media update’s Taylor Goodman unpacks three things that PR pros can do to build and foster positive media relations. 

When it comes to the dynamics between PR practitioners and the media, their roles are rather complementary. Both teams work towards developing and maintaining a narrative that strives to keep readers interested and informed. 

Despite these teams, in theory, having to work towards the same goal, there are some things that can cause tension between these two professionals. For example, PR pros may feel frustrated if journalists are constantly ignoring their emails. Or, if they do pick up their pitch, take it in an entirely unexpected direction. 

On the other side of the coin, journalists may get easily annoyed with PR pros when they find their inboxes flooded with identical pitches on a daily basis. So, how can these two get along? Well PR pros, it’s your time to shine! You do work in communications, after all.

Here are three measures PR practitioners can put in place to forge better relationships with the media: 

1. Familiarise yourself with the journalist’s work

One of the consistent pieces of advice that journalists give to PR practitioners is to do their research on publications before pitching to them. 

Why? Well, 80% of journalists believe communication professionals should learn more about a media outlet before they pitch.

This is because, if PR pros had to research a journalist before sending through their press releases, they would have more insight into that reporter’s beat and what they like to write about. Additionally, they could get a handle on what the publications focus on, and would therefore know to only send the most relevant content regarding their focus.

These insights are valuable to both the PR practitioner and the journalist because if the journalist is getting press releases that contain valuable information, they are more likely to be interested in that PR professional’s pitches and ideas going forward. This is great news for the PR pro, as this means that their content has a better chance of getting published and the journalist will also be keener to do Q&As and attend any events or workshops.

Going the extra mile to research who you’re pitching to shows that you’re not just casting your net out to whatever may bite, but rather that you respect the journalists' time and aim to provide high-quality content to the relevant parties. 

A good way to keep track of certain journalist’s interests is, if you have a media list, to add notes under the respective journalist’s name, the publication they work for and the kind of content they write about as well as what they focus on. This effort will go a long way in building lasting relationships with the media. 

2. Pay attention to the finer details when pitching 

When sending out a press release via email, the finer details can make or break your pitch. 

This is because paying attention to the little things creates an all-round better experience for the reader, increasing their perception that your content is reliable and trustworthy. 

For example, if your press release is filled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or inaccurate information, the reader will deem the content unreliable. 

Before sending out a press release, make sure you do the following:
  • Triple check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Ensure that you’re sending your press release to the relevant journalists, as discussed above.
  • Ensure that you are sending your press releases out at an appropriate time. The best time to send press releases out is between Monday afternoon and Thursday morning.
  • Try and avoid sending emails out on Fridays, as this increases the likelihood of your emails getting lost in the recipients inbox and your emails being unanswered.
 Paying attention to the finer details proves that you put in the extra effort to produce high-quality content and are willing to put in the work to make the working with the journalist as smooth as possible. 

3. Be honest and transparent — always 

Honesty and transparency are important when building media relations because it helps you to build trust with the journalist, building your reputation as a practitioner with integrity. 

When writing press releases it is crucial that the PR pro avoids ‘fluff’, and sticks to the facts of the story. By sticking to the facts, you prove to journalists that you do not need to embellish a story to get it to sell, but you can rather do so in a way that is honest and forthcoming.

Being transparent with the media will also benefit PR pros in the event of a crisis. This is because being transparent with the media equals being transparent with the public, and this is one of the most effective ways to rebuild trust if it takes a hit after a PR disaster. 

Being honest in times of crisis builds up your brand image because it shows that your brand can take accountability for any wrongdoing, and is willing to do what it takes to rebuild that trust. 

As a PR pro, what do you do to ensure that your relationship with the media is prosperous? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Want to know more about how to impress a journalist with a top notch press release? Then be sure to check out Three tips for writing a killer press release headline here
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy