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The art of media relations

Well the New Year has started off with a discussion on the Chartered Institute of Public Relation’s LinkedIn Group with “Is media relations really old news?” Referencing an article out of the USA, the discussion thread sees various commentators talking about PR spamming (mass mailings of press releases) and that releases (and PR pitches) need to be more targeted.

Understanding the interests of the publication and the journalist, tailoring your pitch accordingly all get a mention… All good points made - but sorry to bring it back to basics, when was media relations just about sending out a press release?

Anyone who works with the journalists realises that actually reading what they are writing about and their particular areas of interest, tone and focus of the media outlet they are writing for (online or in print) are critical starting points, but so is building relationships with core media wherever possible over time.  

This is often about being reliable - delivering information on time and to the journalist's request, getting the spokesperson to do the interview as arranged and with some interesting things to say, helping them out if needed without always getting credited, understanding what an 'exclusive' story is, or chasing down facts, figures, photos, background notes etc

It’s not always being in touch because you want to 'sell' a story, but because you want to continue to be in tune with a journalist and their interests, and the publications they write for as they evolve. And often it's talking through developing aspects of an industry or the world at large, identifying changes that may impact business more broadly outside of your core areas, looking at the way we do things now and in the future - maybe over a coffee or something stronger.

The big difference I have seen is that with editorial teams being reduced in numbers, and many journalists having multiple demands to file copy, the time for those opportunities for a good conversation are reduced - so media relations needs to be even more targeted and honed.

Another point was also raised in this CIPR media relations discussion thread: ‘will audiences trust communications via digital or social media, or trust communications more if it’s endorsed by a news outlet?’ I feel that consumers/customers still gravitate to brands they can trust - and that is as true of the company or organisation being represented, as the media outlet brand itself.