“The art of media relations is dying.”

It is a phrase that is becoming more frequently heard in the PR industry, from veteran PRs and journalists alike. While it is a common misconception that a PR campaign relies entirely on media relations or earned media (paid, shared and owned media all play their part too), it can have an impact on its success and visibility – especially in the mind of a client.

However, the rise in popularity of wire services and blanket email campaigns – combined with agencies unwilling to educate clients who want their latest corporate press release plastered across as many publications as possible – has left some journalists knee deep in spam. Good PR professionals are being tarnished by the actions of a minority of their peers.

With the 2018 PRCA PR and Communications Consensus stating there are 86,000 PR professionals currently working in the UK, the competition for journalist attention is ever-increasing.

Without getting into the details of what makes a ‘good pitch’ – a topic that has been covered widely in the industry – being able to develop long-standing journalist relationships is still an important skill in PR, particularly for those entering the profession.

The best relationships are built over time, during many years and across a variety of stories. While social media and content creation now play a larger role in PR campaigns, traditional media relations still carry enormous value. In fact, they often support paid and shared media and help amplify campaign messaging.

It takes a skilled communications practitioner who understands the newsroom environment and has taken the time to research contacts to deliver a creative pitch – one that provides a journalist with a story to suit their publication while simultaneously delivering core campaign messages. Effective media relations are the difference between getting your story in a national newspaper and being left empty-handed.

For us at XL Communications ‘media relations’ is not dying, it is evolving – and the PR industry will need to move with it. Having continued to grow our business in 2018 and been fortunate enough to take on new employees, it is a message we continue to preach to both our staff and clients.

Liam Andrews

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