Media relations are essential for PR professionals as its one of the key factors that generates good PR coverage.
As simple as its sounds it’s not an easy thing to do. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Don’t ruin your chances by sending a pitch that is outside of the reporter’s coverage area. The time that you can devote to reading up on a reporter’s beat and the stories that he or she is interested in is well worth the investment; you’ll be ahead of the game and lay the groundwork for a good relationship. Before you send your pitch, stop for a moment and think about what you’re offering the reporter.
You want to create a narrative that isn’t blatantly self-serving, but gives the reporter an angle, perspective and trend that they might realistically be interested in covering. Think of all the assets that a reporter requires, including images, video, data and access to spokespeople. In today’s 24/7 social-media-driven news cycle, speed is paramount. Don’t let a timely news hook go to waste and don’t let a reporter’s inbound inquiry for sources go unanswered.
At the very least, acknowledge within the first half hour of receiving the email whether you intend to be a source or not. The key to providing a good experience is being responsive either way. Think about how breaking news fits into your business, industry or landscape and offer a unique point of view that the reporter can incorporate into their coverage of the news. This goes a long way in terms of relationship-building.
Offer yourself or other people from your network as sources that can help the reporter do his or her job. For example, a reporter asked me if I knew of any sources who could comment on a story around cyber security. I didn’t have any clients in the industry at the time, but I had a former client who was an expert. The reporter spoke with the former client and included him in the story.
If you’re trying to build a relationship, meeting face to face and getting to know one another is crucial. I personally like it because it helps put a face to the voice or emails that are typically exchanged. In-person meetings humanize relationships, moving them past just pitching. It’s also a great opportunity to find out about what other interests and hobbies journalists have, as well as stories they are working on.
When it comes to media relations, PR pros should keep service and experience at the forefront and truly help our journalists do the best job that they can.