Managing media relations is an important part of a public relations professional’s toolbox. Of course, these relationships can be complicated and difficult, but this doesn’t always have to be the case! As a public relations professional, making sure clients have exposure and publicity is the main part of what’s expected when a client agreement is signed. For this reason, managing media relationships is also a role that a publicist must pay. Having productive and polite relationships with media can make life easier for both the PR firm as well as the client.
Improving media relations doesn’t have to be a complicated process. First, it’s important to take a look at the existing relationships with media. What can be improved here? Perhaps there are some relationships that can be made better with more communication. Or maybe a relationship with a certain media outlet can be sweetened if the publicist sticks to deadlines with more diligence. All of the facets of the media relationship must be examined when looking for opportunities to bolster these important elements of public relations.
How does one go about improving these media relations? For starters, consider the way that the media works. Members of the media typically operate off assignments or tips. How can a publicist best pitch a topic on behalf of a client?
First, it’s important to remember that the media’s only job is not to promote or mention your client. Often, it seems this simple principle is forgotten and abandoned in favor of pushing to get mentioned as quickly as possible. This often does nothing but defray a publicist’s relationship with that media outlet, which can, therefore, do damage to the client. Don’t go in guns blazing, expecting to push your way to be mentioned. Instead, take care to realize that the media has multiple stories to put out, many different angles to approach, and several other publicists coming at them at any given point in time.
Show some empathy and understand that no matter how urgent your press matter is, the priority for the media lies with sharing the right stories, not with pleasing your clients. Showing some consideration for the fact that there are many other stories in play aside from the mention you’re seeking will go a long way in bolstering those media relations.
Communication is also a vital part of maintaining good relationships within the industry. In addition to the obvious facets of communication such as timeliness, take the time to ensure that you’re properly fact-checking any materials or press kits that are sent out. The less time a journalist or media representative has to take in ensuring that the information is correct, the more receptive they will be to run pieces for a client or work talking points into their material.
Having a strong press kit is also a way to win the favor of media members. Clean, concise information should be easily accessible. On the flip side, having a strong media kit can also save the publicist time when there are multiple outlets that must be pitched on behalf of a client.
Maintaining strong media relationships is an important element of a public relations professional’s job. “People skills” and the ability to empathize will go a long way in helping these relationships grow into partnerships that are symbiotic and firing on all cylinders.