and learn more about Greg Galant on LinkedIn
- Visit Muck Rack for more information.
Additional Resources from Axia Public Relations:
- Use Twitter to build foundations for relationships with journalists
- What journalists say about media pitches and sources in 2022
[02:16] How did Muck Rack begin?
- Greg entered the social media world very early, starting with a podcast in 2005.
- Greg had a guest on the podcast who started Twitter.
- He saw the struggle with getting recognized on social media and the media in general very early on and launched early version of Muck Rack — a free website where you could find journalists on social media.
- Greg realized PR professionals were using the site to figure out which journalists to pitch to, and he built specialized tools for PR in response.
- Muck Rack is a continually growing site now.
[06:23] Origin of the name Muck Rack
- Greg wanted a name to honor journalism.
- The name comes from the term “muckrakers” — a name coined by Teddy Roosevelt in the 1920s for investigative journalists who were “digging through the muck.”
- This was a derogatory term, but over years journalists adapted this to be a positive term because it meant they were doing their job effectively.
[09:00] The state of journalism and PR
- There are more and more PR people for every journalist out there.
- It’s harder to get earned media coverage than ever before.
- We also have better technology than before and the ability to work more creatively than before.
- The realm of people to pitch your earned media to is expanding, such as journalists, podcasts, and newsletters.
- However, you need to focus on what makes your company unique to earn media coverage.
[12:54] Shrinkage of newsrooms
- Newsrooms started shrinking tremendously after the Great Recession.
Jason: “Just like these journalists have broken off and created their own media company, I think brands need to be thinking about what kind of owned media or web media and content they can be creating themselves.”
- There are several journalists who break off and take consumers with them in a sort of influential aspect, especially in B2B.
Jason: “The advice we're giving to our clients on an ongoing basis is the point of earned media is you can't control it, and you can't necessarily time it, but it's super credible.”
[19:01] Insightful data
- Muck Rack Trends lets you graph out how many times the media has written about a term.
- This feature is free for everyone.
[21:28] How to get journalists to update their information
- Journalists loved Muck Rack because the site was originally made just for journalists.
- The site gives the option to log in and take complete control of their profile, or journalists can see an error publicly and email the Muck Rack team to update something.
- This allows them to get the best data quality in the industry.
[25:42] Media Pitching
- Journalists want short pitches. They receive too many pitches a day to read through extensive copy.
Greg: “The goal of the pitch isn't to provide every single last detail about your story because if the journalist is interested, they'll ask questions; that's why they became journalists.”
- You want to get the journalists interested in responding.
Jason: “I always tell people, the media is an audience, a channel, and a tool.”
[29:33] What do journalists need from PR pros?
- When to pitch:
- Early in the week
- Monday is the best day to pitch.
- Early in the morning is the favorite time of day receive pitches.
- Twitter is the top professional social network for journalists.
Greg: “I highly recommend PR pros before you pitch to journalists, ideally weeks or months before, follow them on Twitter, interact with their content on Twitter, tweet out their articles, and @mention them. It’s a great way to network with them.”
- Most journalists want receive pitches through email, and if they’ve seen your name before on Twitter, they are more likely to open your email pitch.
- Journalists don’t always like follow-ups, but keeping that connection could get your story seen.
- Follow up with new information so you don’t come off as annoying.
- Find something unique to give the journalist so they’ll cover you
[38:03] What’s next for Muck Rack?
- Real-time dashboards
- Shareable reports
- More coming on the reporting front
- Relationship management platform
About Greg Galant
Gregory Galant is the co-founder and CEO of Muck Rack, a platform that allows PR teams to work together to find the right journalists for their stories, send customized pitches, build meaningful relationships with the media, monitor news, and quantify their impact. Thousands of organizations use it, including Taco Bell, Pfizer, Golin, International Committee of the Red Cross, Knight Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, and Penguin Random House. Muck Rack is also the solution of choice for journalists, who use Muck Rack’s free, automatically updated portfolios to showcase their work and provide information about what stories they’re looking for.
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- Hello, and welcome to "On Top of PR." I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. And today we're joined by Greg Galant from Muck Rack. Greg, welcome to the show. We're glad you're here.
- Great. Thanks so much for having me, Jason.
- So Greg, I've got you listed as the co-founder and CEO of Muck Rack, [a] platform enabling PR teams to work together to find the right journalists for their stories, send custom pitches, build meaningful relationships with the media, and monitor news, and quantify their impact. That sounds like a pretty powerful tool.
- Thank you. Yeah. It's something we built over the last 13 years and had a lot of great feedback from both customers, PR teams at companies, PR agencies. We have that many thousands of them using it now, as well as getting feedback from journalists who want to make sure it's a platform that really plays well in the ecosystem that it lives in. And kind of our whole mantra is all about really listening to customers. And then we have an excellent product and engineering team. So, hearing their problems and going to build the tools they need.
