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Why the New PR is Personal Relationships not Public Relations

PR is now Personal Relationships not Public Relations.

I got the above comment from Tim Ferriss, the author of the bestselling book 4-Hour Workweek, in a podcast interview. Sadly, I don’t remember which interview it was.

Anyways, Tim Ferriss credits the success of his book to personal relationships. He got a lot of traffic and buzz for his book because many influential, high-traffic bloggers wrote about it.  He connected with these bloggers by meeting them in person at conferences. 

He wrote

My entire book cost $25,000 to launch, but subtract $18,000 of that because I was pressured to go with this PR firm at first, so I anted up $6000 a month for them to say, “We’re seeding the ground. We’re working on relationships. We’re just building up momentum.” After three months, they only got one print feature, so I cut it. The remaining money was spent going to conferences to meet bloggers in person.

Notice how much more effective he was versus the PR firm.

As the internet has become social, you don’t need a PR firm to capture the attention of your niche. Instead of hiring a PR firm, you can promote your business by leveraging personal relationships with the influential social media players in your industry. These people could be bloggers with a lot of traffic, popular forum posters, or influential StumbleUpon users.

The key is building relationships with these influencers.

But don’t just giving your product/service pitch. Instead, think in terms of a real life friendship. How does a healthy friendship work? Through give and take.

The influencers have something you want: influence over an audience. What can your give them in return?

In an interview, Tim Ferriss talked about how he made the initial connection with bloggers. Instead of mentioning his book right away, he first showed interest in them by asking them about themselves including their blog. Soon, they would ask about him and he was able to talk about his book in a natural way without having to resort to a “hard sell”.

In Tim’s example, we can see that he brought value to the relationship. He added value through his face-to-face friendship and his book.

You may not have time to go to conferences to meet bloggers like Tim. However, you can still build profitable friendships online. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger wrote a great post about networking. He gave these five great ideas: 

  • Write a guest post that gets lots of traffic and adoring comments
  • Volunteer to “vote” for any posts that they’re pushing on social media sites like Digg, and StumbleUpon
  • Email them an irresistible question, hoping to spark a discussion
  • Leave lots of truly memorable comments
  • Interview them in either a post or a podcast, making sure to ask lots of intelligent questions

You may not have time to write a book like Tim, but you can create a business blog that adds value to your industry.  

Social media influencers are always looking out for compelling content. If you publish remarkable posts, many of these influencers will link to your content. But first, you may want to build relationships before talking about your posts. This greatly increases your chance of getting a link.

About Dee Barizo


  1. Nick Ellery says:

    I’ve found I’m often better off doing exactly what you’re talking about Dee – taking a grass roots approach & circumventing the PR team. Email a journo you admire. Email that blogger whose blog you always comment on. Get other bloggers from your company to link to you.
    There’s something to be aware of though… Most bloggers I know take their blogs fairly seriously. Regardless of how tight you are with them, most of them aren’t going to do a blog post for you if doing so somehow detracts from their blog and / or personal credibility. In Tim Ferriss’s case, he had an idea that was pretty phenomenal, which helps. Having that something that is actually newsworthy is the other piece of the puzzle in addition to having the relationship. Therefore, the other thing I’d add to the list of 5 tips from Jon Morrow mentioned above in building good relations with bloggers is “Give bloggers a nugget”. Give them a piece of unique, exclusive, exciting information that their readers will lover and only they will have. This helps their blog shine, and gets them referrals / Diggs / traffic. Help them as much as they will help you.

  2. Dee Barizo says:

    Nick, thanks for a great comment.

    I like your tip about giving bloggers a nugget. I’ve heard of doing something similar offline back in the day. People would send newspaper or magazine clippings to CEOs they wanted to network with.


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