Media relations refers to the mutually benefiting relationship between a reporter and public relations or communications professionals.
What are Media Relations?
Media relations refers to the mutually benefiting relationship between a reporter and public relations or communications professionals for the purpose of informing the public of an organization’s mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner.
You can tell if a story is worth sharing because it will have at least one of seven characteristics.
Elements of News
- Proximity: It’s all about location. If an event is happening nearby, it will impact the audience more and be more relevant to report on.
- Prominence: A well-known person like a celebrity, place or event makes a story more newsworthy. A local person giving a talk on healthy lunches isn’t always news, but Michelle Obama talking to students about healthy lunches is.
- Timeliness: You have to get in front of the story. If it happened yesterday or a week ago, your story is most likely not newsworthy anymore.
- Unusual: When something is unique, shocking or bizarre, and which might have enough shock-value to make the story news.
- Impact: Readers want to know how a story will affect them. Will they suffer consequences from not hearing about it? Can their lives improve by reading the story?
- Human interest: This is a story that talks about people or even animals’ lives in an emotional way. It presents their problems, concerns or achievements in a way that invokes interest, sympathy or emotion.
- Conflict: It Is in our nature to gravitate toward conflict. Think about all the stories that are published because of an issue a customer has with a business or government officials disagreeing on policies.
Earned, Paid and Owned Media
A company can gain exposure and brand equity through earned, paid and owned media.
Earned media: Any material written about your company that you haven’t paid for or published yourself.
- Publicity from media
- TV news segment
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine articles
- Radio interviews
- Social media posts from other people
- Search engine optimization
- Word of mouth
Paid media: A marketing channel that you pay for to increase traffic, brand equity and sales.
- Display ads
- Social media ads
- Search engine marketing
- Offline ads
Owned media: Any material that you create and control
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Email marketing
What is a Media Pitch?
A media pitch is simply a description of a potential story and explanation of why it matters to a news outlet. A pitch can be done:
- Verbally: You would use this method when you’re at a deskside meeting or if you are on staff pitching to an editor.
- Email: When pitching a story through email, be concise.
- Make sure you include that you’re available to follow up with more information and thank them for their time and consideration.
- Make sure you write an interesting yet relevant subject line.
- Set deskside meetings (virtual or in person)
- These meetings are just a conversation to get to know and learn about the reporter and the types of stories his or her outlet does.
- These meetings don’t have to be all business. Remember, you’re building a relationship, so be yourself and have some fun in addition to learning about their news outlet.
- Learn and live by the deadlines
- Reporters have strict print and production deadlines. Ask them how far in advance they need pitches and story submissions, what their print/production deadlines are and what time they receive assignments each morning.
- All of these answers will help you to time your pitches and story submissions perfectly and increase your odds of getting a story picked up.
- Pitch within guidelines
- Some reporters may want a few sentences on what the story is and why it matters, others may want a press release and still some might want you to help provide sources and contact information.
- This changes from outlet to outlet and reporter to reporter. This is why media relations is all about building relationships.
Personalize Your Pitch
- Pitch to the right person
- Don’t just pitch to the publication as a whole or to all of the reporters at the outlet.
- Don’t send the same pitch to every source
- It is vital that you shape your pitch to fit the outlet you’re pitching to. Find out what information each outlet likes included in pitches.
- This is one of the most important aspects of media relations.
- Sending a follow-up email to make sure the outlet saw your pitch, statement, media advisory or press release can be the make or break in whether your organization gets coverage.
- Be friendly and persistent, but don’t overwhelm or overload the reporter.
- If you have an event coming up, make sure you follow up media advisories with chase calls.
- This is where you call a news outlet and ask if they plan on sending someone out to cover your event. A lot of times, media advisories get missed or forgotten. Calling to politely ask if they plan on attending can remind them of the event or encourage them to come. If they say they are too busy to attend, as happens with smaller stations or during busy weeks, ask if they would like a press release, photos or information so they can still easily cover the story.
Measure Your Success
- There are many ways to measure your success. Set your goals ahead of time and determine what will make your media relations efforts a success.
- Did the story get picked up?
- What was the media value?
- Was the client portrayed in a positive light?
Media inquiries are when journalists request information, quotes or interviews from your company or spokespeople. Having an agency of record is a good idea for companies. Agencies vet media inquiries, learn more about the request, help you avoid being put on the spot, avoid and handle crises, help write quotes and responses, and prep you for interviews. You can direct media to your agency of record to respond to the inquiries.
Keep in Mind
Reporters typically work on tight deadlines. Delaying media requests by a day or even a few hours can be the difference between having positive coverage or a missed opportunity.