Many argue that PR does not stand for public but private relations. Indeed it is relationships that sit at the very core of successful PR.
For this reason, it is important that each PR considers their own personal brand within the industry, as this will influence their unique style of media relations. Ultimately, fostering and maintaining successful and long-term relationships with journalists is not rocket science but it does require groundwork.
Staying up to date
Research, research, research. Knowing the publications relevant to your field and taking the time to understand the journalists writing for them, their beats, interests and previous articles are the core tenets of PR. When pitching, accuracy is key: sending a pitch on watermelons is no good if the journalist only writes about pears. Journalists notice when a PR sends a generic pitch that fails to encompass anything related to their beat or publication. It wastes their time, our time, and is generally deemed unprofessional.
Having said that, journalists frequently move around throughout the year and so PRs must ensure they are always up to date on who’s where and what they’re writing about. Beyond actually reading a considerable proportion of the news, platforms such as Twitter are great ways of staying updated on journo moves. Journalists are great at tweeting career updates and telling PRs what they’re working on, this isn’t a trick, this is to enable PRs to help them. Say hello! When there is a journo update, reach out to them, and don’t be afraid to ask about their interests and what they’re most keen on writing about.
Remember we all work in the same space, we are passionate about our industry and have a lot of common interests. So discuss news stories with journalists. They’re interesting conversations that tell you more about that journalist and offer a non-invasive and friendly way to build a relationship. This means when you go to pitch them it’s accurate, on topic and something you know you’re excited to work on together.
Fostering and maintaining relationships
Like all things in life, maintenance is key and media relations are no exception. Great PR pros always remember to follow up with journalists after they feature your client, say thank you and pass on that compliment from your client who is so chuffed about this coverage. We are all human and work hard at what we do, this is an ecosystem where everyone needs to feel valued, and it’s also good manners.
Media relations are built on trust and respect. Journalists will remember you and recognise your expertise if they had a good experience working with you. This not only helps build a PRs reputation in the industry but also builds the client’s reputation as a reliable and trustworthy source of expert knowledge.
Part of this trust relies on being realistic about timeframes, whether scheduling briefings or sending a Q & A. It may seem basic but understanding editorial deadlines, client time zones and availability is key to ensuring media relations are seamless and effective. Transparency is crucial to this, so be realistic with journalists about when a spokesperson can schedule a briefing or send a written response. This works both ways, as transparency ensures you don’t overpromise a client and let them down because you failed to understand their availability.
Understanding the news and those responsible for making it will always be the key to successful media relations, for there are no Public Relations without private relations.