What is the key to having good media relations?
There is no doubt that media relations is one of the key aspects of our job in Public Relations and yet it’s something very few of us actually excel at. I’ve heard crazy stories from my media friends about how PR Professionals from some PR Agencies do not even respond to their emails or how clueless they seem to be at dealing with media properly, so I’ve made it a point to never ever do the same thing to media.
The importance of media relations in the whole spectrum of PR practices is massive. We can have the best systems in place internally, but if we do not work well with media, then it is a lost cause. These are people with personal preferences and emotions that we have to work with, and if they even dislike us for a little bit for something that we admittedly did, we take our clients down with us.
Here are a few tips to stay on their good side:
- Answer emails, text messages, phone calls. Any instance anyone from the media wants something from you, you move mountains to give it to them.
- Make an authentic, personal connection. Don’t be fake-friendly, because a lot of people can sense that immediately. Instead, try and look for something in common over which you can form some kind of bond. Maybe it’s a band, a designer that you both love. Or it could be something you both equally hate that you could complain about together. Whatever it takes to transform the “Hi, Hello” conversation to a more meaningful one.
- Make sure whatever you send out to media is something they can use on its own without having to contact you to “reveal” more details. Unless you are trying to build suspense for an event that you’re planning, send them ready-to-use materials. I’ve received feedback from media saying they open my emails only because they know that if they do decide to use it on their pages, they won’t need to get in touch with me to get additional information. They’re busy enough and we want to make the process as easy as possible for them.
- Avoid staging exclusive media events. If the client wants it, advise them not to. When we categorize publications based on quality, we indirectly categorize the people working for them. It’s like telling the uninvited ones that they are not good enough for the brand. And in a very small industry, there’s no keeping a brand event a secret. People talk. Editors talk more.
- Do not make them explain their editorial judgment. They are the qualified experts on their own titles and audiences, and we are in no position to ask why our clients did not fit into their stories or product pages that they prepared.
Relations with the media – they’re no easier than any other!