Exactly What Is Media Relations?

At a recent event the CFM PR marketing team spoke at, I was surprised at some of the comments I received when I asked the question, “Does everyone know what media relations is?” There were a lot of “no” responses.

Media relations is building strategic relationships with various media for the purpose of informing the public of a company’s mission, policies and practices in a consistent and credible manner.

Sounds easier said than done.

While there are several outside factors that affect the way we communicate with the media, here are a few “best practices” of media relations today:

Know your brand.

You need to know what it is that makes your brand unique. This is going to be the selling point with the media.

Get to know your local editors.

Do some research on the editor you’re pitching before sending a one-off and hoping that you’ll get coverage. Offer to take the reporter or editor out to coffee to get to know them better, and get a little insight into their work on the journalist’s end.

Once you’ve introduced yourself to the media contact, stay on their radar. Send them links to information you think they would be interested for a story (of course this wouldn’t be information about your brand or product – at least not in the beginning stages of your relationship).

Keep up with the trends.

Ivy Lee, the founder of modern public relations, created the first press release in 1906. It is still a popular format for the traditional news release today; however, during the past few years, we’ve witnessed a shift toward a social media news release.

The social media news release is a release with embedded multimedia such as video and podcasts, and offers easy distribution through various channels such as social media and email. Some say it will continue to be influenced by the brevity and accessibility of social media. It’s a great way to communicate your brand’s message in a “social” way.

Find creative ways to connect with the media and get their attention.

With the state of the economy, newspaper and magazine staffs almost have been slashed in half during the past few years.. Newspapers aren’t as thick as they used to be, while many reporters’ job functions have increased. Reporters seem to be doing the job of three, while getting paid the same. The magazine industry is suffering. Many smaller publications have called it quits.

When CFM was hired by a local Pacific Northwest brand to launch a new product, we knew a creative media campaign was needed to get any traction with news coverage. We created “sample packs” of the new product, which included a sample of each of the each new flavors\, the news release, an informational piece of collateral on the product, free coupons for the product, as well as a tailored, handwritten pitch to each media target. The result was media coverage in each of our client’s desired markets, in addition to coverage in top national publications, such as Glamour.

Be genuine in your communications.

With our busy schedules, it’s an appealing option to blast out your press release with one click of a button. There’s a term for that: “robo-pitching.”

Even though it does save time, you may not get the same results as you would if you took the time to do genuine media relations. It does pay off in the long run if you take the extra time to do personalized, tailored, one-on-one media relations with your desired media targets.

Do you have good relationships with the media? How did you form those relationships? We’d love to hear your stories. Comment below.