- That's great. It sounds like you are disrupting the marketplace a little bit, which I personally admire and appreciate. And I know it's new and emerging technologies and companies like yours that really can rock the boat a little bit in the industry and get the 800 pound gorillas paying more attention to make sure they're doing a nice job. So, it's not unusual for our agency to be working with more of a startup company or a smaller brand because they're usually doing things a little bit better until, ultimately, and I'm sure this is your strategy at some point is either get acquired or start acquiring, right, and become that 800 pound gorilla yourself. So that's very interesting, Greg. And before we pressed record, I was telling you that it seems like you guys have really emerged in the marketplace in a big way. And I know that doesn't happen instant and overnight, so congratulations for you guys and all your hard work over the years. Greg, how did you land into starting Muck Rack?
- Yeah, it's funny. I got into the social media world very early because I started a podcast back in 2005, right when I graduated school. And a lot of people hear that and they're surprised the podcast existed in 2005, but it was the very beginning. The word podcast barely existed. People called it RSS feeds with enclosure was the technical term, a lot less sexy.
- [Jason] But I wonder why that term didn't stick, Greg.
- Well, I'll always wonder. The funny thing is people thought podcasting wouldn't stick because it was based on the iPod, and everybody was like, "Oh, that's the Apple device, won't they sue everybody or replace it." But funny enough, the iPod has been discontinued. Here we all still are podcasting. But I decided to start a podcast back in 2005 interviewing entrepreneurs. And now that's kind of a common format for a podcast, but this was one of the first ones. I interviewed Reid Hoffman back when LinkedIn only had 50 employees, the founder of Yelp when Yelp just had about a hundred employees. Then I got John Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group and inventor of the index fund, and a bunch of other amazing entrepreneurs. One of the people I had on my podcast was Ev Williams, who was working on a podcasting startup called Odeo. Odeo, if you haven't heard of it because it never worked out, they were way too early to market, but they pivoted to a little side project called Twitter. So, that led me to sign up for Twitter way early. I got @gregory on Twitter.
- [Jason] Nice.
- I was the first Gregory to sign up for it or at least the first Gregory to sign up and think to grab his own name. So, I had this kind of front row seat to the early world of social media. And the first thing I noticed was there's no way to figure out who to follow and who to pay attention to. So, we thought we could kind of crowdsource that by letting people tweet out votes and nominations. We called it the Shorty Awards for tweets or shorts. So awards for best of social media. And the Shorty Awards took off virally. But what really struck me from seeing the Shorty Awards take off — this was like in 2008 — was how much press we got. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC all covered it. And I was blown away because I'd launched things before and I know the plight in PR. I did it myself, and it's really hard to get the press to care about something new. And yet here I saw being in the early social media world and with the Shorty Awards that the press really cared about it and covered it. And I realized it's because the press was using social to figure out what to write about. So, that led to the idea to launch the first version of Muck Rack in 2009. It's a free website where you could just find journalists on social media. Became very popular with journalists. We had over 10,000 journalists request to get listed on Muck Rack. And then I started talking to PR people, and they were all telling me they were using our site to figure out who to pitch. So, we realized that we could add a lot more value for the PR community if we built specialized tools for them. So in 2011, we launched a part of Muck Rack for the PR community and saw great adoption. We still have people who signed up that very first month of service using it now. And we've just kept growing the company since. So, we've gone from those kind of humble beginnings of just a couple of us launching a service online to today where we're set to end the year with well over 200 employees. We have thousands of customers all over the world ranging from Fortune 500 PR departments to pretty much all the big PR agencies, as well as a lot of startups and boutique PR agencies too. So, we feel very fortunate, and we're excited to keep growing.
- That's great, Greg. Congratulations on that success. So, tell me about the name. Where did the name come from? I was waiting for you to share that, the name origin.
- That's a great question. So, we were thinking of how to name this site and we wanted to give it a name that kind of honors journalism, since it was all about having journalists there. And we took the term muckraker, which was a term coined by Teddy Roosevelt in the 1920s to refer to investigative journalists who were digging through the muck or the mud, if you will, given that I'm on your show.
- [Jason] There you go.
- It all comes together here. And originally it was actually a derogatory term for these journalists. It was like, "Oh these annoying journalists digging up all this muck, all this dirt on us." But over the years, journalists adopted muckraker as a really positive term because it meant like, "Hey, you're actually doing your job. You're investigating. You're not just republishing a press release." So that was the muck there.
- Not that there's anything wrong with that.
- Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well, we'll let you know, we'll launch Press Release Rack or Regurgitation Rack soon for those journalists. So, that's the “Muck,” and then newspaper “rack,” magazine “rack.” That was the other piece.
- And then our branding budget was $8, which is what it cost to buy a domain name on GoDaddy. So $8 later, we got muckrack.com because no one else had registered it, and off to the races.
- Okay, good. That's a good story. Good story. So today Greg, we're here to talk about the state of journalism and the state of PR. You guys have done some interesting studies or reports in this space, and they certainly caught the eye of our team. And so, we thought we'd have you on the show to talk a little bit about that. But I think at a very high level, I think at the end of the day, what's interesting to my audience is the state of journalism, the state of PR. But at the end of the day, how do they get more media coverage or how do they get any media coverage? I was having a conversation just yesterday with a brand and they're just like, "Hey, this is our company. We're growing fast. We want media coverage. We should be getting media coverage." And so I was like, "OK, most brands want some form of media coverage. I get it. Tell me what makes your company interesting? Like, who cares outside of your four walls of your company?" And they just came back, "Well, we're growing fast and we're taking a lot of business away from our competition and our CEO's really happy about that, and we're hiring." And I'm like, "OK. Well, good. Most companies are like that. Let's go deeper," right? So I guess putting it back towards you, what do you think our audience needs to know about the state of PR, the state of journalism, and at the end of the day, how to get more media coverage?
- Yeah, that's well said, and I think what you described is exactly why the PR profession exists, that CEOs like myself and business people who don't understand the media always have this story that they're proud of. And it's usually boring, right? Company does well. You rarely pick up The Wall Street Journal and it's like, "Oh, salesforce grew 30%. Isn't that wonderful." It's usually about what's going wrong in the world. So, you have to figure out, well, how do you have something interesting enough that's both the, you know, furthers the message you want to get out in the world, but is actually going to make people want to read it, and that's where PR pros come in. And in our research we found, I think because of clients like the one you just described when they can't dig deeper, PR pros say their No. 1 challenge is getting responses from journalists. That's what 59% of PR pros describe as their biggest challenge, and then they also realize that the journalists are getting more pitches than ever before. That ratio is shifting more than ever before, where there's more and more PR people for every journalist that exists out there. So, it's not a challenge to be understated, that it's harder than it was before. But that said, I think the good news is that there's a lot more technology than ever before and a lot more room for creativity than ever before. So, we see doing really deep research is mattering more than ever. And now it's faster than ever to be able to learn about everything a journalist has written, which is a big part of what we focus on here at Muck Rack. Look at all their tweets, understand where are they now, what are they covering. Another big opportunity is that the realm of people you could be pitching to tell your earned media story is expanded. So again, this is something where it sounds like you do a great job kind of challenging your clients. And I know a lot of people come in and they're like, “Hey, I need to be in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Can you get me there?” And in reality, media's diffused a lot. So now there are newsletters and substacks that you can be paying attention to. There are podcasts like this one that you can be going on to get your message out. And we've really been focusing a lot on not only having journalists in our database, but the newsletter writers, podcasters, influencers, et cetera, where they act like journalists and that you can pitch them on story ideas, and if it's interesting to their audience, they'll have you on. But it's a much wider realm of folks you can go out to now.
- Well, Greg, that's very helpful and interesting. I want to ask you so many more questions about this, but real quick, let's take a quick break, and we'll come back on the other side with more questions with Greg.
- [Announcer] You're listening to "On Top of PR" with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted adviser to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now, back to the show.
- Welcome back to "On Top of PR," I'm your host, Jason Mudd. And we're joined by [the] Muck Rack CEO, and we're just talking about a lot of interesting things with Greg here about how the newsroom is changing, how PR is changing. And Greg, you brought up a great point — one that I've been concerned about for a long time. And that is that it feels like newsrooms are shrinking and have been shrinking since 2007ish. And by the way you mentioned earlier, you started [your] podcast in 2005. We started podcasting around 2006, maybe 2007. I don't remember right off, but we were in it very early too. And you're one of the first people I've met that was doing it even before we were, so congratulations to you in that, and clearly that evolved into this great business you have today. But at the end of the day, I think newsrooms started shrinking significantly since the Great Recession. They were shrinking before that, but it became very material in the Great Recession. And I think they're just getting smaller. And what you're seeing is, as you mentioned, is more people spinning off and becoming influencers or content creators and newsletter writers. And you wrote down news stacks, or I wrote down news stacks from what you said earlier. But just kind of thinking out loud about that, it's true. I'm a big Florida Gators football fan. And the Florida Gators beat writers have kind of spun off and created their own platform, their own blog, their own podcast, and their own intellectual properties, both affiliated with, and those that are completely independent from traditional journalism outlets. So, it is very interesting. It's very concerning, too. I see a lot of people, unsophisticated often organizations or even government organizations, or maybe nonprofits, where they pluck out a high-profile journalist and they put them into a head of PR position. And I get it. I mean, I started out in journalism, I ended up in PR, but I kind of worked in PR before I was leading PR and strategy and things like that. So, my point back to you is that I really think that that's something PR people and marketers in general and brands in general should be keeping a close eye on. And I think it's Gary Vaynerchuk, who is pretty infamous for saying, you know, “You need to become your own media company.” And so, I'm often advising clients the same thing. Just like these journalists have broken off and created their own media company, I think brands need to be thinking about what kind of owned media or web media and content they can be creating themselves. What are you seeing as far as journalists kind of spinning off and creating their own enterprise?
