- Journalists want personalised approaches to communication: they are people first, journalists second
- It’s easy to piss off a journalist if you call them
- Contacting a journalist with a story you know is shit is going to result in shit coverage
- PR people with good relationships with journalists know not to pitch bad stories – or at least know how to package it to be relevant to the journalist
- Media relations is about relationships, but they can be destroyed easily
- You have to think beyond a phone call or email
- Big companies focus on building relationships with key media over time, it’s less about immediate coverage and more about long-term awareness
- You need to invest in activity that gets you in front of media
Media relations has always been more than just pitching stories though; it is about building relationships and understanding that not everything is about generating coverage.
Building relationships is the reason many companies and agencies think of fun and quirky ways to engage target media.
It doesn’t matter whether it is organising a bi-monthly pub quiz, taking journalists to the F1 and getting behind the scenes tours, inviting media to different concerts or sending out cupcakes – media relations goes beyond the phone call or email.
Time and time again, it is where we see smaller companies stumble. Many are unprepared to invest in the activity that will help build their name with target journalists, and instead, want just to send out press releases.
The ongoing challenge with media relations is trying to balance often unreal expectations of companies with what media need. Telling stories to journalists today often requires taking a creative approach to getting attention. Larger stories will often require companies to pre-pitch media and provide experts who can verify any claims made by the business.
Journalists can only really respond to a limited number of pitches they receive each day. Standing out from the crowd is hugely important if companies want to break through.
Having a good press release, with good imagery, possible video footage and access to compelling spokespeople is the start of media relations. The hard work starts after that. Finding the right journalists, who will be interested in the news, and getting it in front of them in the best way is where things become complicated.
Many companies have turned to creativity to break through. If you aren’t prepared to up your game, you won’t break through.