Media relations can be tricky, but extremely rewarding. It is arguably one of the most important aspects of our job, as it helps our clients communicate with their target audiences. Cultivating relationships is another important aspect of public relations, which is at the core of my particular media relations style.
When working with media, I always try to envision the end result. In thinking about my client’s goals and objectives, I try to envision how I can incorporate the client into a story I would want to read or see on the news. What would entice me to keep reading? What angle is both visually appealing and interesting enough for me not to change the channel?
You’ve got to balance the needs of your client – to make sure you’re communicating the message that will enact their desired behavior change – with a journalist’s need to provide interesting, fair and balanced reporting. You’re building a relationship, both on behalf of your client and yourself. This is where the fun part starts … it’s like figuring out which puzzle piece fits correctly.
I try to put myself in the journalist’s shoes. What would be an enticing story for them, based on their beat or recent stories? What angle would offer the most news value to their readers, listeners or viewers? From my own perspective, what would be down right cool to see in print or on TV?
I also remember that the journalist I’m working with is probably under the same pressure as I am. Everyone has goals to meet, everyone has a boss and everyone has the same general work stress like too many emails and phone calls when you just need to hunker down and get stuff done.
For me, it’s important to build a relationship with the journalists I’m working with. Well, seeing the final product based on all your hard work and last minute coordination is great, too!
Here are some thoughts beyond the traditional rockstar media list and follow-up protocol that I use when preparing for and conducting media relations:
- 1. First and foremost, make sure you understand your client’s goals and objectives. Stories can easily divert from your original, approved pitch, so you need to have a clear understanding of what your client’s goal is to keep the opportunity focused.
- 2. Know the journalist’s beat, types of stories they produce and tone of voice. In your initial email, you can comment on a recent story and even frame your pitch idea in a particular tone of voice to help grab their attention.
- 3. Never underestimate the power of a type-A personality. Organization is key. Whether you’re working with a print or broadcast outlet, your contact probably has many different stories in the works. Make their job easier by providing background perspective, messaging, contact information, visuals, photos, etc., all in one document and well ahead of when they need it. They’ll thank you, and it’ll save you from being stressed out, too.
- 4. Be your natural, wonderful self. Most of us PR folks have friendly, outgoing personalities – use it! You’re building a relationship, so ask some non-work questions (when appropriate), wish them a great weekend, have a candid conversation when you see them in person, follow and comment on social media platforms. You may find you have something in common to form a bond over, and you’ll get a good glimpse into their life and be able to be a better resource for them with this knowledge.
- 5. One of our core values at NST is to be candid, but know when to back off and be supportive. Although your idea may seem like a perfect fit in your head, there are usually many circumstances in play that are out of your control. Be candid and direct about why you think your idea is a good fit for the outlet, but also know when to back off since you’re building trust and a long-term relationship!
Like my philosophy? Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into a successful media relations campaign, starting with planning and strategy, but if you like what you read and are looking for someone to help you build meaningful professional relationships, give Nuffer, Smith, Tucker a call. We’re happy to help!