Media relations, and the importance of being a journalist’s best friend: PT I

Welcome to my first Babel blog! Having recently joined the London team, I wanted to focus on a topic which I personally feel is one of the most important within our industry: media relations.

Why is media relations important?

I firmly believe that media relations should be at the heart of any PR agency, and a strong roster of journalist contacts is where an agency can really stand out from the crowd.

Securing the best coverage on a regular basis is a fine art, and building good relationships with press can be instrumental in achieving regular visibility in target publications.

So how can this be achieved? I think back to my university days, and the lecturer who taught PR told us: “The key to great PR is to combine three things: art, craft and science.”

As I was at the time, you may be reading this and thinking: what does this mean? But in essence it is quite straight forward.

Art: This is all around making PR ideas creative. By thinking outside the box, it becomes easier to make any client brief more exciting.

Craft: The art from the brief will ensure the craft – or execution – is original and effective

Science: This is having an understanding of the target audience, whilst making sure that outlets and journalists you communicate with are relevant

By applying this approach, PR professionals stand a far greater chance of engaging with journalists, and ultimately getting coverage in their target publications.

How is media relations changing?

Whilst traditional media relations is important, it’s not the be-all and end-all. In today’s social media, ‘always-on’ world, there are new opportunities to further media outreach across social platforms.

Many journalists have moved to Twitter in a quest to find commentary from industry experts as quickly as possible. In fact, one journalist at CNBC actually says, “please pitch me on Snapchat!”. This does not mean that there isn’t a place for traditional media relations techniques anymore, rather, there’s one more tool that PR professionals have to their disposal.

Some brands have taken note of this shift and taken things one step further by running inspiring campaigns involving social influencers, which some argue are almost as powerful as journalists. Working with influencers does have a reputation for being costly. However, many companies, especially in the B2B sector, have identified a list of micro-influencers – a group of people who are rapidly growing their follower base. Not only do micro-influencers offer a cost-effective way to reach new audiences, but their relevance and resonance will grow in tandem with the brands’ – a great way to grow a relationship with a third-party influencer.

Stay tuned for part two, with tips for building a ‘black book’ of contacts, and building effective relationships with the media…

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