MEDIA Relations is simply defined as your relationship with the media. If used correctly, it can be one of the most effective ways of reaching your target audience. It can even change your target audience’s perception of your product, services, practice and policies.
Media is in the business of selling stories to their readers. So in addition to featuring hard core content on truthful facts and figures, they are also looking for content that can stimulate, entertain and interest their readers. As a business owner, your role is to educate the media about your product or service so that they are interested in featuring it in a story.
It is crucial for companies to build and manage relationships with the media to get the exposure that they want. One way is to maintain regular contact with the reporters who write about your industry and send them updates on your products or services. Likewise, reporters also know that they can rely on you for honest or any in-depth industry or product information you can provide them with.
Here are some helpful tips in managing a successful relationship with the media.
1. Know your reporters. Do your research and get to know the reporters and editors that cover your industry. Call the publication and enquire or read that publication to see which writer is covering your industry news. For instance, if you are pitching a story on a recent medical breakthrough, you should be contacting the reporter covering medical and health issues and not a financial reporter. Alternatively, you may also want to contact the lifestyle reporter by pitching the story from a lifestyle angle. It is possible to present different angles of the same story to reporters of different sections of the same publication or a different publication. Remember your goal is to maximize the coverage of your product or service. Keep in mind that if you have offered exclusivity to one publication, you must honor that or else you risk ruining your relationship with the media.
2. Offer to make comments or statements about current news that may be relevant to your products or services. If you are able to share an insight or expand on current affairs news, then this is your golden opportunity. Here is an example: In January this year, the Thai government embarked on a campaign announcing the importance of English language in the approaching Asean Economic Community (AEC) 2015. Wall Street Institute Thailand, an English language institute, took this opportunity to announce its new campaign in persuading Thais to recognize the importance of improving English skills for AEC. Furthermore, it announced its expansion plans to build two more language schools and to introduce specialized courses for using English in professional situations – all in line with the government’s objective.
3. Be a trustworthy and responsive source for media. If the media knows you are an expert in a certain field and if you have regularly provided articles and comments to them, they are most likely to call you for further information. Having you quoted in their article adds great credibility to you and your organization. Because the media works on tight deadlines, you must be able to respond to reporters’ queries and provide the information they want quickly. This is the only chance you have to build a relationship with them. Ask when their deadline is and get all the information. Remember that if you have promised to get back to them, you must do so and follow up.
It takes time to build and cultivate relationships with the media, and in the same way, it takes time for the media to trust in you and your credibility. Remember that media relations is not advertising and you should not attempt to hard sell to reporters. Offering yourself as a credible source and showing how a product or service is going to improve or have an impact in daily life will likely get the media’s attention.