Joan Stewart is the woman behind, which teaches Publicity Hounds how to catch the attention of frazzled news directors, busy reporters and grumpy editors. With over 20 years of experience as a grumpy editor at three daily newspapers and The Business Journal in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as a media relations consultant and professional speaker, she shows people how to use the traditional media and social networking to establish their credibility, enhance their reputation, position themselves as experts, sell more products and services, promote a favorite cause or issue, and establish their companies as employers of choice.

TAMMY LAWMAN: Let’s get to it. I’m so excited for people to see this, Joan. Thank you very much.

JOAN STEWART: I call it “How to REALLY Use Publicity as an Online Marketing Channel and ZIG When Everyone Else is ZAGGING.” I have to tell you that everybody’s zagging. They’re all doing the same things. Today, in 2010, you need to be aware of the four main ways that the publicity rules have changed. These rules have changed even since I left the newspaper business 13 years ago. Here’s how the rules have changed.

First, there are thousands more media outlets than ever. There’s a magazine or eZine for virtually any topic. There are probably thousands of podcasts out there. Look at your own television preferences. Many of you subscribe to cable where you can get 230 channels on programs devoted to even the narrowest niche topics. The media out there that you can now pitch to has multiplied tremendously versus what it was like even 10 years ago.

Second, you can now reach consumers directly with your publicity message. I think this is really exciting because no longer do we have to genuflect at the altar of traditional media. We can pitch stories to the media, of course, and we should, but if they don’t like the idea we suggested, we can go onto sites like and upload our articles. I certainly hope many people listening to this are blogging.

You can push your message out through blogs, eZines, podcasts, and all different ways. You are now the new journalists. Anybody who blogs, participates in social media, or has an electronic or even print newsletter is now called the new journalist. I think the line between traditional journalists and everybody else has become blurred the last couple of years now that so many people are online and are sharing information with each other.

The old days of having to capture the attention only of traditional journalists are over with. Fourth, you can be the media. Many of you are already the media. A lot of you, I hope, have your own channel on YouTube. I know some of you are podcasting. For those of you who are blogging, you may offer an RSS feed at your blog. There are so many ways to become the media. I also think it’s important to share with you the biggest publicity myth, which is what I call the “spray and pray” technique.

The myth is that spray and pray works. It absolutely does not work. Let me explain to you what spray and pray means. Spray and pray means that you have a story idea or news about your company, so you sit down and write a press release. It’s a one-size-fits-all press release. You then take that one release and distribute it to 300 media outlets. You can send it to 300 media contacts, upload it, do the press release distribution sites, or take a one-size-fits-all pitch and deliver that pitch via email to 300 journalists in your media contact database.

Then once you have sprayed it, you’re going to sit back and pray that somebody pays attention to it or covers it. Remember what I said a couple of minutes ago about how there are more media outlets now than ever before? That’s precisely the problem. Because there are so many more media outlets and those outlets serve different audiences that have different wants and needs, the spray and pray technique seldom works.

Here’s one thing you have to do if you want attention not only from the traditional media but from all those new journalists: the bloggers, eZine editors, and all the people who are in social media. Many of you who have followed me for years have heard me say this over and over. You must not be afraid to become an expert in your field and use that E-word when you’re in communication with journalists.

I’ve heard a lot of people say this to me when I do live workshops: “I would never think of positioning myself as an expert in my field because I’m not the one person who knows the most about my topic.” I come back to you and say, “That’s okay. You don’t have to be the one person who knows the most about your particular topic.

TAMMY LAWMAN: I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I love this part of the discussion because as you know, I have a Master’s degree, and I didn’t consider myself an expert in a topic area. It was funny to me to have my mind opened to this because I was definitely one of the people reluctant to talk about it.

JOAN STEWART: You don’t have to be the one person who knows the most. My trade association, the National Speakers Association, grappled with this issue probably about eight years ago. They assigned a group of speakers to delve into the topic of expertise and find out exactly what you have to do to be considered an expert in your field. They wrote a whitepaper on what expertise is all about.

What was really cool about this is that the whitepaper states the 10 levels of expertise, starting out at the bottom and working your way all the way up to the top. I don’t want anybody on this call to think that I’m just giving you blanket permission to go out and start calling yourself an expert in your field. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is go to this link, and I want you to read the free 12-page whitepaper that this group put together on exactly what expertise is all about.

It’s not only about what you know and what’s in your brain. Expertise is about what you do. What do experts do? They do lots of things. They…

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