Cassie Gonzalez

Maintaining the R in PR: Media Relations Done Right

By: Cassie Gonzalez | May 30, 2018 | 
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Media RelationsThink for a moment about your best friends. Then think about how and why they became your best friends.

These are the people you can count on to help you in times of need. These are also the same people who can count on you to be there for them.

More often than not, genuine relationships are built on two things: common interests and value.

These are the two essential components of building your trusted media relations list, also known as “media besties,” that you can call upon on to help spread your organization’s message to the public.

Find Your People

The first step in building your list of trusted media relations list is to identify journalists you can provide real value to.

Ask yourself:

Can I provide this individual with the sources and information they need to be able to tell great stories?

Determine your top journalist choices and look for alignment between your organizational goals, the journalist’s specific coverage, and the outlet’s focus.

It is also important that you constantly update the research you conduct and your “media bestie” database.

Journalists often change beats and outlets, so you don’t want to waste time with a misplaced query around something they no longer are interested in or cover.

One way to avoid this pitfall is by submitting stories and queries through pitch platforms.

These services (full disclosure, I work with OnePitch) typically send formatted pitches via email to journalists from top outlets such as Forbes, Engadget, Fast Company, and Wall Street Journal.

These journalists have opted-in to receive pitches based on their specific coverage preferences.

And they contact the communicator directly to pursue a story and most importantly, a mutually beneficial working relationship.

Make Your Media Relations Social

In this day and age, it would be naive to think that a journalist would become a true “media bestie” after just one exchange, even if it does provide them value.

Truly genuine media relations take time to build through some touch points and must be nurtured just like any other relationship. It’s a long play.

One method of relationship building often overlooked is social media engagement; specifically, on Twitter.

Haje Jan Kamps, CEO, TriggerTrap says:

Twenty-five percent of Twitter’s verified users are actually journalists.

Taking a few moments to follow your favorite journalists on Twitter and periodically sharing their content is a subtle but effective reminder of previous interactions the journalist had with you.

This also builds credibility with your contacts, along with other journalists, when you share relevant industry news or stories related to a specific industry.

Check in to Say “Hi”

Just as you’d want your friends to talk to you outside of when they need something from you, don’t underestimate the power of a friendly email or social message to say hello.

Some ideas to help break the ice?

Congratulate them on a recent award, or send articles relevant to their interests, or provide a thoughtful comment on one of their recent articles.

These are all ways to start a conversation.

The key is you aren’t expecting anything in return. You’re not leading with a question or a favor, nor are you finishing off with one.

This is a friendly social call to further build on your relationship.

Occasionally, sending a quick message that is NOT work related can help build rapport. And it will keep the journalist from cringing at the thought of opening yet another email from you.

Now, when you do have a favor to ask, the journalist is more likely to respond and oblige.

Ask “How Can I Help You? ”

Any relationship (working or personal) that feels one-sided is one that will quickly burn out.

A good communicator must understand that a journalist’s job is to serve their audience. It’s not to serve the communicator or the brand they are working with.

Those people and organizations are coming to you because you are amazing at your job.

You’ve built strong relationships with the right people. And as a result, when you do need to plant a seed, your efforts to date will ensure it’s fruitful.

A journalist may take into consideration the angle you present, but ultimately, it’s up to them and their editorial team. They’ll determine how to present your product or service to fit the needs of their readers.

Your relationship and the value you bring to it go a long way in determining how the conversation, and the pitch, turn out.

An easy way to make sure you approach a journalist with the right sources and the best way to present them is to simply ask.

Ask them which stories they’re working on and if there’s anyone you can connect them with.

This gives them the power to tell you exactly what they need, when, and how they need it.

Tanisha Sykes from USA Today told us:

Answer what you are being asked to do. Time is of the essence for a journalist.

What she means is, when you ask, and they tell, only give them what they are asking for. Literally.

This method also saves you the time of trying to develop mind-reading powers and pitching completely irrelevant content.

Say “Thank You”

Over time, we forget the golden rule of treating others as you wish them to treat you.

Use these steps to build solid media relations. Once you have that, it’s important to continue nurturing the relationship (see tip regarding checking in to say hi).

Once the article publishes, send a “thank you” and you’ll make your new “media bestie” feel truly appreciated.

This provides a way to continue the conversation, further cement your relationship, and potentially discuss future media opportunities.

In the world of public relations, media relations is one of our most valuable assets.

By fostering genuine, human relationships, the savvy PR pro can build a trusted media relations list.

And that list will benefit the client, the media outlet, and most importantly the audience you are trying to reach.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

About Cassie Gonzalez


Cassie is the brand and community manager at OnePitch and handles everything from social media, to owned content, to events. She went to Colorado State University and studied business management with an emphasis in marketing. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, discovering new local food spots and spending time with her family.

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