Why good media relations is more than fine wine and cake…..
It is quite possible that right at earth’s creation, had Adam been a journalist and Eve a PR Manager, then none of us would exist today. The first two people on earth would also have been the last, such is the awkward relationship between PR experts and journalists, according to many stereotypical views. In truth, it’s not like that – it could never be! Our jobs, responsibilities and interests are too similar and we co-exist to help each other out. Without PR people, journalists would spend an awful lot more time sourcing interesting stories and without journalists, PR experts would have nowhere to tell the stories of their clients.
At Bridge we pride ourselves on good media relations. Just the other day we had a reputable trade publication call us up, asking for more stories from our clients. We build long-lasting positive relationships with the media for our clients, investing time in getting to know them, what they look for in terms of content for their publications and working with them on coverage. To many, the way to get a journalist on side is to send them food or wine. It’s not (although it is a nice thing to do) so put away those fancy canapés, put the fancy biscuits back in the tin, cancel your ‘informal’ meeting you had booked with your local newspaper and read our top five tips for strong media relations.
Never mind if a client is telling you they want to be seen in a particular publication, unless you find a story from them that is relevant to that publication, it’s not going to happen – and journalists hate nothing more than being given inappropriate stories. Before pitching a story, read through the publications you are approaching and make sure the content suits their topic area, tone and style. Following up on previous topics covered is always a good way to get a journalist interested in your story as it shows that you are paying an interest in their publication.
2. Engage with journalists away from work
No, we don’t mean invite them out to clubs, get them drunk and make them sign a contract stating that they will publish your client’s story on pain of death. You don’t need to be a stalker to be sociable! Follow journalists on Twitter, connect with them on Linkedin and respond to the discussions they start. We regularly feed into conversations with journalists on Twitter that they start, just being friendly without pushing any of our stories down their throats. Remember, journalists are humans too.
3. Don’t harass journalists
So you’ve sent over a press release to a journalist? Don’t call them up a day later and ask them if they have used it. If they are going to use it, they will – bombarding them with phone calls will only put them off the idea. Would you like it if you bought your weekly shopping from the supermarket and they rung you up a day later and asked if your milk was tasty enough? Then they rang the next day and asked about your bread? You wouldn’t – so don’t do it to journalists.
4. Work with journalists strategically
Make sure you give journalists what they want. Trade press often release details of forward features – get yourself a copy and see what topics they are covering in the future. Relay it to your client and come up with a suitable story that meets the feature’s needs. Journalists are always looking for stories so make their job easier and provide for them exactly what they want.
5. Have patience
Not everything you send to a journalist will be published – that’s just life. Sometimes there is no room or other stories are just more important. That’s no reason to blacklist them and cross them off your Christmas card list – they are doing their job. You never know, it just might make it to the next issue instead. Journalists work to tight deadlines and often have a lot of work to do and a lot of PR agencies to deal with. No matter how many stories you have that are interesting, you have to remember you are just one of many.
As well as investing heavily in the time it takes to develop personal relationships with the media, Bridge also invests in press distribution software and systems to ensure our clients’ stories achieve a much greater reach through newswires and social media activity.
Take advantage of our media relations skills and place your PR and marketing efforts in our capable hands. Call us today on 02476520025 and we can maximise your PR coverage through our media friends.