Communications/ public relations professionals craft the perfect message, and then turn to bloggers/ journalists to cover the story in some shape of form, that is the very bare bones of media relations. Wikipedia defines media relations as, “Media relations involves working with 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.”
Here Are Four Tips To Better Media Relations:
1. Identify the appropriate media contacts.
Journalists typically cover “beats,” or specific topics, for a given publication. Read through a newspaper or blog to find stories that are similar in content to stories you may want to pitch to someone. For example, you may want to find the person who writes about technology, finance, and/or the person who manages event listings. Consider whether or not this writer and their publication are credible and reach your target audience—is a blogger more effective than a newspaper journalist?
2. Track media contacts and publications.
As you research these questions, track the stories they report so that you can tell what interests them and respond to stories, if applicable to your goals. If, for instance, you read an article about community pools open during the summer, you may want to follow up with information about pool safety classes. The writer may publish a follow-up or update the story, depending on the outlet and media type.
The best way to store the information you collect is in a media list, which includes reporters’ names, contact information and preferred method of contact, beat, and publication information. By keeping all of your sources together, you can be ready at a moment’s notice.
3. Contact media directly.
The most effective way to engage media professionals is to contact them directly, e-mail, by phone (if they are open to that) or in some cases, through social media, such as Twitter. This allows you to develop a personalized message about why your story will be a good fit for their publication. Since your press release is facts-driven, it can be helpful to use a story of a person affected by the public health issue to show how these facts are important.
4. Tailor your materials for each circumstance.
Not every situation requires a full press release. Upcoming events or press conferences might be better served by a media advisory, a truncated release that outlines who, what, when, where, why, and how. Unlike a press release, a media advisory doesn’t read like an article, but rather a bulleted list or an invitation. Other times, a verbal or e-mail “pitch” will suffice. This method may be used for proposing an interview with an organizational leader or community member or when you want to work with the press to develop a story. Of course, you’ll want to properly prepare for this by creating talking points for those speaking and/or being interviewed.