Media relations is a well-known term that has tended to be under-defined. Yes it is your company’s relationship with media outlets and professional media practitioners, but it’s more than that. I’m not writing this post to a company, I’m writing it to you – an individual. No matter what, relationships between organisations, whatever the size, are ultimately facilitated and built by relationships between people. And absolutely nothing can replicate the human touch.
In truth the larger the company, the less able any one person can manage its affairs. But it’s the people within corporations that give meaning to the word ‘relations’. So, this is a simple look at some basic but essential principles of managing one of your most vital relationships.
The first rule regarding the media relationship is having one. Emails, phone calls and an exchange of facts/requests/directives don’t make a relationship – not a productive one anyway. Win the trust of editors while you’re trying to win their attention. Even better, win their friendship. That certainly is my goal, because it’s win – win. Ask yourself what stirs your editors, what their hobbies and other interests are and how you can entertain a better relationship by offering something apart from a template email. Enjoy a lunch, drop off a birthday card or make a genuine inquiry about the kids.
Whatever you do, don’t take your media partner for granted. This is meant to be a mutually beneficial relationship, and all healthy partnerships are founded on mutual appreciation. Both partners should feel like they have the better end of the deal.
The first principle here it to establish a meaningful rapport that can oil the gears of the working relationship and provide you with other important data; and that’s the next point.
Do your research. What makes the decision makers tick? What stories piqué their interest and is there a particular way they like to tell their stories? Don’t offer steak to a vegetarian: make sure your material is commensurate with the values, goals and market of the media portal itself. Find the angle that adds value to an editor’s publication. Your content must do its part in providing relevant, meaningful content.
Consider the overall concept of a publication and its various parts. Ask how your next project fits in, and where within the site, magazine or newspaper does it fit in best. Editors respect efforts to tailor content and design releases relevant to their content.
Related to the last point – choose your portals thoughtfully. Widespread coverage is great, but coverage by an outlet that really doesn’t represent the TA is wasted. A scattershot approach is bound to connect somewhere along the line, but a targeted approach will have more impact where it counts.
Quantity has a great attraction, but quality always trumps it. Sometimes PR can be about numbers, get as many as possible and you attract a few. But what if you targeted a smaller market with more meaningful messages? What if you cultivate deeper loyalty amongst a smaller audience?
People who are passionate about something tend to spread that passion. Don’t aim for wide, but mild interest. Build deeper. That loyalty will be rewarded with folks who will defend you, and spread the good word.
How would you rate your relationship with the media?