- Yeah, we see there's definitely a select group of journalists do it that end up being very influential in many cases. I mean, I don't think it's going to play out completely, right? There's some journalists who don't want the headache or don't have the following to do that. But a lot of these star journalists, and the Gators is a great example, where you have some star writer who knows that subject really well. People like their opinion. They can decouple from the media organization. A generation ago, they wouldn't have fired up their own printing press and started delivering their own newsletter, but today it's two clicks and it's all abstracted. And a lot of those newsletter writers, particularly in B2B, also end up being super influential, because everybody in that narrow area will read it. And this is something that we're really working on now where we used to all be focused on discovering the very best journals to pitch. But now it's discovering the very best podcast, newsletter, maybe new blog to pitch right in new outlets. So, that the media's changed, and I think that everybody in this industry has to really focus on what are the right outlets to be reaching for your earned media efforts and in doing your research there and challenging your clients or your bosses to like, if they're still old-school about what publications they read to realize there're new publications and new outlets that matter. And I think the other point you raised about your owned channels has they'd say, you know, you have your earned channels, your PR, like right now, I'm coming on your podcast, so for me, this is earned media. But if I launch my own podcast or my own blog or my own Twitter feed, that's my owned media.
- [Jason] That's right.
- And I think that matters for every company out there now. And I think there's also a big opportunity to mix them. So maybe I come on this podcast with you and it's earned, but then, you know, you'll probably send me a clip from this and then I can post it to my LinkedIn or my Twitter or amplify it on my own channels. So I'm doing this for earned, but I still have it within my power to promote this media that I went on to my own audience and the audience that I and my company have built. So I think it's no longer that like, oh, I just pitch something, get the press. And then that's it. Now, it's kind of this whole life cycle you have to think about, then it all really plays together.
- Yeah, that's exactly right. And man, that's the advice we're giving to our clients on an ongoing basis is the point of earned media is you can't control it, and you can't necessarily time it, but it's super credible. And if you can't be patient and you can't let the timing be controlled by someone else, then let me connect you with the same news outlets advertising department — they would be glad to take your dollars, right? And they would be glad to let you have some control of it. But what I find too is clients are super surprised how little control they have even of their advertising. So in other words, you either pay a premium to be in the section or the next to whatever you want to be nearby or whatever. And even some news outlets won't even guarantee that even if you're willing to pay more money for it. So, it's kind of a, not a rude awakening, but they're just often surprised when that happens, Greg. So, what kind of data do you get to access to and get to see in your platform that's insightful to you, and more importantly, insightful to our audience?
- Yeah. We have a ton of data. One really great tool that we have, and this is actually, you can use a lot of it for free even if you're not a paid customer, it's called Muck Rack Trends. You just go to Muck Rack, M-U-C-K-R-A-C-K, .com/trends. And it lets you graph out how many times any term has been mentioned in the media over time, and you can compare terms. So for anyone that's familiar with Google Trends, it kind of looks like that and feels like that when you play with it, except the data set is totally different. Google Trends tells you how many times given trends are searched for. Muck Rack Trends tell you how many times those terms have been written about in the media. So if you're wondering like, Oh, should I still be pitching COVID stories or remote work stories? You could graph out COVID and remote work and see, Hey, is remote work trending up as something people are writing about, or is it trending down? And you can also contrast that with Google Trend results and be like, Oh, Hey, a lot of people are searching for remote work, but there's not that many stories being written about it or vice versa. And you can find those disconnects in terms of what are people searching for and what are journalists writing about and really inform your strategy at a high level.
- That's very cool. And is that a feature that's available to non-subscribers or is that behind the login?
- We made that free for everybody. There there's even more advanced features you can do if you pay, incorporating it into your dashboard with other features or adding it to reports, but the basics of it are free. We just wanted to put something out there on the web that's useful for everybody.
