Episode 002

Melissa DiGianfilippo

Co-Founder & President of PR, Serendipit Consulting

#1 Ranked PR Pro’s Strategies & Why  PR Should

Be A Part Of Your Content Plan


Custom content writing for visionaries with lots of ideas and not a lot of time.


About This Episode

There’s a big misconception that public relations & content marketing are the same thing…. but they’re NOT. PR is a tactic that’s part of a bigger content marketing strategy.

To further dive into this topic, we interviewed a PR expert to do some myth-busting and share her tips to incorporate storytelling to your content marketing strategy.

Melissa DiGianfilippo is co-owner and president of public relations at Serendipit Consulting, where she leads all of the firm’s clients’ public relations and communications efforts including traditional media relations, crisis communications, internal communications, community outreach and more.

Under Melissa’s direction, Serendipit clients have achieved millions of dollars in positive press coverage across international, national and local media outlets including CNN, Nancy Grace, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Late Show, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters, Associated Press, Huffington Post as well as local broadcast and print outlets in all U.S. markets.

Among many awards, Melissa was named the top female PR professional in Arizona by Arizona Foothills Magazine in 2018.

So tune in as Melissa shares why storytelling is important for your brand, how to get picked by national media, and valuable insights when pitching.

What You’ll Learn

  • [02:00] The differences you need to know between PR & content marketing
  • [06:37] Why digital content is way better than traditional media
  • [07:19] Everything you need to know about Byline content
  • [09:50] How Melissa got into PR
  • [10:25] What you need to understand about storytelling
  • [11:10] 1 tip to hone in on your story
  • [12:03] Her top suggested PR tools
  • [14:37] How to be an expert source and get picked by national media
  • [15:49] Best practices for IGTV
  • [17:08] More tips when using a PR agency or pitching
  • [17:55] Melissa’s favorite PR moment
  • [19:25] 1 actionable thing to implement within the next 48 hours for your content marketing strategy

About Shaina

Shaina Weisinger is the Founder and CEO of Repurpose House, which turns long-form content into optimized videos and images for high engagement social media strategies. Shaina has a background in video production for digital marketing and is on a mission to show content creators the untapped potential and repurposing power of the content that they already have. She has taught about content in many publications including DigitalMarketer, Inc., and Startup Nation, and continuously offers valuable takeaways by interviewing industry experts from world-recognized brands such as GoDaddy, HubSpot, MarketingProfs, and more through her video podcast, The Content Coalition. She loves to laugh loudly, be obnoxiously competitive on the volleyball court, treat her dogs as her kin, and recover from tripping on or running into almost everything within a five-foot radius. Learn more about Shaina here: ShainaWeisinger.com

Read Episode 002 Transcriptions

Melissa:                  If you do use a PR agency or you’re doing pr yourself to, you’re pitching media regularly, don’t forget that that pitch that you’re sending the media like that paragraph or two, what the story idea is a valuable piece of content. So what we’re doing today for our clients is we’re telling them, look, you know, if 25 percent of our pitches get picked up, it doesn’t mean the other 75 aren’t great, 75 percent. So we actually share those pitches with them or with our SEO team and we repurpose those into blog posts about that topic because we’re already creating the content. Um, so just think every little thing that you’re doing to secure at the end result, like all those steps along the way are things that you can use in some other way, shape, or form.

Shaina:                    I’m Shana. I love dogs. I trip a lot and I happened to have a knack for making videos for businesses, but the more videos we made, the more questions I got about how video and other content can be leveraged to make a bigger impact in their marketing. I mean 44 percent of marketers say that producing content is their biggest challenge. Get content marketing is 62 percent less expensive than outbound and produces three times more leads. Now I know a lot, but I certainly don’t know at all. So I made it my mission to talk with content, kings, queens and bosses to learn as much as I could about crushing content marketing. And I’m taking you along with me. Welcome to the content coalition.

Melissa:                  So today we are here is Dijon Felipo, right? Yes. That works. Dijon Phillipa or Philipo like literally the families as the two different ways. So I just, I usually say Philipo but like Lebeau. Okay. Either way. Okay. So we’re here with Melissa Dijon full Lipo Slash Felipo depending on where you’re coming from. Um, she is the co founder and president of PR at serendipity consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. The other co founders of female Tierra, she isn’t, she’s amazing. She just walked by and she’s like, what are you doing? And I’m like, I’m just being me just being there, just hanging out while the cameras. Um, so you’ve got a couple of awards last year, what was it? Female per person of the year? I did, yeah, for Phoenix. So I was named top a PR person in the valley, which was really cool. It was by Arizona foothills magazines and that was fun.

