5 Top Tips for Effective Media Relations

The media might be vast and ever changing but the fundamentals are the same as ever. Success depends on strong relationships and you shouldn’t rely on email distribution lists and cold calls. Colin Kelly shares some thoughts… 

  1. Think before you send.

Every communication you have with a journalist – every press release, every email, every phone call…will either enhance or diminish your reputation in their eyes. Before you get in touch, put yourself in the journalist’s shoes and consider whether what you’re going to talk to them about actually has any value to THEM, or is it just something your boss wants you to push?

  1. Build a true relationship.

If you only speak to journalists when you have a story to ‘sell’ or something you want them to do, that’s not really a relationship. And it means they have all the power. They think you need them and you’ll have to put up with whatever they give you. A true relationship is balanced and more equal where you both work together as fellow communications professionals and the journalist respects you and wants to help you, because you do the same for them.

  1. Maintain your own database.

The big name software products are distribution systems are great but they might not also be available. What if you change jobs or start your own agency one day? Cultivate your own relationships with journalists. Your contacts book, Linkedin network, Twitter followers or even mobile phone contacts should be an asset that belongs to you and travels with you. You can’t do that if you’re relying entirely on a company subscription to a database. Ideally, you should have both.

  1. The story is the key.

Getting to know journalists makes a real difference but above all, the greatest currency you have are the stories you can tell. Without them, you don’t have much to offer. Keep in mind your idea of a good story and a journalist’s might be poles apart so if your boss is asking you to put out ‘news’ you know is weak, work with them and see if you can toughen things up a bit or find a better, more newsworthy story to tell instead.

  1. Pictures with everything.

The National Union of Journalists says a newspaper is 30% more likely to run a story with a picture. With the rise of online, even some radio producers are now thinking about the visual elements. Some industries will find it easy to come up with striking visuals…for others, it’s tougher. Well produced infographics might help.

Colin Kelly is a CIPR trainer who teaches Effective media relations, Getting to grips with social media, Writing better press releases and more. 

Image courtesy of flickr user Obama White House

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