Joel Kessel is the founder of Kessel Communications, a strategic communications agency that helps businesses communicate better. Joel specializes in media relations and PR Strategy for business owners and thought leaders.

During his sophomore year in college, Joel got into a small talk with a news reporter while waiting for his shift. The news reporter gave him a very bleak picture of how his life would be in the radio industry and he persuaded Joel to work in public relations.

In the fall, Joel went back to school and he ended up majoring in journalism with a focus on Public Relations (PR). After he graduated in Ohio, he went to Chicago to start his career in PR and he has been doing it for 24 years.

This is an awesome interview where Joel talks about how to make journalists more receptive to your message, how to use his PESO model for public relations, how to build relationships with top influencers, and how to be the leader in your niche.

Public Relations Strategy

Today anyone can call themselves a reporter or media person if they have a laptop or a cellphone. But when Joel talks about media, he’s talking about journalists—professionally trained people from a reputable company. So how do you get journalists and key influencers in the media to be more receptive of your message?

Put yourself in a journalist’s shoes.

Today, we are bombarded with messages, stories, and “news” constantly. Because of challenges like fake news, social media algorithms, and what’s trending, a journalist’s job has changed in the past decade from a nine-to-five job to a 24/7 search for new and important stories.

The first thing a journalist looks at is the source. Where did the information come from? A lot of people look at Facebook for their news and that’s okay. But if you want to find out what’s true, you still have to look at the source and determine how reputable and credible the source is. You want to become that kind of source that journalists can trust.

To become the source of news and leader in your market, there are four areas to look at, and it’s called the PESO model.

PESO Model of Media Strategy

Paid Media – This is where you pay someone to say something nice about you or get your message out.

Earned Media – An example is the podcast show you are listening to right now. Tom allowed Joel to talk about his expertise in his platform. Joel didn’t pay Tom to get on this platform; he earned his media placement because of his expertise.

Shared Media – These are the sharing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and the like.

Owned Media – These are your books, website, blogs, and other content platforms that you own. This includes all the content you make to educate and add value to readers and people you are looking to connect and engage with.

If you start with an integrated approach in these four areas, it’s going to help elevate the likelihood of getting your message out there in a big way.

Joel said, “don’t look at these four areas as separate buckets.” Use the PESO model to get the same message across in variety of ways because some people today are consuming information in different ways. Craft your story and get it out there.

Develop a Media Marketing Plan

Even before you start looking into the PESO model, you need to have a media plan and this is how Joel does it.

1. Start with your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? What would success look like a year from now? Is it selling x amount of books? Is it to have x amount of people connected on Facebook?

2. Talk about your audience. Who are your ideal readers and ideal customers? Where do they hang out? How do they get their information? More importantly, what are their pain points? What frustrates them? How do you insert yourself to share your message in way that they will appreciate the most?

3. Create a message map. This means listing problems, challenges, and frustrations, and then providing solutions to help alleviate some of those problems and some of those results.

You don’t have to hire a full-blown agency to do this for you because you are going to spend a lot of money ($5,000 a month and up) and expectations may not be met. You can do great public relations work on your own, but you have to get a guidance, get a coach, get an advisor or a consultant that will lead you down the right path.

Public Relations Strategy Joel Kessel quote

Connect with Top Influencers or Media People in your Industry

When it comes to media relations, it’s really about how you build relationships with the media.

1. PR Should be Done Online and Offline

Relationships are the backbone of any successful engagement in life. Most people fail to build great relationships and that’s why they fail to get great PR results.

Joel said he is doing social media, conversing with people through Twitter, but he also attends conferences to meet people face-to-face and these turn into long-term relationships. He is now part of a mastermind group based on a group of people he met on conferences. This group is throughout the country and he’s getting a lot of benefits from it.

Don’t lose sight of the importance of relationships—and make sure to build them online and offline.

2. Lead With a Servant’s Mindset

If you want to connect with top influencers or people you feel are going to help you get your message across, first you have to give and not expect anything in return. Here’s what you can do to engage the top influencers or media people in your market.

  • Identify them in Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest
  • Connect with them by offering value first
  • Follow them, retweet their information or call them out
  • Share their content
  • Invest in them by going to their program or live event

If you do this thinking, “I’m going to do this because I’m going to get x results,” you’ll be really frustrated.

Think about how you can help them and how you can spread their message. The media are spread thin—reduced budget, reduced staff—so the easier you can make it for them to write stories and produce stories and do their job, the more they would want to appreciate you and the more they are going to come back to you in the future.

3. Don’t Focus on the Money

Joel said don’t ask yourself how you can get more money. You have to ask yourself “how can I help more people?” People lead with income and that’s where frustration starts because they are not making the money they need. If all you’re interested in is money, people will see right through that.

Mind mentoring coach Kary Oberbrunner talks about the Deeper Path Pay Off and that there’s six steps to create any dream. It starts with clarity, where you’re going, why you’re doing it and what you’re doing. Clarity leads to competence which leads to more confidence in what you are doing which leads to impact or influence among the people you are serving, and then it leads to income.

4. Make Preparations

Before going to the point of developing your media influencer lists, you need to prepare to show how serious you are. Joel worked with an author a few months ago and this author worked hard on his press kit. He had cold feet and almost backed out but Joel was able to persuade him to continue.

This author sent emails to five people within a week and he got four replies in return. The first email he sent, the person responded and wrote, “Great press kit, you got it all together. It’s concise. It’s clear. I really appreciate that. Let’s go through it and schedule a time to talk.”

5. Don’t be Afraid of Niching

Joel shared that sometimes, when he has strategy sessions with his clients, they end up with 27 audiences. And you can’t really focus your energy on 27 audiences. Take the top two or three that are really going to benefit from your book or services and that’s where you are going to focus. This is essentially niching.

About a year and half ago, Joel realized that he has to practice what he preaches about niching. He worked with non-profits all his life and he worked with authors because he loves stories. He said that there are a lot of good stories by authors out there that was never heard of because they don’t know the right steps or the right process to get their story out there. Once he got the clarity that what he wants is to help authors to get their stories out in a meaningful way and continue to help non-profit, he got super focused and work become so much more fun.

This doesn’t mean you are going to forget about everybody else, it just means that that’s where your marketing communication focus is. Get your system in place and if you have a spill over from other audience, serve them the way you serve your top two and three.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

www.joelkessel.com – Go to Joel’s blog site for free resource, offerings, free advice and tips on how to get publicity for your book

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