Reviewing and reinforcing strong media relationships should be an important part of every PR professional’s standard routine. Connecting with media professionals is vital for anyone in a press relations role. In order to remain effective, PR professionals must constantly evaluate and re-evaluate tactics and follow guidelines for being tactful. Here are 15 tips for building strong media relationships:
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- Find Balance between Being Innovative and Remembering the Basics. The basic task of media relations professionals is to clearly and effectively communicate your message. The innovation part is where you can stand out and strengthen the relationship. Digital communications can assist and even enhance your communications. However just don’t let the style of the communication and pitfalls of casual digital communications hinder the message from efficiently coming through.
- Polish Your Pitch. Delivery a concise message that is relevant, newsworthy and full of facts. Don’t forget the hook. Understand that journalists receive these all day long, every day. What is different about your news and what makes it relevant to the journalist? Spell everything out for them.
- Send Personalized, Targeted Emails. Personalize your email communications and be sure that you are sending them to the right journalists. Your email communications should appear to be individually sent, even If they are not. Tools today allow you to automate personalization in the address field. Beyond that, be sure that you are sending relevant emails to the correct journalist that covers the type of topics you are angling for.
- Read the Journalist’s Work. This shouldn’t have to be a tip, but it has to be. Reading the journalist’s work doesn’t have to take a great deal of time. It helps you to know what they write about and how they write. This will not only ensure that your news is relevant to them, but also allow you to gear your pitch accordingly and increase the probability of getting picked up.
- Connect on Social Media. By connecting on social media, it means being social and engaging with journalists all the time, not just when you need something from them. Occasionally comment, like, and share their articles or blog posts. Don’t only comment or engage when you want their attention.
- Get to Know the Journalists and Give Them What They Want. This goes along with reading their work and connecting on social media. Creating these relationships that grow stronger over time is most successful if the relationship is reciprocal.
- Share all the Information. Always share all the news and all of the information you have. Let the reporter edit out what they do or don’t want. If there is something you don’t want reported, the best thing is to still let the media contact know about it, but explain that it is “off the record”. That way, you would not run into a problem of them discovering it from another source and printing it.
- Honesty is the Best Policy. We shouldn’t have to say it, but it is important to understand that when dealing with the media, it is extremely important because being exposed for not telling the truth by the media is quite a public affair.
- Learn How to Be Quotable. Make the reporter’s job easier by giving quotable sound bites. The less editing and guess-work that a journalist has, the more likely your news or release will get posted. Keep your quotes short and to the point, offer perspective not a complete story.
- Be Timely. Old news is no news. Being timely can have a dual meaning with journalists. Make sure that the news is relevant or put a current events or pop culture spin on your news. It also means respecting a reporter’s deadlines. Do not assume that just because a reporter is not with a print medium that there isn’t a deadline to adhere to.
- Be Accessible. When reporters work on deadlines, they might need to follow-up with you to ask a question. Give them access to you and set parameters. If you don’t mind them contacting you late, let them know if it is OK.
- Try Infographics. Infographics are a unique and concise way to tell your story. You still want to include the text copy in a press release, but an infographic helps the reporter know what you are talking about at a quick glance.
- Supply Professional Photos. Images and being visual are very important and help enhance news stories. Supply your media contacts with professional photos and make sure that all of the rights for any images you share are secured.
- Provide Exclusives. Whenever possible, providing an exclusive to one special media contact will help drive your story or news.
- Show Personality. Especially when dealing with words or email communications, too often personality gets lost in all of the text. Journalists are people too and they can have a soft spot for those PR folks that they like. The only way for them to know if they like you is to show them a personality. This can be nurtured over time through social connections and by peppering in personal comments and anecdotes.