By Alexa Solis
Media relations ⎯ it’s a key tenet of public relations and serves as one of the greatest boons to your client on a day-to-day basis. But there’s something about it that seems daunting. That main something is usually building relationships with journalists who are both busy, and often reluctant to be overly friendly with public relations professionals.
Throughout my career as a journalism student, I’ve heard time and time again that working in a newsroom at some point in your life is an invaluable tool. Turns out that my professors were right, I just didn’t know it until working for a student firm (after working at the student newspaper). Though my experience is limited to student-run organizations, I’ve learned my fair share from being on both sides of the media aisle.
Make Sure That There’s a Story
No journalist will ever entertain a press release that doesn’t contain any value to their publication. Know what makes your event, client or product different from its competition, and then pitch it in a way that they can’t refuse. In short, figure out an interesting angle and stick to it. One of the best ways to figure out what’s newsworthy and what isn’t, is by reading the news and studying what is being covered and how it’s being covered.
Target Your Press Releases
Nothing irks a journalist more than a PR person who shows a total disregard for what they do. Make a conscious effort to get to know the journalist, what they cover and their audience. Not only will they be more likely to pick up a piece that concerns their beat or areas of expertise, but establishing that you care about them and their needs allows for an open line of communication to develop.
It’s equally important to tailor each press release to the reporter or station that it is sent to. Try to give each news station a different angle, or work to make sure that the journalist has everything they need from you to do it right. It takes a little bit of extra time, but it’s worth it to know that your press release is that much more likely to be picked up.
Keep Track of Deadlines
There were instances when I was working as an editor for the school newspaper, where I was put at a disadvantage because the PR representatives that I was in contact with failed to get back to me within a timely manner after I picked up their story. Let me tell you that there is nothing worse that you can do to yourself and your client, than hurting a relationship that way.
It’s up to the journalist to do the leg work and research, but often times they’ll look to you to help expedite the interview process and help get them in contact with sources they need for the story. Anticipate their needs, and be available. It’s a surefire way to strengthen and maintain an integral relationship.