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“12 Months of Public Relations – Credibility and Relationships” with Jennifer McGinley

Public relations is all about relationships. After 12 months of working with a public relations professional, Jennifer McGinley, CEO of JLM Strategic Communications, says you should expect to see some real traction. At this point, she aims for higher profile opportunities. Learn how Jenn has uses her 25 years of relationship-building in PR to get the best opportunities for her clients in today’s episode. 

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the transcript:

PR Involves a Ton of Relationship-Building

Ruth: It sounds like there’s a lot of relationship-building involved. So you probably come across people who are like, “Oh well, I could do that myself.” 

Even totally ignoring the fact that they could not do it as well as you could do it, and that it’s not worth their time to learn to do it. In theory, somebody could “do what you do.” But that relationship that you’ve spent all these years building with various media outlets is not something they can duplicate. 

Jennifer: It’s all about relationship-building. I know who to go to for whatever I need. The media that I am close to know, they can trust me. In a crisis, they know that I’m here to help them.

I’ve worked really hard, especially in Philadelphia and in the Baltimore area. If they called me, they know within 30 minutes to 1 hour, I’d have a response. I’d have an expert ready to be interviewed so that when the news truck pulls up, it is a seamless process.

My bosses have always said “Details, details, details.” It is all about efficiency. It’s about being organized and preparing experts ahead of time. When something happens, we are set to go.

I’ve worked in Columbine and 9/11. I’ve worked in crisis situations which I enjoy, even though it’s a horrible crisis. I’m good undertaking that kind of pressure because I know what needs to be done. The media really values efficiency, credibility, and loyalty as well. 


It’s Been 12 Months. What Should My PR Look Like?

Ruth: Okay, so one more tie-in to this scenario. We talked about what you do in the beginning. We talked about what you’re expecting to see at 6 months. So it’s been 12 months now. It’s been a year. What are we expecting to see now? 

Jennifer: We’ve done 2 or 3 meeting campaigns by now. I’ve gotten some traction for them. I knew when I met them that they could be successful, depending on their backstory. 

I can start niching down and getting some of those higher-profile media placements. I’ve pitched the New York Times before, and the Wall Street Journal. I haven’t gotten anything yet, but I know how to pitch them, and I know what they’re looking for. 

Public Relations is About What You Bring to The Audience

You can do a trend piece, where it’s not just going to be about my clients. For example, I knew this organic farm in Baltimore and the woman who ran it. I did not work with her, but I knew she was going to be a superstar. Recently, there was an article on 5 female farmers, and it was in a Baltimore sign. It was a frenzy on amazing, rock-star women in organic farming in the Baltimore area.

That is such a great example of, “It’s not about me, it’s about our field and how we can educate others on the importance of what we do.” So a trend piece is great. 

You Need to Be Prepared to React to Breaking News

Breaking news is great. Offering a quote for something, and being there for the media in whatever way they need it, is always a win-win. For one client, I really want to pitch some podcasts. I also want to pitch Living Well because there’s a woman that specializes in the cultural aspect of food that can help.

I need to be aware of all the different types of media outlets and opportunities. A lot of it is my gut and a lot is timing. For some people, it’s hard to put a value on that and see that ROI. 

I used to be worried when I was in my twenties. I was like, “God, why do I feel like I’m procrastinating or I’m not organized?” But then I would call an outlet after the feeling was hitting me, and they would say, “I’m so glad you didn’t call an hour ago because we were under breaking news, but everything’s settled now. We can talk to you.” So it’s this weird gut feeling and gut that I have. A woman yesterday told me, “Yeah, I just go with my gut and my intuition on things.” And so do I! 

Knowing When to Call the Newsroom is Critical

We know not to call the newsroom at breaking news, we know to call 9:30 – 10:00, after they’ve gotten out of their team meeting about what stories they’re going to be covering for that day. 

For breaking news, if I have an expert, like for 9/11 or Columbine, hopefully, they already know that I’ve done my homework. I’ve already sent bios 6 months in advance. So if something happens, give me a call and I’m going to help you. 

The news organization knows I can provide an expert in the next 20 minutes. They can talk to you about PTSD, any behavioral health issues, or help parents talk to their children about what’s happened. 

Jenn is Always Thinking About PR and News!

My mind is literally thinking 24/7 about the news. I am a complete news junkie. I have a TV in my kitchen, I’m on my phone all the time, and I love Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. My brain has been like that since before I went to high school. It’s just something that I’ve always absolutely adored. 

So I love journalists, I love the media so much. I think as a PR expert, we need to build relationships. We need to respect where they’re coming from and help them as much as we can. 

The work I do is not advertising. This is called earned media. This is a gift. You can’t even put a price on it, although you can figure out the advertising dollars it would cost for a 60-minute TV segment or 3-minute live TV segment. 

The Value of Earned Media

Earned media, to me, has so much more value and a higher credibility level, that I always make sure my clients understand. We’re at their beck and call, not the other way around. When they need us, we jump and ask “How high?” 

I’ve had clients who were like, “No, that time is not convenient for me.” Obviously I didn’t do enough education on my part to explain that you can’t do that. 

At the end of last September, NBC called me and said, “Can I come to your house in an hour?” I said, “Absolutely.” I drove across town and I told my client where we would meet the reporter. It was a beautiful, amazing segment that ran at the 11 o’clock news right before Mental Health Month, which I couldn’t have orchestrated more perfectly. And then, on the first day of Mental Health Month, she had a live 7:15 AM segment on Fox. 

There’s a reason for my methodology. There’s a reason for my research and my time. And that’s the value I bring to the table.