Successful public relations (PR) professionals and the organizations they represent today understand the importance of building solid relationships with the media, and many have made it a core component of their business growth strategy. And why not? Media relationships can provide an effective means of promoting key messages to target audiences and dramatically accelerate the distribution of important information, especially during times of crisis.
It is a trademark of today’s “relationship economy.” Forward-thinking PR professionals are adopting a proactive stance in building these powerful relationships and putting a framework in place for the distribution of critical information before they need it.
However, navigating the modern media landscape can be tricky if you are doing it for the first time. It is a volatile environment in a perpetual state of flux, roiling with new innovations in technology and new methods of distribution and delivery.
To ensure that you are going about the process of building these relationships in a way that leads to long-term success, let’s explore the advantages of these relationships below and demonstrate how you can begin making meaningful connections with key media resources.
The term “media” simply refers to a channel of communication that carries your message. Traditional media channels include radio, broadcast television, newspapers, and billboards. However, the definition of media evolved dramatically when the Internet went mainstream in the 1990s and sparked the explosive growth of “new media,” a.k.a. digital media.
Digital media refers to any type of media distributed via digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. Digital media has many advantages over traditional media. It is a more dynamic, interactive, and engaging form of media that has become very appealing to audiences. What made digital media such a game-changer in the media world is that tools like emails, blogs, and social media platforms provided people, including journalists, with the ability to share their messages with people across the globe.
Media professionals can use their networks and social media platforms to communicate their stories and messages to vast audiences almost instantaneously. Organizations and their PR representatives can use this to their advantage, but it is imperative that they invest the proper time and energy into cultivating these crucial relationships before they are in a position where they need to quickly distribute critical information to the public. In a nutshell: Build them before you need them.
Here are two major advantages of building a network of strong media relationships.
Over 90% of journalists today believe that misinformation has become a serious problem in the U.S., meaning that stories and pitches are often vigilantly scoured and analyzed to confirm their accuracy. Therefore, when a reputable media channel publishes your story or message, it is a massive boost to your or your clients’ credibility and can often lead to greater levels of trust from consumers. This is something to consider in a market where over half of consumers say they would pay more to purchase from brands that they trust.
When an organization’s name is mentioned in the media, it enhances the visibility of its brand in the marketplace significantly. When an organization gets mentioned in the media, it is considered a form of earned media—a type of media that you don’t pay for. In fact, earned media opportunities can be equally, if not more, effective than paid advertising with over 90% of consumers trusting earned media more than they trust paid advertising.
Modern relationships with the media are not exclusively about what you want to achieve. To optimize the value of these relationships, they must be mutually beneficial. In other words, you must have something valuable and relevant to offer. Before blindly reaching out to influential media sources, develop a compelling reason for them to sit up and take notice!
Here are a few steps you can take:
Some journalists receive as many as 100 pitches a week, according to the new PRM on the block, Propel, and most of these pitches are entirely irrelevant so it is imperative that you communicate the value of a relationship with your clients. One strategy is to show them that you can provide easy access to interesting stories related to your industry and represent a leading voice in the field you are pitching. Oftentimes, that means formulating a pitch that showcases you or your client as a thought leader in your industry.
Research Before Reaching Out
It is vital that you research the backgrounds of media contacts before you reach out to them. Understand what areas they cover (especially their target audiences) so you can present relevant viewpoints. For example, if the media contact you are pursuing covers investments and new trends in finance, do not approach them with a story about HR software.
Think Beyond Email
While email is a common method used in making new media connections, social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn continue to reign as the fastest method of reaching key members of the media. Journalists and media contacts will also often frequent industry events, tradeshows and conferences in the areas they cover.
The best news is that media professionals are looking to build new connections in their covered industries. Do your research and be proactive about developing new relationships. Be prepared with something unique to offer journalists and watch your media network flourish.
If your organization is serious about building a network of media connections, there are many advantages to tapping into the expertise of a PR firm, especially if you’re new to building relationships with the media. Partnering with these firms gives you access to their vast network of media connections and can be a remarkable way to get introductions.