Smart People Saying Smart Stuff Part 1: Jen Martin

Smart People Saying Smart Stuff

Having smart and talented friends is one of life’s richest rewards. Fortunately, here at Arketi we have quite a few friends who fit both criteria. So to sharpen our PR and marketing game, we’ve invited several of these folks to stop in and share some insight with us in a series we’re calling “Smart People Saying Smart Stuff.”

Jen Martin, vice president of communications for Sharecare, Inc., kicked things off with a deep dive into effective media relations.  Jen began her career in the agency world before working with both Apple and CNN. And through her career, she has earned a reputation as a media relations maven.


During our discussion, Jen discussed several lessons learned from her career, resulting in the three big takeaways below.

Be brutally honest with yourselves

PR practitioners are always seeking ways to grow relationships with key journalists. Jen had relatively simple advice, saying to stop “feeding them crap.” Indeed, we’ve all had that moment when a client or supervisor asks you to write a news release announcing the hiring of a mid-level manager. Pushing that out to a journalist not only wastes your time (surprise! they’re not going to cover it), but it also trains the journalist to ignore your emails.

Instead you should push back and say, “yes, this is awesome…for us.” Jen states that media relations is a lesson in ego management, and too many of us have over-inflated egos. If you’re ever unsure, turn the news into a blog post and call it a day.

Keep a relationship shortlist

While public relations may be a “relationship game,” you don’t win by having the most relationships. Rather, Martin pointed out that you should focus on fewer, high-quality relationships.

For example, if you want to build a relationship at a publication, you should identify a relevant reporter whose work you respect. Then read his/her work. All of it. If you come across something particularly well crafted, email them and let them know your thoughts. A healthy amount of respect and a genuine compliment can lay the foundation for a healthy relationship.

Smart People Saying Smart Stuff - Jen Martin

Find the story, then tell it

Finally, Jen discussed a common complaint of many PR professionals, that there’s never any “real” news. According to her, it’s there…your job is to find it. Jen mentioned that whenever Sharecare completes a new report or survey, she works directly with the CIO to get her hands on the raw data. She then pores over the information, looking for any interesting stories that may pique media interest.

However, news isn’t relegated to reports or surveys. You can also conduct internal interviews with subject matter experts, meet with various departments and keep your ear to the ground for unique employee stories. Your organization may seem a bit stale compared to the “Apples” of the world, but there’s undoubtedly a story waiting to be told. You just have to find it. For more examples of how to find new angles and stories, check out our blog post on “Media Relations: Think Unorthodox and Get Creative.”

Smart people saying MORE smart stuff

Enjoyed these lessons from our friend Jen Martin? Keep your eyes peeled for our next post in the Smart People Saying Start Stuff series. This time, we’ve invited Justin Grimsley, corporate communications manager for Airwatch, to dive in with Team Arketi. 

Smart People Saying Smart Stuff Part 2: Justin Grimsley

Smart People Saying Smart Stuff Part 3: Jason Cooper

By James Cochran – June 14, 2016

Email James Cochran | Read more posts by James Cochran

Posted in : Public Relations

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