Deadline, Deadline, Deadline

30 01 2012

That familiar word that journalists either love or hate, or sometimes both. For a media relations specialist, it is important to understand how much journalists lives revolve around this world. Here’s a little article putting it into perspective.


What is Media Relations?

27 01 2012

I realize that I have begun talking about media relations, but haven’t given a clear definition of what it is. Although most people think it’s the same thing as public relations, it’s actually a bit different. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition.

Media relations involves working with various media for the purpose of informing the public of an organization’s mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner. Typically, this means coordinating directly with the people responsible for producing the news and features in the mass media. The goal of media relations is to maximize positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising.

Many people use the terms public relations and media relations interchangeably; however, doing so is incorrect.[citation needed] Media relations refer to the relationship that a company or organization develops with journalists, while public relations extend that relationship beyond the media to the general public.

Dealing with the media presents unique challenges in that the news media cannot be controlled — they have ultimate control over whether stories pitched to them are of interest to their audiences. Because of this, ongoing relationships between an organization and the news media is vital. One way to ensure a positive working relationship with media personnel is to become deeply familiar with their “beats” and areas of interests. Media relations and public relations practitioners should read as many magazines, journals, newspapers, and blogs as possible, as they relate to one’s practice.

Working with the media on the behalf of an organization allows for awareness of the entity to be raised as well as the ability to create an impact with a chosen audience. It allows access to both large and small target audiences and helps build public support and mobilizing public opinion for an organization.[1] This is all done through a wide range of media and can be used to encourage two-way communication.

Media Relations…Up and Coming or Quickly Dying?

26 01 2012

I found a very interesting article about media relations which considers whether the field is dying or booming.

Most of those in the media are aware of the drastic changes happening within the industry thanks to the recession: fewer staffs, reporters doing more work and convergence within mediums. While the economy has changed the way news organizations runs, it has also had an effect on those who interact with the media.

This article ponders whether the economy is hurting or helping the media relations field.

Some Useful Tips

25 01 2012

Here is a list created by a media relations specialist that I think is pretty useful to remember. I especially liked numbers 2 and 8. It’s easy to use the form of media that you prefer when contacting journalists, but really it is all about making their lives easier so finding out how they prefer to be contacted is huge.

Also, I think number 8 is important because I know I would get frustrated as a journalist when a pr or media relations person said they could make a story happen and then didn’t deliver. That leaves the reporter struggling. Also, I really didn’t like when a media relations person would just nix the idea or make no attempt for a story happen because they couldn’t turn it around in one day. A good media relations person should at least makes some calls and try to set something up before telling the reporter it absolutely cannot be done.


Improve Your Media Relations Skills
Here’s ten top tips.
 Related Resources
• Basics of PR
• Media Relations
• Jobs in PR
• PR Toolkit
• Lots More PR Articles

by Peter Granat
Senior Vice President, MediaMap

You can have all the facts, know what you want to say, and believe that your message is important to your market, yet never get a single media placement. Could it be the way you are communicating?  

Listed below are 10 highly effective tips to improving your communication with the media and efficiently increasing media exposure for your company or client.

1.   Know the reporter and the publication before picking up the phone.  First, build a targeted media list of the publications that may have an interest in what you’re pitching, and then determine which journalists you should be talking to at those publications.  If you are pitching a portal story to a technology magazine, for instance, don’t begin emailing and calling all of the reporters you can find at the magazine. You will be wasting time and reducing your chances of coverage by aggravating the staff.  Once you know who to target, you should also find out what he/she has recently written to understand the subtleties of their coverage area.  This will help you create targeted pitches and story ideas that are both compelling and relevant.   


2.   Always know how and when a reporter wants to be contacted.  Some reporters want phone calls, others prefer email, and still others want news the old-fashioned way – by snail mail.  In the case of breaking news, some reporters even recommend that you call them on their mobile phone if they can’t be reached at their desk.  Contacting reporters inappropriately or at the wrong time – such as on deadline – can lead to damaged relationships.

