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Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed founder and CEO of INK inc. and author Dick Grove of about his career, what inspires him to write, and the work that went into his new book, It’s The Media Stupid: PR Without The BS.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m Dick Grove, the founder and CEO of INK inc., a public relations firm I founded in 1997. I’m a Kansan by birth but have lived and worked on both coasts in a public relations career that spans more than five decades.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I begin to consider writing a book several years ago after several friends and associates suggested I do so to preserve the anecdotes and experiences of my career. They thought the viewpoints expressed in my blogs and the reception I was receiving from guest lectures I gave at colleges and business groups would be a good basis for a book.

I had dabbled in writing screenplays, and even started a book about a particular company I worked for in the 70’s, so writing in the long form wasn’t totally alien to me. However, my career and family took precedent over my literary ambitions.

Dick Grove, author of It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS, interview on The Table Read

When did you take a step to start writing?

It was three years ago I finally made the decision to begin the arduous process of cataloging and arranging a fifty-year career into a digestible, and hopefully interesting format.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

Once I started writing I knew I wouldn’t be able to apply a self-imposed deadline. I needed to make my role as a CEO a priority. That, along with family and other responsibilities, still needed to be my primary focus. So it was about a three year process from start to finish but I think that was helpful. The focus of the book wasn’t driven by current events, although some of the anecdotes are timely, so it gave me the space to move in and out of it. And when I did write, it was coming from a place of “want” and not “need.” I think that influenced my writing in a positive way.

Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

What made you want to write It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS?

It was my realization that far too many people professing to be PR professionals simply didn’t understand the basics of landing media coverage for themselves or their clients. Many PR firms, and even the colleges churning out generation after generation of PR or “mass communication” grads, had forgotten the simple rules of how to get press coverage. They have drifted from the basic tenant that information dissemination and not puffery is what gains the media attention. Real news based on understanding the media and its rules drives press coverage, nothing else. “It’s the Media, Stupid! PR without the BS” hopefully makes this clear.

What were your biggest challenges with writing It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS?

The biggest challenge was in finding the time, and in disciplining myself to utilize the time when it was available. I work in a deadline-heavy industry so being quick and accurate with writing is baked in to the cake. It can actually be freeing as a writer because you tend to go with your gut and trust what you’re sharing. Not having those hard deadlines required a different mindset. It’s so easy to read something you’ve written and then question it.

Another challenge was expanding my audience from media colleagues, clients and staff to more of the general public even though the primary audience is PR professionals. Casting a wider net means using language, cadence and flow in a different way to reach more people. Thankfully, good PR is about creating interesting stories so I was able to lean on finding the engaging “hooks” and then serving them with context and details.

Dick Grove, author of It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS, interview on The Table Read

What was your research process for It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS?

Most of the research was spent going over old client files and correspondence I had kept over the years as well as pulling from the numerous guest-speaking engagements I’ve done. I interviewed journalists and cataloged their responses and in some cases the examples they were kind enough to share.

I spent a good deal of time reviewing my blogs and others about the subject of news-gathering. Lastly, I interviewed my colleagues and many of my current and past clients.

How did you plan the structure of It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS?

I wanted the book to be structured along the same lines as my lectures, at least in the center part of the book. The foreword and introduction I added to lay a foundation for my premise that the media is all important when desiring to pitch and secure coverage. I added an ending chapter on the recent trends in digital marketing and social media and how they still fit within my premise.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did It’s the Media Stupid: PR Without the BS need?

Yes, I had considerable help in edited and proofing. I hired a professional editor, familiar with the PR industry to make sure my thoughts were coherent, and my grammar and style were correct. This editing and proof reading was done several times before the final manuscript was felt to be complete.

In PR, it’s good practice to have a second set of eyes that you trust take a look at important pitches or correspondence. So where some authors might get a little proprietary with their words and feel the need to “convince” someone offering notes that they’re not getting it, it’s been a constant throughout my career. Asking for feedback from those you respect is one thing. But integrating that feedback, if it makes something better, is another. Putting down the ego to deliver a better final product is something I find very beneficial.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

My first piece of advice is to plan ahead and make sure you do your homework before the first word is typed. Understand that whatever time you have allocated will be doubled by the time the book is finished and published. Find and listen to outside professional, objective advice. Hold to your “voice” but be willing to change things to make it sure you are communicating it correctly and with passion.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Do you know when you work really hard at something, complete it, and then say “I don’t think I could ever do that again” only to start thinking about doing it again? That’s where I am right now. Looking to the future. I’m thinking seriously about an extension of this book that will be more a memoir and less of a “how to.” I’ve worked in a crazy business that lends itself to some crazy stories and very interesting people. And as my free time is often spent on long-distance motorcycle rides through most every corner of the country, I’ve got dozens of stories that I think readers could relate to and enjoy.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

I am proud of this accomplishment. Very proud. “I want to do something” might serve as the jumping off point but “I did something” is different. It makes all the research, doubt, struggle and effort well worth it. 

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