18 Jul A short guide to building media relations
Securing high-profile media coverage is the bread and butter of PR. It requires a newsworthy story, an impactful pitch, and a mix of persistence and luck to push it over the line. Given the volume of emails and pitches journalists receive every day, we need to keep our standards high to ensure our stories get noticed.
Building long lasting relationships with journalists plays a significant part in the role of every PR practitioner. Luckily for us, forging these bonds is the most enjoyable part of the job!
Time to get socialising
I would encourage anyone to connect with journalists on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn. This will allow you to keep up with all their news – both professional and personal. Twitter is particularly helpful because most – if not all – journalists have a following there and it provides insight into their business and personal lives.
Meeting journalists face-to-face for lunches, at industry events, or even a quick coffee is without a doubt the best method of building media relations, and you will find these bonds are much more genuine. Face-to-face meetings also mean we have their undivided attention – a rarity in the PR world. This is the best chance we have of understanding a journalist’s current interest and shaping a pitch to suit these. I often go to a meeting expecting to pitch one story only to find another is far more relevant.
Professional but personal
There is nothing to say PRs cannot get to know journalists on a personal level while building a professional relationship. Remembering personal details holds a lot of value: wish them a happy birthday and congratulate them on a promotion or work anniversary.
Small efforts make all the difference when getting pitches noticed. Finding ways to make ourselves more memorable ultimately gives us a better chance of securing the top-tier coverage our clients dream of.
A balancing act
Remember that face-to-face meetings are not an opportunity only to sell, sell, sell. Try not to overload journalists. It is equally important to judge when something is not relevant – much better than trying to shoehorn a poor pitch into a bored journalist. The feedback from media can help ensure angles are relevant and interesting.
Enjoy the perks of PR
Blindly sending out a hundred email pitches a day is unacceptable and counterproductive. We tailor our pitches and make it clear we have read the publication and the journalists’ work. Putting in the effort to build connections and working hard to maintain them over time will pay dividends.
Building media relations is hard but is ultimately one of the most fun and rewarding parts of the job.