3.   Clarify your message before delivering your pitch.  There is nothing worse for a reporter than receiving an email that is a carbon copy of a press release, or getting a call from someone that is not familiar with the company they are pitching or the news they are announcing.   Develop a bulleted “fast facts” sheet, especially for phone pitches, that outlines your key message points.  Most reporters are extremely busy and will give you only 30 seconds to make your case.  They will not bite on your idea if you don’t offer a convincing argument. 


4.   When sending ideas via email, always include a short, pithy pitch along with your contact information.  It is important to make the reporter’s job as easy as possible so make sure to provide the most important news in the first paragraph. You should also include the company’s URL, as a reporter will often times visit the company’s Web site before calling back.  Editors and reporters get hundreds of emails a day, so entice them into calling you for more information or, even better, to set up an interview.  


5.   Be careful what you send via email.  Never send unsolicited email attachments, as some reporters will be wary of opening them due to virus concerns, and others simply won’t take the time.  In addition, always craft a catchy subject line but avoid using all caps or excessive punctuation as both tactics produce a red flag that your pitch might be a virus.  Finally, never send out a group email with your entire distribution list in the header.  It’s impersonal and shows a lack of effort on your part. 


6.   When calling a reporter, introduce yourself fully, reference previous conversations to jog the reporter’s memory on who you are and why you’re calling, and ask whether it is a good time to talk.  The press gets flooded with calls, so be as specific as possible.  The more general you are, the less likely your chances for success.  As you develop a stronger relationship with the reporter, they will know you the minute they pick up the phone, making it easier to get their ear. 


7.   When you get a reporter on the phone, always ask what they are working on and how you can help.  This will allow you to uncover new opportunities that will allow you to position your news by way of a different point of view. Also, be sure to provide assistance even if it won’t necessarily benefit your company or client today. Eventually, the reporter will come to you with new story opportunities – rather than the other way around. 


8.   Never make promises you cannot keep.  Nothing will squelch a media relationship faster than if you promise something you cannot deliver.  Promise to do your best to get the reporter what they need in advance of their deadline, and always follow through.  However, if you won’t be able to come through, let them know as early as possible. 


9.   Follow up aggressively.  While some reporters will provide coverage after one phone interview, that is often not enough.  It is important to be in front of reporters on a consistent basis with compelling information that demonstrates what you are pitching is viable, credible and worthy of coverage.  Also be sure to offer reporters the additional elements they would need to round out their story – photos, customer references, analyst references and additional sources, if necessary.  You need to be able to provide these elements at the drop of a hat – so have the information ready in advance.


10. Whenever possible, pitch by phone.  This will get you better results and allow you to build the relationships you need to ensure consistent success.  Plus, it’s much easier for a reporter to delete an email or send a quick “no” than it is to hang up on you.  When using the phone, leave one message only, and then continue to call the reporter at different times of the day (non-deadline times, of course) until you catch them live.  Once you have them on the line, it is much easier to make your case, as you can engage a reporter in a conversation and handle objections as they arise. 

Media relations are critical to an effective public relations plan.  It is important to develop a strong understanding of the media and how best to communicate with them.  Once you develop these basic – yet key – fundamentals, you will improve message adoption, which in turn will generate better results.

My first blog ever!!

24 01 2012

Here goes….I have never blogged and honestly never really read blogs so I’m jumping in a little blindly.

A little bit about me: I’m in my second semester of grad school, which I guess technically is like your sophomore year of college. So far, so good. I’m working on my masters in journalism with a focus on media relations. I spent a lot of time on the opposite side (in the media) and while I loved reporting, I got the feeling that media relations would ultimately be a better fit for me. Granted, I don’t know much about the field, so I’m hoping that I was right. 🙂

This blog will follow my revelations about the media relations field and things that I’ve found very helpful that I’ll pass along. If anyone has suggestions of useful info, let me know!