How to Put the “Relationship” Back in Media Relations

With the rise of new social media platforms, content marketing and influencer engagement, the world of public relations certainly isn’t what it used to be. Yet, one staple of our business remains top priority for clients (whether that’s your boss, business leader or individual thought leader): media coverage.

Let’s be real. Landing coveted media placements was never a cakewalk, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult. But when the pressure is on to deliver results, regardless of the challenges, PR pros tend to make careless mistakes that cause journalists to, well, hate us. If you don’t believe me, follow a few journalists on Twitter:

Those who trigger reactions like the above give us all a bad name. Remember: Building and maintaining relationships with journalists is equally as important as fulfilling client goals and expectations.

Let’s make a collective effort to put the PR industry back in the media’s good graces, starting with a few media relations tips:

  • Prove you’re smart (and human). You’ve probably heard time and again to personalize your pitches, but many underestimate the effort needed to do this effectively. Algorithms can plug information into an email for the bare minimum of personalization (and if done incorrectly, make your recipient feel like Jean Valjean). Instead, do your research. Actively read their beat and publication. Reference recent articles and offer a different point of view, or tie your client’s expertise into current events. You won’t get anywhere by throwing the same pitch into the internet abyss and hoping it sticks. You’ll only annoy journalists and disappoint your clients in the process.
  • Show value, not desperation. Follow ups are an essential part of media relations. Maybe the journalist flagged your pitch and forgot to get back to you – or perhaps it wasn’t relevant, timely or unique enough to latch onto. The worst thing you can do is “see if they received your email” with little or no added value. Offer another statistic or angle not offered in your first note. Point out a contrarian point of view relative to other stories you’ve recently seen on a similar topic. If you run out of ways to show why a journalist should speak with your client, it might be time to let it go for now, until you have a new, fresh angle to try. Otherwise, you may burn a valuable bridge.
  • Don’t go for the hard sell. Have you ever been in a bad, one-sided relationship? I’d imagine that’s how journalists feel receiving upward of a thousand emails per day, most of which have nothing to do with their beat or current projects.
    Have you ever been in a bad, one-sided relationship? I’d imagine that’s how journalists feel receiving upwards of a thousand emails per day.Click To Tweet If your only interaction with a journalist is offering them a new story, research report or commentary from your client, you’re getting media relations wrong. Follow them on Twitter. Share their stories. Show a genuine interest in their work. You might just land an introductory call and get an inside peek into their process and upcoming projects.

As PR practitioners, we are making a huge mistake by taking journalist interactions for granted. Spend a little extra time cultivating meaningful relationships and we’ll actually make our jobs (and theirs) a whole lot easier – and provide more value to our clients.

Under Threat: The Changing Role of Media Relations in PR [E-Book]

About Anjelica Sena

Providing communications strategy, implementation and execution, Anjelica specializes in content development and media relations. Her passion for continuous learning is essential for her work with corporate clients and thought leaders across various industries – healthcare, education, finance, energy and others – where she plays a key role in the implementation of public relations and marketing programs. Prior to joining Stern, Anjelica worked in advertising, where she specialized in technology accounts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Rowan University.