- So, go wild.
- Well, and I think your SEO strategy has been one of the secrets to your growth, because I know when I've searched for certain topics, you'll come up where you'll have a profile of a journalist or something like that. That is very helpful. So, Greg, how do you get journalists to help you update their profile in your directory? Because I know from working with other organizations who do that, they've told me that that's can be often hard to get done and you’ve got to be pretty persistent to get it done and keep it up to date, so what's been your experience?
- This is an area where we're unique in the market, and it's because of our heritage. So when we started Muck Rack, it was a tool for journalists. We didn't know what all these legacy solutions were and weren't targeting PR people to start. So the journalists loved it, it's a way for them to find all their colleagues they'd want to get added, they like having a portfolio they can point to with all their latest work. And as time goes on, they liked the transparency because they wonder with all these other media databases, like, what data do they have on me, are they giving out bad data that causes me to get spammed? So our approach is like, Hey, it's all public. And not only that, but you can either log in and take complete control over it, which also gets us better data. And even if the journalists don't want to log in, they can just see the public profile and then email our editorial team that gets back to them very quickly, and they'll fix anything or update anything the journalist doesn't want. So, it's given us this great competitive advantage in that we're getting all this data direct from journalists, in addition to all the other methods that we use, like indexing every news article out there and looking at Twitter and all that good stuff. But we get this data stream direct from journalists that no one else gets, and that lets us have the best data quality in the industry.
- I gotcha. That's very interesting. That is a unique and competitive advantage for sure. I know I'm listed in some capacity because I write a how-to column for American City Business Journals and their 43 business journals across America on PR topics, tips, and trends. And so, that's certainly a way I've seen that my own stuff is getting listed in a directory on Muck Rack. So thank you for that, Greg.
- That's the true Mudd Rack right there.
- Yeah, that's right.
- And I think that also speaks to the changing nature of the industry where you're both a PR practitioner and in a way-
- [Jason] I think for sure.
- I'm sure you wouldn't describe yourself as a journalist, but you're a content creator that someone might want to pitch you on. And that's why we really make this effort to be super expansive in terms of who we have in the database.
- Yeah. Well, going back to what you said earlier about having the trending data, have you ever done any kind of analytics or comparison between what you're showing as trending in newsrooms and topics that are being written about and comparing that to Google Trends to see if there's any relationship between when you start to see something trending, if it's already trending on Google before, or is it trending on Google after? Have you guys done any data like that? That seems very interesting to me.
- Yeah. That's a great question. We have not done that kind of research yet, but actually for anyone listening, I'd invite anyone to do it. The data's all free. They can just go to Muck Rack Trends. Just Google it, you will find that tool, and then run some Google trends. My guess is it really depends on the nature of the story. Because there are a lot of journals out there looking for what people are searching for and then writing stories to get that traffic. But by first, a lot of times news story breaks and nobody knows to be Googling for it until there's news about it and it follows. So, I think that would be a really fun thing to dig into.
- Yeah, I think so too, because at the end of the day, the question becomes how much control of what people are interested in is created by news versus news being reporting what is trending, so I think there's an interesting relationship there. And certainly we're looking at Google Trends when we're doing content creation, and sounds like we should be looking at Muck Rack Trends when we're doing content creation and/or media pitching. Speaking of media pitching, I wanted to get more into that. I think that's going to be really why people are tuning in today is to understand why are they not getting media coverage. And I know we promised to talk about that a little bit. So, let's do some of that, Greg, kind of what are some of your recommendations?
- Yeah, there is a few different things. One is that we see from our surveys, journalists want the pitches to be really short. And I think there's still a lot of people in the industry that think of the way that they pitch that they're going to write something more like a press release or a news article and do 500 words and cover the who, what, where, when and why. But journalists, they just get way too many emails every single day to be able to read through that much copy. And the goal of the pitch isn't to provide every single last detail about your story because if the journalist is interested, they'll ask questions; that's why they became journalists. They like asking questions. So, the goal of the initial pitch is to make the journalists want to know more. And you can keep that pitch short. Most journalists just want a few sentences, but you just have to draw them in and really explain to them both like, why your story matters to their readers. You have to show the journalists the respect that you've done your research on them and that there's customization to your pitch, that it recognizes the beat of the journalist that you've tailored that pitch based on what that journalist writes about. And then you have to provide kind of a clear next step that you're offering them an interview, an exclusive, or just why the news matters so much and just takes a lot of empathy in putting yourself in the shoes of the journalist if you want to be successful versus thinking about like, "Oh, hey, I've got this great story and I’ve just got to get it out there to as many people as possible."
