Similar to many parts of PR, the relationship between media members and communicators is constantly evolving. Moreover, this relationship is crucial to the survival of our industry—you could argue that PR pros need media members more than they need us.
Unfortunately, media personnel are finding increasingly less value coming through their inbox from PR pros. If nothing changes, publishers, editors and journalists will simply turn off the tap. As a result, it’s our responsibility to give media members what they need: a less-is-more, powerful pitch approach.
To contextualize why it’s the PR pro's duty to proactively equip media members with fitting, fleshed-out, valuable stories, we need merely look at journalism's landscape.
While many media outlets reduced staff for the past 20 years, some began offering thought-leadership space to industry executives. In cases where these experts pay for visibility, the publishing outlet is doubly incentivized. The publisher saves money on staff writers or freelancers and gains revenue from thought leaders.
Accordingly, fewer journalists are needed. In addition, they tend to operate with small budgets. Reporters need our support, and we cannot exist without theirs.
So, how can we support media friends while securing meaningful coverage for companies we represent? Here are some starting points:
Leverage Your Skill Set
Develop impactful messages that communicate core values. Ideate multifaceted storylines or news angles. Ask mission-critical questions and media-train executives while building comprehensive FAQs. This constructs a veritable treasure trove of valuable (and branded) information to strategically position executives as useful sources.
Know Your Targets While Building Media Lists
When building relationships, don’t rely solely on a journalist's byline bio—dig deeper across platforms. Research personal social accounts to better understand their beat(s), interests, tone and style. This extra effort to personalize and provide value through your pitches goes a long, long way.
Never Spam, Blast or Over-Pitch
Pitching and praying will tarnish your (and your company's) reputation. Moreover, it will hinder relationships with journalists you should be nurturing. Remember, journalists are people with a documented interest in certain topics, trends or industries. Tailor every communication point accordingly, and make sure you research before pressing 'Send.'
Offer Completed Posts and Comprehensive, Multimedia Storytelling Elements
If your goal is to get a company's message to appropriate audiences in a way that best reflects the business, there’s no rule saying you cannot craft the final copy. Partnering with the press sometimes means assisting in drafting and polishing content on deadline.
Train Yourself and Staff in Journalistic Writing
Some colleges no longer coach students adequately on this side of the media-coverage fence. As a result, a commitment to storytelling excellence must come at the industry level. So, insist on excellence in writing. For example, you might consider having an in-house editor and a copywriter touch every external-facing communication.
The future of our profession means proactively partnering with the press if we have any hope of keeping the PR industry alive. We must remain the conduit between companies and the media if we intend to tell their stories effectively and scalably.
So, be thoughtful about media relations. Prioritize relationship-building equally with closing coverage. In addition, establish future-forward best practices that challenge peers to rise alongside us.
Nicole Rodrigues is CEO & founder, NRPR Group