Tips for Effective Media Relations

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A strong media relations strategy must incorporate consistent messaging, well-targeted media lists, newsworthy media pitches and compelling, well-written content. Creating a transparent relationship between a business and journalists is a crucial way to connect with the intended target audience.

Hosted by Digital Content Producer Todd Schnick and various Denim Marketing team members, The Marketing Thread is a series of short snackable videos released monthly discussing current marketing trends.

In this feature, Todd is joined by Denim Marketing Account Manager Mandy Holm to discuss the elements and topics used to improve media relations strategies.

Media Relations vs. Public Relations

Although many confuse the two and they are inherently intertwined, there are distinct differences between media relations and public relations. While media relations refers to formed connections between a company and news journalists, public relations refers to the relationships companies establish with the general public with the aid of media personnel. Either the company or the media are capable of initiating communication for both media and public relations.

Building a Media List

Building a media list is important to earn placements in relevant publications that are catered to a business’ specific niche. There are some important questions to ask when building a media list including:

  • Who is the brand’s target audience?
    • Do they prefer digital or print publications?
    • Do they consume publications published on a daily or monthly basis?
  • Are industry or consumer publications better?

Answering these questions helps with the decision of picking the right journalist to share the company’s content. Next, businesses should explore which journalists frequently cover appropriate topics related to the brand.

Keeping Lists Updated

Journalists and reporters are constantly moving publications or switching from freelance to regular contributor positions, and publications even change entirely or consolidate with other outlets, which causes change in the reporting world. It is essential to maintain updated media lists to ensure that despite changes, your business retains appropriate industry contacts.

Free + Paid Resources

At a loss for where to begin building those media lists? Fortunately, there are several options, both paid and free. Beyond sifting through newspapers, magazines and blogs, sign up as a source or reporter on HelpAReporter.com. Through daily emails, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects journalists and bloggers with relevant expert sources to meet journalists’ demanding deadlines and enable brands to tell their stories.

Examples of paid media directories include Cision and Mitch Leff’s Media Match, which help businesses easily search and filter for journalists based on content subject, type of publication, location and more. These databases deliver expertly curated journalists, outlets and other prime opportunities.

Understanding Journalists

Creating rapport with a journalist is one of the most essential tips for media relations. Burning bridges and cold calling are negative actions in the media relations world. Personalizing pitches with press releases is one way to build strong relationships with reporters. Researching and utilizing a publication’s editorial calendars found online also creates a more personable relationship with reporters.

Connecting with reporters on social media, specifically LinkedIn and Twitter, is one of the newest tips to follow when building media relations. Social media offers a powerful way to connect on a more personal level and ensure journalists recognize you as more than just a source. Utilize this connection and take note of the stories that interest them for future reference.

Add a Personalized Touch

Learning the format that each journalist prefers to receive pitches and news releases (i.e., as a text or PDF document or in the body of the email) is essential to cultivating effective digital correspondence. When the preferences and expectations of the journalist are respected, interactions are more likely considered. Among the many emails journalists regularly receive, messages from senders that take the time to tailor messages with a reporter’s preferences in mind stand out.

It’s also essential to be aware of the content that most interests the journalists on the media list. Find out if these journalists cover local or national topics to discern which individuals are interested in the local or large-scale news being pitched. Occasionally, some journalists from national publications show interest in local news and events if they are provided with all pertinent information from their trusted source.

Transparency is Key

Being transparent about the delivery is also important. When a journalist is promised to receive content by a certain time, it’s crucial to meet their expectations. If for some reason something falls through with a deadline, be honest about the situation and apologize. It’s important to avoid burning bridges and maintain clear, consistent communication.

A Good News Release + Pitch

A vital characteristic of successful media relations is a well-crafted news release and pitch. There are general media standards that most journalists expect in news releases, although some journalists are more flexible. Key questions to consider to determine the effectiveness of a news release and pitch:

  • Does the news release include a strong pitch to catch journalists’ attention?
  • Does the news release include a strong lead to capture the attention of readers?
  • Does the news release follow AP Style guidelines?
  • Does the news release provide supporting details in a concise manner?

These are elements that reporters might consider as they rule out sources to use. If the news release is well-written, some journalists may simply copy and paste the content, and news releases that follow industry standards by adhering to AP Style guidelines, demonstrate professionalism and establish trust with journalists.

Even the most seasoned writer can make simple grammatical or word-agreement errors. If a second set of eyes are not available to review content before posting or pitching, utilize online tools, such as Grammarly.com. This free tool even offers a browser extension to edit copy in real time and catch those small details that typical word processors might miss.

Do They Know You’re an Expert?

Because simply calling yourself an expert does not make you one, you must prove to journalists you know the industry. Demonstrate the business’ credibility and utilize its resources beginning with the website and blog. Share blog posts across social media channels where reporters are more likely to see this content. Establish a local presence and send the company’s content to the local Chamber of Commerce or local Patch sites.

Additionally, speak up and host webinars or video series on behalf of the business. Offer to speak at public events to share the business’ resources. Public speaking is an effective and memorable way to communicate information.

Implementing a strategic media relations strategy is essential for businesses to share news with local and national news outlets and publications. Consider partnering with the Denim Marketing team for media relations efforts. For more information, call 770-383-3360, ext. 20 or contact us.

Join Carol Morgan, Todd Schnick, Courtney Stewart and Mandy Holm for this free video series as they delve into topics guiding home builders and related companies toward marketing success. The Marketing Thread is a can’t-miss new series that promises to boost any marketing strategy with effective tips.

View all videos from The Marketing Thread on the Denim YouTube Channel.

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