Maintaining strong media relationships is an essential part of any effective public relations plan. However, the key isn’t just seeking coverage — it’s building relationships.
Here are seven best practices to foster a new media relationship that will be mutually beneficial — and, hopefully, generate coverage for your brand.
Solidify digital credentials
Just like a potential employer or client, those in the media will look up a source online to determine whether he or she is a legitimate expert in the field.
It’s important for PR pros to create a digital presence that showcases an expert’s knowledge. Begin by launching a blog and composing thoughtful, high-quality articles. Seek out guest-posting opportunities in reputable industry publications. Consider creating a podcast or video series that people can share on social media.
To maximize accessibility, ensure the site contains contact information and an “about” page that highlights background, interests, areas of expertise, and media coverage. Create a media kit that contains relevant information regarding services and products provided in one location. That way, journalists or content producers can easily find it.
Clean up bios on social sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and showcase expertise. You should also make sure these experts have a professional social media handle and headshot.
Create a targeted contact list
Decide which audiences to reach out to: the general public, a national or local audience, or a niche within a specific industry.
Once you cull this list, research the authors, journalists, or editors with whom you want to establish a relationship. Ideally, these are the people who cover the targeted industry. By doing this, you can also familiarize yourself with their tone, philosophy, or lead times.
Become a reader and distributor of the influencers on the list. By following and interacting with them on social media, you can start building a relationship with them.
Perfect the pitch
Fine-tune your pitch before you begin any outreach. A strong pitch should be clear, concise, unique, and customized. Make sure it doesn’t appear to be part of a mass email campaign. Explain why the topic has value and provide back-up links that help make the case. Bullet points and infographics are perfect for quickly getting your point across.
Don’t call media connections throughout the day – this can be very annoying. Start a conversation on social media by congratulating an individual on a promotion or acknowledging a recent story he or she covered. Share the person’s work on social media. Offer suggestions for future stories he or she could cover, or reliable sources he or she should talk to.
Connect the media person with the source by giving a shout-out on social media or sending an introduction via email.
And always send the pitch via email, as more than 90% of journalists reported that email is their preferred method of pitching.
Focus on the editor’s interests
If there’s one lesson you should take from this, it’s this: It’s all about the editor’s needs.
After conducting research, refining the pitch, and establishing the relationship, it’s time to go in for the hard sell. For this to be effective, though, be honest about what the angle is and why the editor should be interested.
Meet face to face
Time is arguably the most valuable resource, so scheduling an in-person meeting may not be feasible — especially when those in the media have hard deadlines to meet. However, once a rapport has been established, it doesn’t hurt to request a face-to-face meeting.
If you are successful in setting up a meeting, your agenda should be nothing more than simply saying hello and developing a rapport. While it doesn’t guarantee anything, taking the time to invest in strengthening the relationship can help increase the chances of your pitches getting covered.
Don’t be discouraged if a contact doesn’t accept the request for a one-on-one sit-down. Consider hosting a networking event, and invite journalists, editors, and content producers to attend. If this is too costly, you can attend an event they are going to.
Remain accessible, and give good — and original — content
If a media personality shows interest in a story, respond as quickly as possible. This shows you are dependable and respectful of the journalist’s time.
Be as helpful as possible. Provide unique and original supporting materials, giving the journalist information not everyone has access to. This could include high-resolution images, a list of resources, or an expert column. You get bonus points if they share content such as an infographic or a video on social media.
This may seem like a lot of work up front, but these are tried-and-true ways to create a beneficial and long-lasting relationship with members of the media.