Critical to the success of a public relations consulting professional is media relations. Simply put, media relations can be defined as developing relationships with journalists for the purpose of furthering an organization’s message. Depending on the concept you want communicated, you first need to determine which media will be most effective.
As you prepare to approach the media with your message, you will find three basic avenues:
This includes newspapers and magazines. The purpose and scope of your organization will determine whether you want to develop relationships with local or nationally published journalists. Print can include a wide range of publications from niche city papers to newspapers and stories that get syndicated nationally and even internationally.
Local news reporters are generally easy to work with – that is if you have what they want. They are always looking for local stories, so if your client is doing something that will affect the community, chances are good that they will be interested. National news, of course, is much more difficult, unless your client is a well-known, global or Fortune 500 company and the story affects thousands of people. Of course, if you’ve got a newsworthy scoop or have orchestrated a wild stunt don’t be surprised if big time stations pick up your story. PSA’s (public service announcements) can be useful, but there are very strict guidelines to qualify as a PSA.
The best way to use the online channel to develop media relations is through press releases. There are many press release services like prweb.com which charge you a couple of hundred dollars for each release or free services like prlog.org. What’s the difference? Paid services have a much wider and deeper reach. Your story has a much better chance of being picked up by Google News, a local paper or well known blog. The free websites offer you a good way to get your message out, can be helpful for SEO and give you an opportunity at being picked up by the media – but the chance is fairly small.
If you have an established blog that is always a great way to get your message out. Or you can contribute an article or story to a blot that already has a strong readership base.
Proceed With Caution
When you are ready to contact the media with a story you’d like to pitch, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Reporters are very busy. Whether you are approaching them verbally or in writing, be sure to keep it to the point and objective.
- Editors make the final decision on whether or not to run a story, and they tend to take pride in that. If you present your story with too much hype you could turn them against it. By the same token, if you are too aggressive in pushing your story, you will not only jeopardize your current story, but you may also hinder your chances for any future story.
- Effective media relations require mutual respect between the editor/journalist and the PR professional. It only takes one incident of misleading or deception to ruin that respect. Remember, “A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.” (Lord Jeffery, 1773 – 1850)1
1. The Quotations Page, www.quotationspage.com