As a public we have access to more information now than we know what to do with. Getting information out in to the public has never been easier. Getting it out where it will be seen, understood and engaged with is something else altogether. This is where having strong media relations can be hugely beneficial. Keeping the media onside and in line with your brands communications will give you far greater opportunities for strong media placements – boosting brand visibility and public engagement.
Reach the Right People
Make sure you don’t waste time and effort reaching out to the wrong people. You could have a brilliant and newsworthy story but if it is wholly unrelated to that outlet’s medium then they won’t use it. Sending generic mass emails and messages out to “the media” is a sure fire way to upset any journalist. Assess which publications and media outlets are best suited to your type of organization and target them directly. Review previous publications on similar organizations or within your industry and establish the key players within that organization. Who sources the contacts, who reads the articles and who edits them? Reach out to these people directly and target stories and ideas to people you know will be more inclined to publish it.
Understand How They Operate
Get to know the relevant reporters and understand how they operate. Each outlet and each journalist works slightly differently, utilizing different means of communication and way of working. Some people are happy being contacted through their mobile phone – others are definitely not. Understanding how the media outlets operate will ensure you avoid any embarrassing or damaging mistakes. Draw up a list of media contacts, with fully up to date contact information and make a note of how and when best to contact them.
Establish a Clear Message
Sending out press releases verbatim is unlikely to entice the media in to following up on your story. In time pressure situations you often have a very narrow window of opportunity to pitch your story. Draw up a synopsis of your release for pitch purposes. Ensure you cover all the facts and outline the message you wish to convey, outlining clearly how and why it is a compelling and newsworthy piece.
Develop Personal Contacts
At all times and whenever possible, communicate with journalists personally. Try and establish clear and lasting relationships by remaining front of mind. Always refer to who you are, what you do and how you know each other. Over time journalists will see you as a regular contact, making it easier for you to pitch future stories.
Be Available To Help
When contacting anyone in the media always offer your help in any way. They may be seeking opinion or thoughts on an issue and speaking to you will save valuable time. As well as remaining front of mind for future stories, any goodwill shown towards the media will help to develop a positive reputation for yourself and your organization.
Make Sure You Can Deliver What You Say
As tempting as it may be to go along with everything suggested by the journalist to ensure a positive publication – the consequences could be damaging if you are unable to meet these requirements. Do everything you can to always meet deadlines and provide all the relevant and useful information but do not guarantee something which cannot be achieved.
Always Follow Up
Keep up to date with the progress of all potential media placements and follow up on leads with further communication. Offer to provide additional information or enhancements like videos or photos. Not only will this boost your chances of a compelling news article but you will remain at the forefront of the media’s thoughts for future publications.
Wherever possible contact journalists and pitch stories in an offline setting. Phone conversations are far better than email in conveying meaning and tone whilst face to face meetings are better still. They allow you to establish necessary contacts and relationships quicker and also by using a live setting you have a better chance of success in conveying the nuances of your story.
Ensure Your Message is Accurate and Newsworthy
Above all else make sure your story is newsworthy. I cannot stress this enough. After committing time and effort in to reaching contacts and creating media opportunities, make sure what you ultimately present is of high enough quality and relevance to pique a journalists interest. Stories which are poorly written, incorrect or misleading will not be considered. Similarly make sure your story is of interest to a wide enough audience. An interesting and compelling story it may be but if no-one outside your office cares than it is of no use to the wider media.
Media Relations are becoming increasingly important in the public relations of any organization. Keeping track of these guidelines and tips will help to ensure that you get the best out of the opportunities afforded to you by the wide ranging media outlets.