Melissa:                  Yeah. Um, and then I was a most admired leader by the Phoenix business journal and that was cool because, um, I was one of few females but also it was like one of the youngest in the room, which was Kinda cool. Yeah, that’s awesome. It was fun. So today we’re going to talk about pr because that’s what your bag is. And we obviously talked about content marketing and a lot of people think that there are two completely different things, content and pr, they’re not. So let’s debunk that madness. Totally. Cool. All right, so let’s hear it thought your first thought initially. Why is it not? Why are they not separate things? Well, number one, peer is really a tactic and a content marketing strategy. Um, so when you do public relations, there’s a lot of things you can do. A lot of times people just think it’s media relations, which it is, it’s, you know, you’re pitching stories to the media to secure content.

Melissa:                  So you’re creating content which is like a pitch or a press release to secure more content, which is third party validated, um, you know, earned media, so unpaid media. So it’s all about content. That’s the funny thing. That’s why it’s completely the same thing. And um, why, what I always tell clients when they hire us or when they just start to do pr is that, you know, the moment the story runs, like the moment that you’re working for, that you’re pitching the media and you get that placement and you get a CNN story or a Phoenix Business Journal or a national magazine is great, but like it’s rarely the best part of are the most successful part. It’s always in how you repurpose and reshare that content. So it’s like taking that one article that ran and I’m putting it on your website, on your blog. Then sharing that blog post on social media about the article. Then putting it in your email newsletter. Then maybe putting a video on youtube about the article and talking about it. There’s lots of different ways that you can use that content and that helps with your seo. It helps with your just whole content strategy. Um, and it just makes you be seen as a credible leader. Yeah, and I honestly

Speaker 3:             really like what I was reading through what you were sending us earlier. For me, I’m Kinda like, okay, there’s content marketing where you’re in front of a camera talking about something and like, who’s, who’s to say you’re the expert even though, I mean

Melissa:                  you get in front of a camera, right? Exactly. To anybody, but this is,

Speaker 3:             it’s almost to me it sounds like it’s better because your, you’re gaining more credibility by being honest.

Melissa:                  Third Party, totally uninformed. The real. There are stats that show that earned media. So when a publication or an out news outlet covers you, the consumers do buy that as more credible than an ad or a facebook ad or even a blog on your website because they know you’re producing and controlling that content. So when you can get that earned media and then you can repurpose the heck out of it, that is a crushing it like that is going to work in your favor. And it’s so funny because, um, that maybe this is going off topic, but people do, they struggle with pr being measurable and credible, which is weird to me because if you’re taking that third party content and posting it on your website and then tracking the visitors to your website or even like if you, you can repurpose it now. It’s like you’re, you’re tracking the success of PR. Um, so it’s, it’s can be, you know, the most beneficial and most credible form of marketing that you do.

Speaker 3:             That’s, that goes along with the things that I used to tell people when I was just doing video production. It’s like, yeah, the, the one time when you’re in front of the camera and like NPR and you’re doing the prps, that’s great. Totally. But all of the stuff you’re going to get out of it comes in how you use it later. And it’s the same thing with any kind of video blog. Any kind of media you do in general, you need to have a game plan for it. Totally. And was like, why?

Melissa:                  Yeah. And I think a lot of my want like video content, they want to be like on the local news, um, or I guess maybe they want to be like bigger like national news let’s say, but you have to start somewhere, which you know, so like a lot of times we have to get them all these like smaller local news placements in order to get them the national stuff and they don’t always see the value of like, well my customer isn’t watching channel five in the morning, you know, they’re watching CNN and what I tell them is you are, you’re getting this third party video content that like you literally cannot buy for yourself. It’s so hard unless it’s a straight ad, which you can buy in. It’s not credible, but the fact that your customer is not watching like channel five in the morning, doesn’t matter. The fact that you had this video content, you put it on Youtube, you put it on facebook, you put it on your blog, you put it on your website, you send it out in an email marketing, and then you build a media reel of all of these local media clips that you can then show to national media that is so powerful. So again, that’s, you know, reusing that one little piece of content and helping you elevate and get more.

Speaker 3:             Yeah. And it’s increasing your validation as a source of expertise. Yep. Absolutely. So I know you’re saying most people want video. What do you, what are your feelings about texting?

