With a decline in print media, an increase in media partnerships and a rise in content marketing, there are some who will tell you that communicators rely too heavily on building rapport with reporters.
We now have an ecosystem of bloggers, influencers, social media celebrities and online publications that can just as easily write up a story.
These new media providers may be revolutionising communications, but ‘old-fashioned’ media relations skills still have their place and are well worth the time and energy invested. A relationship has to be built before a journalist will pay attention to you, and sending a generic media release to a journalist's already overcrowded inbox is definitely not the way to go about it.
It’s well known that journalists (like most people) are more inclined to get back to someone, or pick up the phone for someone they actually like as a person – certainly more so than for a faceless, media release–producing robot.
So how do you go about forging and cultivating strong working relationships with journalists?
Choosing your media partner
Do your research, read the news, understand what the media are writing about and what interests them. By following their work you have a better chance of pitching the right story to the right person, and appealing to their sweet spot or even tweaking their interests. So hit the decks and scope out which journalists are most relevant for you, or your client base.
If you’ve been building your relationship online for too long with your journalist of choice, it might be time for a first meeting – inviting your friendly media contact out for a cup of coffee can place the power of familiarity behind your next pitch, meaning your name will stand out in a crowded inbox.
A first meeting
Make it easy for your media partner to get to know you – journalists are notoriously busy, so be sure to work with their schedules the first time you meet. And when you go, be prepared. What was their last article about? What is their writing style? Show the journalist you have done your research.
A media relationship guru
If your colleagues see that you’ve got good relationships with key media, they are likely to recognise you as the go-to for your company or agency’s media relations. They'll see that having you at an event, or pitching a story, will ensure those journalists have a better experience, and will be more receptive.
Going the distance
As PR professionals, we are ‘the middleman’ between our clients and the people who will tell their story, so getting to know the media and forging a strong working relationship will make your job a whole lot easier.
It’s important to remember that relationships between communications teams and the media are still important despite changes in the media landscape.