Judge your social media identity by whether you’d want to hang with yourself at a bar [Knight event]


I’m only as good as my audience is — if they’re the audience you want to know about your work and I have more of them than you do, you want coverage from me. That’s the value proposition of media coverage as I tried to convey it on a panel discussion I was a part of yesterday.

I was proudly asked to be on a panel about media relationships at the first ever day-long Philadelphia grantee conference from the Knight Foundation. The logic was to offer some programming and bring together the 100 or so grantees that Knight has touched in Philadelphia. Held at the Barnes Foundation, I was honored enough to be in the audience, set aside speaking.

Full Disclosure, I was there because Technically Philly is a grantee — Knight was a generous support of Philly Tech Week.

Some of the threads tied back to past speaking I’ve done about media relations and getting attention from the press. Here are a few topics that stuck with me:

  1. Why do you want coverage from this particular media outlet? What is it that they have that you don’t? What do you want to have happen? It can’t just be about feeling good. You need to know why. Are you evaluating success by whether some of your friends saw you? That doesn’t seem very rational.
  2. Go to where your audience is. Whatever it is that you want to have happen — customers, donors, volunteers, supporters — you need to know what demographic you want and where they are.
  3. You don’t always want the biggest audience, you want the right one. So maybe the small email list of a similar organization or effort can get you the more actionable results than a big feature story.
  4. You’re the publisher. I feel lazy saying this now, as I’ve been saying it since at least 2009, but at events like this I hope everyone walks away remembering that through social, email and other publishing platforms, every organization and individual can grow their own audience.
  5. Don’t suck and create relationships. Using social as a start, develop relationships with those from whom you want coverage. If you’re good at social, you should be someone you’d want to hang out with at a bar. Share and engage.
  6. Earn the right to be persistent. If you give reporters good material and only reach out when you have it. When you don’t waste their time, you can build up the relationship enough to badger when you want something. If you don’t, you’ll get ignored if you push.
  7. Understand it’s a numbers game. Every news organization has something like an internal, casual point system to evaluate whether your story gets coverage. Have you been covered before? Are you relevant to our audience? Have we done coverage like that before? Are you cool? Does the reporter or editor know you? Did you get a strong introduction? All these questions are being asked and you can gain and lose points. Once you cross whatever magical threshold, you get that coverage.

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