- And sometimes that great story as I advise people is too company-focused or too organizational-focused instead of, "OK, but who cares? And how does the readers benefit from that?" So I always tell people, the media is a audience, a channel, and a tool. And you have to think through those as you're communicating, but I love that you talked about having some empathy and understanding that your story is not their priority every day. And you're also reminding me when I've done media pitching, and I don't do it too often much anymore, but I always kind of chuckle when I send a reporter a very brief email and they're like, they often respond back, "You’ve got to tell me more in order for me to make a decision if I'm going to cover it." And I smirk because I'm like, "No, I intentionally wasn't telling you more, so I could get a dialogue going," right? And so like you said, good journalists to ask questions. They're also curious and inquisitive. And so, you want to give them enough to kind of tease them and get them interested in responding. Like you said, versus sending them pages of pages and attachments and all kinds of stuff to where they're like, "I'm never going to have time to read this." What's the acronym, too long; didn't read or something like that, right?
- Yeah. TL;DR. Right. And so I always think of like, you've got to set the table for them. One of my favorite formulas for pitching media is tell them what you’ve got and tell them what you want, right? I mean, it's that simple. A lot of times I've been pitched for my column and I've seen pitches that people send where it's just information, information, information. You're not telling them, "Hey, I'd like you to interview somebody," or, "I'd like you to do a story about this." And so the journalist is kind of sitting there wondering, "Greg, OK, why are you telling me all this?" and whatever. So I'm always asking myself, why does this matter, who cares, and why should they care, kind of thing. What are you hearing from journalists that they need from PR folks?
- Yeah, we're hearing in addition to short pitches, we ask them when they want the pitches, and it's generally early in the week. Monday's the most popular day that they like getting pitched on, and early in the morning. And again, I think it goes to putting yourself in the shoes of journalists, where for them, they start the day, they start the week thinking, "I’ve got a problem. What am I going to write about?" And that's when you can help them if you really understand their beat, and you follow all the other pitching best practices. Whereas if it's Friday afternoon, they're probably thinking, "How do I meet my last deadline so I can start my weekend?" Or even Monday afternoon. This is where you have to do your research. They write a story every day. By the end of the day, they're probably scrambling to finish and meet their deadlines. Versus if you can see that they write a story every week. And again, you can see this for free on their Muck Rack portfolio page. If you see they write one new story a week then, like, "OK. Well, maybe Monday afternoon's fine because their stories always come out on Thursday." So, it's kind of getting into that cadence and kind of really understanding the journalist. One other thing too, it's very important. Most journalists are active on social. There's a bit of a misconception, but we have a profile page for every journalist, whether or not they're on social media. But most journalists are on social media, and we'll always link out to their social media profile pages. And if you go to, and amongst all those social media platforms, you and I would probably say, "Hey, a professional social network for us is LinkedIn." For journalists, their professional social network is Twitter. They love Twitter. We survey every year — every year Twitter is far and away their top professional social network. So, I highly recommend PR pros before you pitch to journalists, ideally weeks or months before, follow them on Twitter, interact with their content on Twitter, tweet out their articles, and @mention them. Like, that's a great way to network with them. It's like running into them in a cocktail party and getting them to know who you are. So engage with them on Twitter in a non-transactional way, try to be helpful, get them to know your name. Your pitch should generally come by email. The journalists want to be emailed by and large. Some are OK with being pitched on Twitter, but most want to be pitched by email. But if you interact with them on Twitter, then when your name shows up in their inbox, they're going to recognize your name and be more likely to open it. If you're a name they've never seen before, you have no credibility, and then you’ve just got to pray your subject line captures their attention.
- You're reminding me, we'll put this in the episode notes, but I know we've written a blog post about how to use Twitter to build a relationship with journalists. And I believe it's one of our most popular articles, and it's a really good one. And I agree with you a hundred percent. What you’ve got to do is kind of accommodate that journalist, right, and think about their schedule and their timeline and their priorities, not yours. And the one thing that constantly surprises me is the power of following up also. I know a lot of journalists say they don't want to be bothered; they don't want you to follow up. A lot of PR people say, I don't want to bother them, I don't want to follow up. I've had a junior associate go to a conference and come back and say there was media at this conference, and all they said is don't follow up. They don't like it when I follow up. And I said, I guarantee you, they don't like it when you follow up. But following up is how you get the job done and how you get the coverage. And the irony is that we followed up many times with journalists and eventually they almost always come back and say, "Thank you for staying on top of me about this. This is something I wanted to cover. I was on special assignment. I had other deadlines. My editor wouldn't let me cover it when I wanted to. But because you followed up, I was able to keep it top of mind, and now I'm ready and able to do the story." And that's like music to a PR person's ears, right? But that wouldn't happen if you didn't find a professional and persistent way to stay in touch without being annoying or nagging. And Greg, I don't know about you, but I found the best way to do that is to continue to provide some value each time you're following up, whether that's just staying top of mind through social media and engaging like you described, or it's saying, "Hey, I've learned a new piece of information that might help get this story across the finish line." Or maybe you pitched them something a month or two ago; it's starting to feel stale, but then you can point to, "Hey, there's this new trend, Muck Rack trend, where it looks like more and more journalists are covering this type of story or Google Trends is showing that more people are searching for it." So if you can bring some data, some third-party data to the table that makes the journalists kind of want to do a second look. I think that's really important, too. Greg, what would you add to that?