Melissa:                  So not most people, but a lot of clients do think like, I want to be on broadcast news, but I think digital, I think digital content like a, you know, traditional media is dying so like print is not as prevalent anymore. It still exists, but really all print publications also published online. So I love digital content because if your local newspaper puts you in an article online or you’re an entrepreneur online, it’s so trackable, so easy to share that. I just think it’s more powerful than the print paper that goes away, or the magazine that sits on your coffee table for a month, you know, so, you know, I think clients are wanting both. I just think digital pieces are easier to repurpose and reshare.

Speaker 3:             Yeah. How are people? I’m repurposing like digital articles.

Melissa:                  Yeah. So actually, um, a lot of times, you know, we worked to secure byline content for our clients. That’s something that’s like in my mind, the best kind of content is byline content. So it’s when you’re writing an article and the outlet publishes the article with your byline, like instead of the, you know, a reporter interviewing you, you’re writing a top on a topic. So it rarely, when it’s a PR related article, it can’t be too salesy. It can’t be like all about you. It’s about a subject that you’re an expert on your offering tips, feedback, advice, um, and then you get, you know, a boiler plate at the bottom with a link back to your website, which is super awesome. And so when we create byline content for clients or we pitch it, we can repurpose it in so many ways. So we like, usually it starts out as a topic that maybe has been on their blog in the past and we’re like, wow, this is a really, you’re getting a lot of traffic to this one topic.

Melissa:                  Maybe this is a good article for us or a topic for us to create a bylined article, pitch it to relevant, you know, national trade or local media, get it picked up and um, and when you do that, you never want the same article to run in more than one publication so you can be the same topic, but you have to change some of the words out, right? Obviously. Um, so then all of a sudden it, it runs in an outlet and then you share it on social media. You put in your email newsletter, you on your website, you can show that you’ve been featured in x, Y, Z publications. And that’s super powerful. And it all started with, you know, maybe a blog topic that you had on your website. So it’s tell me if it’s similar or if I’m missing the boat. So it’s similar to guest blogging online isn’t exactly the same thing.

Melissa:                  It’s just typically with a traditional news outlet, it’s called, you know, you’re, you’re submitting a bylined article and then in those you can be really smart about the links you, you include. So to make sure you get those links back to your website or wherever you want them to go. Um, we’ve gotten a lot of clients, you know, regular contributed content in like ink, for example, Chris Rondeau, I think, you know him, we helped him get his ink column online and that’s by showing that he could contribute a lot of content regularly. Um, that was thought leadership driven around, you know, one main overarching topic and now he’s re purposing the heck out of that content and use it in his instagram like stories when he’s writing about it, when he’s trying to come up with new topics. When it publishes, he shares it and it’s um, it’s really cool.

Melissa:                  Yeah. Content is crushed for him. I actually thought he’s going to be a guest. Okay. Yeah. And you were saying that without his content, like people were stopping him in other states because they see like his instagram star for the training will stuff. I think it’s pretty cool. Yeah. That’s great. So how did you get into pr? I, you know, I always wanted to be a writer, which is so funny because it’s, it is a big part of our um, but I, I’m a, I’m just a storyteller. I love to get people’s stories out of them. I love to understand like what makes them tick, what makes them excited and then find a way to, you know, to really tell that story in a amazing and fun and engaging way that will encourage others to retell it as well. So pr is really all about, you know, creating stories and telling stories and getting them picked up and repurpose.

Melissa:                  Why is storytelling important for you? When you, when you don’t use storytelling to share examples of why you’re an expert and why you’re different. You come across really salesy and no one wants a giant sales pitch and you have a story in you like you created your company because something happened and um, and it made you realize that this would be a smarter move and there’s a, probably a really cool story there. You know, how Alexis night created serendipity. There’s an amazing story there and I think everyone has that and when you can find a way to tell it concisely, um, to your target audience and that, you know, that it just is so much more authentic and believable and um, I, so I think that’s important, but also when you’re pitching the media or pitching new customers, you can find ways to weave little pieces of your story and your why into everything you do.

