Written by Smoak PR

The Whats and Whys of Media Relations

What is media relations and why is it so important? No, it’s not a fancier, buzzier word for public relations. Media relations is quite possibly the most important aspect of what we PR professionals do daily. Read on to understand the nuances of this specialty and why it is so critically important to get it right.
Firstly, the basics: media relations is the practice of working with the media for the purpose of informing the public about a company and what they do. By media, we’re referring to those that actually produce the news — producers, writers, editors, bloggers, and others who work in a variety of outlets such as print, TV, online, radio, and more. Reasons for sharing information about an organization with the media include, but are not limited to; product launches, event announcements, company accolades, crisis management, local or community involvement, and other newsworthy topics.
As for why it’s critically important to get it right, you needn’t look any further than the bottom line. When a PR professional pitches a story about your company to the media and it’s deemed newsworthy, it earns the right to run for free, which is why they call it, “earned media” and not “paid media.” Paid efforts like billboards, TV, and radio are important to a good marketing mix. But earned media is the hardest working media that money can’t buy. It’s more credible because media outlets aren’t required to run an opinion editorial in the local paper, an informative column in the business section, or a captivating segment on the evening news. They can say no and they do say no if the story doesn’t check out, isn’t relevant, isn’t interesting, or smacks of fake news. When done right, media relations pieces are priceless third-party validation that moves customers down the funnel.
So how can you be sure it’s done right?
Rule 1: Make friends. Know each media contact intimately. Journalists are absolutely inundated with content that is not relevant. As PR professionals, it is our job to know who the correct writer or journalist is and craft specific pitches to fit their ‘beat’. By building relationships with the local media, we know exactly who to call to get our clients the earned coverage they deserve.
Rule 2: Run. Don’t walk. Social and digital media have completely changed the game when it comes to pushing out quality news coverage. Media professionals are working on tighter deadlines than ever before. Therefore, being able to communicate effectively and efficiently, being agile, and knowing how to shape content for relevance is mission critical.
You can’t pay for that incredible cover story or front page article. However, through strong relationships with media outlets, news organizations and business magazines, media relations can work impressively hard for you. As PR pros, we work to control and distribute content on behalf of the clients we diligently serve every day. Ultimately, success in this business is contingent on getting them the earned coverage and story headlines they want with the audience they deserve.

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