- Yeah, I think that's all super important. I think finding those ways to follow up with new information rather than just being like, "Hey, did you get my email? Did you get my email? Did you get my email?"
- [Jason] Yes, for sure.
- Is so powerful. And then I think, like you said, it's all about the creative angle. So, data is very powerful. Coming up with really compelling people to interview. It matters a lot, especially now because a lot of journalists have podcasts on the side and other platforms and making sure that you have people to interview that are not just media trained at giving one good quote, but trained at doing longer-form content and video content and audio content, and other things like that. Exclusives really matter. I find every year that matter is more than ever because it used to be that if you got written about in one publication, maybe another publication still wants to write about you because they figure their subscribers might not subscribe to the rival publication. But now it's all on the web. So they know, Hey, if this has already been written about on the web and you're just asking. And maybe even your own blog. A lot of people shoot themselves in the foot because they blog about news and then they go out and try to pitch it.
- [Jason] Right.
- And it's like, "Well, if I write about your news and you just blogged about it, I'm competing with your blog now." Versus going out to the journalist and saying like, "Hey, you can have an exclusive here." Or maybe even had to announce it because you're a public company, but give them some angle. You can be the only one to interview this executive, or you can be the first one to tour the new factory, whatever the angle is, you have to create something that's special for every pitch. You can't just be — unless you're Apple. If you're Apple, you can be like, "Hey, we launched a new iPhone. Cover it or not." But if you're any normal company, you have to find something unique to give that journalist to make them want to cover you.
- Yeah. You're talking about access. And at the end of the day, a journalist wants access that other people haven't gotten or unique access that gives them a different story. And I use the example of Apple all the time. Like, unless you're Apple, Tesla, Coca-Cola, Disney, there's no one standing by wondering if you sneeze today or not, right? I mean, at the end of the day, those brands have dedicated beat riders that are covering them — and an army of them, right? Not just one or two. And so at the end of the day, it's not likely you're going to be one of those brands. But you can do your media pitching a little bit better and offer access and different angles that are interesting and certainly get some of that attention for sure. Yeah, that's very helpful, Greg. I enjoyed our conversation today. I don't think we got enough into the state of journalism, the state of PR, but the good news for our audiences is that you've got these reports and data available on your website. We'll put a link to them from our episode notes. We've also kind of summarized them on our blog previously because we pay close attention to this content. We think it's really good. So keep it up, keep sending it out. We'll put a link to our summaries in the episode notes also, so that people can take a look at those. And of course those summaries link back to your website where people can register to get the report itself. So, kind of as we're wrapping up, Greg, I got a couple quick questions for you. And one would be, and we just have a little bit of time. What's around the corner for Muck Rack? What are you guys working on that's got you excited?
- We've got a lot of good stuff coming up. We always pride ourselves in being a tech company first. A lot of people don't realize when they sign up, they're not just buying what Muck Rack is today. They're buying all the features we're going to be launching in the next 12 months. We've added a lot of reporting functionality. We're well known for being a great media database in our journalist profiles. But we now have real time in addition to Muck Rack Trends, like we talked about, we have real-time dashboards, shareable reports, a lot more coming on the reporting front. We also have a whole relationship management platform. So, we find most PR people don't really keep track of their relationships with journalists in a really sophisticated way. A lot of people don't track their relationships with journalists at all, or they just keep it in a Excel spreadsheet, or Google spreadsheet. So, we built this whole relationship management platform. Like, what sales does with CRM, but for the PR community, so that they can see anytime one of their colleagues is interacting with the journalist, be it that they emailed the journalist, called the journalist, took a note on the journalist. So if today you have a great idea like, "Oh, I should really reach out to this journalist." Instead of having to ask your team, "Hey, did anyone else pitch this journalist? Or does anyone else know them?" You just go to their Muck Rack page. And if you're logged in, you'll see your whole relationship history with that journalist. And then we're working on even more tools to be able to track and report and know like, "Hey, how many relationships did we build with journalists in a year? And how did that relate to our press coverage in our reporting?
- That's very interesting. And that's certainly a competitive advantage I'm not aware that other providers share. Greg, is that something that an agency and their client could also collaborate on? In other words, I'm sure our clients would like to be able to see, "Okay, does Axia have an existing relationship with this journalist," and have a view of that? Is that something that's available or not available?
- A hundred percent. That's functionality that we have. I'm glad you asked. It's something we're really trying to promote in the industry because historically I think a lot of, and we hear this from a lot of brands, that they feel like PR is kind of a black box. Like, they hire an agency or they have an in-house PR team and they don't know, Hey, who is contacted, which journalists were reached out to, what was the feedback from journalists? And we now have this functionality for a PR agency. If you want, you can open that up and collaborate with your clients. So if your client has a PR team or maybe a CEO who knows a few journalists too, you can all work together to build that relationship, to track your notes with the journalists. And then I think it's a big way to build trust because we all know, like, there's a big ramp time. And the worst is when you're doing a great job ramping for somebody and they're like, "Well, I haven't been in The New York Times and we've been working together for a month, so I guess it's not working." But if they see like, "Oh. Hey, we're getting these bites from journalists. We're building the relationships. We're starting to understand who we are." Then that's where you can build that bedrock of trust. And it doesn't become a hundred percent about just like, "Hey, how quickly did we get the first press hit?"
- I've been in business for 20 years. I've never once had a client ask me, "Hey, it's been a month. How come I'm not on CNBC yet?" And I've never said, “We've never even talked about CNBC as a potential news outlet until this exact moment." So I'm with you, Greg, I understand that entirely. And those are always fun conversations to have. I remember a time that a CEO, I said, "Hey, I'd like to meet the CEO of your company and just kind of get to know him and what he might be able to talk to the media about." And the response I got was, "The CEO doesn't want to do any media interviews. He's not even interested in learning about the PR program." And that exact scenario happened about two weeks into the relationship. I get an email forward to me from the chief marketing officer that's from the CEO asking, "Hey, didn't we hire a PR firm last month? How come I haven't been on CNBC or The Wall Street Journal yet?" And I'm like, "What happened to the CEO not wanting to be involved in this?" So, you have to pivot very quickly. And I guess that's why this is such a fun profession to be in. All right, Greg, this was cool. I appreciate the opportunity to connect. If somebody wants to learn more about Muck Rack, what do they do?
- Just go to muckrack.com, and we have a lot of free resources on the site. So even if you're not ready to sign up or, I mean, of course we'll give you a demo if you just fill out the request form. But even if you're not ready for that, check out, we have the Muck Rack Academy. That's free courses on how to do media relations and PR.
- [Jason] Nice. OK.
- Completely free even if you never end up using Muck Rack. Just academy.muckrack.com or you can Google it. There's Muck Rack Trends. There's the journalist portfolio pages that'll show up when you Google, and there's a whole bunch more free resources on our site. So, I highly recommend checking that out. We have a Muck Rack daily newsletter too that you can sign up for that summarizes what journalists are talking about every day. Again, completely free. We have almost a hundred thousand subscribers to that in the PR community. So, a lot's free there. So, I highly recommend just go to the website and spend some time clicking around.
- And Greg, if someone wants to get connected with you, is it best they connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter? How do they best connect with you?
- All of those works. So I'm really easy to find on Twitter and Instagram. Just simply @gregory. I signed up early enough for both to get @gregory.
- And then of course I'm on LinkedIn too. I think my username there is G Galant or just search for Greg Galant with one L, G-A-L-A-N-T for anyone who's just listening, and hit me up there. I put up a lot of content and I always loved hearing from people in the PR profession.
- Nice, nice, wonderful. All right, Greg, this has been a great episode. Those of you that are tuning in and listening to this, whether it's audio or you're in the video portion, I hope you'll take an opportunity to think of a colleague or peer who would benefit from this episode. I think Greg shared some really good insights with you, and I think your friends and colleagues might benefit too. So, if you've got a colleague who would be interested in this episode, please take a moment and point them towards it, share it with them. I think they would appreciate it. And at the end of the day, I know most brands are interested in getting more earned media coverage. And today we talked about some really good topics and insights on how to do that. I also exposed you to Greg's tool, Muck Rack, which I think could be very interesting. And we'll be sure to put a link to it in the episode notes. And with that, I thank you for tuning in and allowing me the opportunity to help you stay on top of PR. Thank you.
- [Announcer] This is been "On Top of PR" with Jason Mudd presented by ReviewMaxer. Be sure to subscribe, so you don't miss an episode. And check out past shows at OnTopOfPR.com.
- On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
- On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.
About your host Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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