Melissa:                  Yeah. What would be one tip that you would give somebody who’s trying to like really tune and hone in on what their story is? I would say, you know, get a piece of paper and also we’ll just just think through the path of where you or an ipad. Okay. And I’ve had it for a year. I’ve had pro and, you know, things were the path of how you got to where you are today and what, um, what influenced you, what biggest, what are the biggest influences and what’s the why? Like think of the one thing, the one reason why you’re doing what you’re doing today and God keep taking it a level deeper, like the immediate why may be why need a job? Okay, why do you your job and ended up presenting to make money. Okay, well thanks. So it’d be a three year old. I keep asking why, why and go deeper and deeper and you’ll, you’ll come to understand like the purpose of why you’re doing what you’re doing and then dig deep and find a way to bring that purpose forward and kind of in all the things that you prefer.

Shaina:                    Alright? Marketers, so we all know that blogging is a huge pain point for digital marketing and content. Cucumber has come up with a way to solve that for you. And imagine not having to write your own blog posts consistently. Imagine not having to deal with a freelancer who you never know when their stuff’s coming back or you know what kind of quality you’re going to get out of it. Imagine having a blog posts a day up to 400 words being sent to you every single day based on a submission that you asked for a topic that you wanted. The keywords are right on point. I mean content. Cucumber has solved this amazing pain point that is now something that you are excited about because you’ll consistently have amazing content. We’ve got $30 off your first month for you. If you go ahead and hit the link in the description, there’s gonna be a Promo Code. Therefore you do make sure that your content writing is just on point. Make sure that you’re doing it consistently and do that easily with contact cucumber.com. So what are some pr tools that either your team uses or that you suggest other people use?

Melissa:                  Sure, so I’m the first one. We use a tool called iris. It’s a technology platform that allows you to track your media relations efforts. So like all of the pitches that you’re sending to media, the responses and the results, it’s a great tool for teams. So if you have a PR team internally, it’s awesome. Even a corporation who wants to do pr, um, that’s a great one on vision is a really great tool that has media contacts, the database, it’s expensive decision. How do you spell it? C I s I o n. okay. So it’s a media database you can subscribe to and you can literally type in a reporter’s name or an outlets name and find the best media contact to reach out to. Um, and then the last one is pr web only because it’s inexpensive relatively. And it’s a great tool for Seo for pr. So like if you write a press release, you’ve already pitched that, you’ve secured a couple of things, you want it to go further. I’m putting it on pr. Web will vindicate it out. It won’t necessarily generate awesome earned media placements, but it will put that exact press release on a ton of websites and it’s 300 bucks or whatever. You can get a subscription and get it for cheaper. That’s the

Speaker 3:             cost per. Gotcha. So with cision going back, I know that one of the, maybe a misconception, but it’s a perception that I know that I’ve had in the past is that if you don’t already have like elbow to elbow relationships with all of these PR firms, that is just ridiculous to even try because you’re not going to ever get picked up on anything. Is that the case? Is that

Melissa:                  it’s not, it’s not the case at all, but it is not easy to get stories picked up and it’s not, it’s not about not having a relationship because really the media is changing every single day. Like it’s shrinking, you know, so reporters are doing more and more jobs. They need pr people or they need someone pitching them ideas. Um, the real struggle with that, the contact, it’s in how you formulate your pitch. If you don’t read the person’s content that they’re producing, they get super annoyed. If you pitch them an angle that’s totally off topic. If you draft a two page email all about you and the fact that you like nothing about them and their audience, it’s all about knowing how to sell your story. That’s the hard part. The hard part isn’t the contact and that relationship. Certainly like building relationships can help. Right? But it’s not the bln no.

Speaker 3:             Um, anything that you think is completely overlooked consistently in content marketing, pr or anything like that?

Melissa:                  Yeah, I mean, only thing I can give a tip that I think is relatively new. It’s not new but people aren’t you doing it and I think they should be able to hear it. So if you want to be an expert source and like you want to get tons of content out there and you want to be picked up by national media, I’m the, one of the things I will do is start your own TV channel and don’t be afraid. So like start it and, and start talking, you know, daily or weekly, whatever you can do about the things that you are an expert in. Um, share tips, share commentary on national and local happenings. How it affects your business, how it affects your life, be authentic, and that essentially you’re building a real of your expertise. You’ll get more and more comfortable the more you do it, but that’s something that you can reshare and now and the cool thing is now national media outlets are watching these channels are there paying attention. So if you can build up enough of a following for yourself and you can be authentic and real and you know, show your expertise, they’re paying attention and even if you don’t proactively submit yourself, which I recommend you do, but even if you don’t, there’s a chance that, you know, if you’re doing it the right way, you could all of a sudden, you know, get a call from this perfect target media that you can be an expert source on and get that, you know, awesome prn.

Speaker 3:             Yeah. So I GTV is a new thing for me too. So I even have questions that, I mean, are there best practices for. I mean obviously we authentic, but is there a best practice in like length in like topics and how you shoot it? Like, is it supposed to be the whole selfie thing? Is it actually like camera?

Melissa:                  I think it’s preference. I mean, I know 10 minutes is pretty much the Max they allow most people to film unless you’re like a super, you know, instagram, Celeb, I think they allow you longer. I don’t know the exact stats yet, but I’m 10 minutes is average and I prefer I prefer the selfie angle because I think it looks more authentic. I’ve seen it go both ways. I, um, from a best practice I would say do what makes you look and feel the most comfortable. Um, I don’t think it’s like igt should be used to like sit and do an interview like this because I don’t think it feels like the same as you sitting and talking to your target audience, remember that it’s like you’re sharing insight with this core group of people who are watching you and following you and you should keep it that way.

Melissa:                  It shouldn’t be highly produced. Like you don’t need it to be fancy, it just needs to be. You get being comfortable in front of a camera and like talking to people. Awesome. I love that. Yeah, that’s the, you’re the first person who’s brought up the HGTV. Oh, well that’s theory. Okay. Trendsetter. I mean you just like value bomb the hell out of this episode. So is there anything else that you feel like you want to talk about or that you think that people should know about pr? Um, well, so one other tip I was going to share at some point if possible is if you do use a PR agency or you’re doing pr yourselves to, you’re pitching media regularly. Don’t forget that that pitch that you’re sending the media like that paragraph or two with the story idea is a valuable piece of content.

Melissa:                  So what we’re doing today for our clients is we’re telling them, look, you know, if 25 percent of our pitches get picked up, it doesn’t mean the other 75 aren’t great, 75 percent. So we actually share those pitches with them or with our SEO team and we repurpose those into blog posts. So sorry about that topic because we’re already creating the content, um, so just think every little thing that you’re doing to secure at the end result, like all those steps along the way or things that you can use in some other way, shape or form. Yeah, it’s just about being resourceful and re purposing it total and lots of different ways. How about this, what has been your favorite pr moment that you secured ever? Oh my gosh. For you, for a client, for whatever. So for a client back when medical cannabis was not, it was just becoming a thing in Arizona.

Melissa:                  So it’s like 2010. Um, we represented this store called we grow, it was like named the Walmart of weed, which is a horrible name, but it was like so newsworthy and we um, we ended up getting like 200 national and international media placements from like Nancy Grace. I was quoted in CNN, we were on Jay Leno like crazy amazing stuff just because it was a super sexy topic, but also because we did pr really, really well and it was like a nonstop. It was at the store for two days straight. I didn’t sleep, but I was so happy and it was so much fun. Um, I love that kind of stuff. That’s all so crazy high. Was it kind of like once it started that just because it’s one to one big outlet, like the AP or someone picks something up, everyone just jumps on it and it’s at that point I manage or uh, uh, you know, it’s really just managing and which media you want to pay attention to first.

Melissa:                  What’s going to be the most important? How do you change the message from one to the other? Um, so it’s, it’s an amazingly fun thing to be a part of. Sounds like it. Awesome. So what is one, because we’re talking to people who take action. Yup. We better be. So what is one thing that anybody who’s listening, watching, reading, whatever this is going to be because we’re going to repurpose it, but what’s one thing that they can do in the next 48 hours? Them or their team that’s like realistic and actionable to get a step ahead and just get the ball rolling on pr, whatever. Yeah. I mean I would say figure out the one thing that you were an expert on today that you could speak about to anyone, um, find you know, that one thing, draft a tube or two paragraph pitch about why you are the expert on this topic and maybe your view on a current happening in that space and send it to one reporter and just try it. Find a reporter on your local market, you’re national, you know, national contact. Um, and just see what happens. I love that. The hardest part is just starting at just doing it. Yep. So just do it. Yeah. Awesome. That’s great advice. Well, thank you so much. This has been awesome. I learned a lot. I’m sure everybody else is gonna. Learn a ton, so I appreciate it. And yeah, thanks so much.

Shaina:                    Thank you so much for checking out this episode of the content coalition. Now, whether you’re listening or watching, make sure that you subscribe to the Youtube Channel and to whatever platform you’re listening to it on because you’re not going to want to miss out on the incredible things that I’m learning with these amazing content marketing pros. So make sure you subscribe and we will talk to you next week.

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