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Making Media Relationships Work

03 March 2017

In this glorious age of technology and connectivity, there are those who argue that being too connected is making relationships suffer. It is so easy now to press a button or two, and believe that you are communicating with the recipients of your messages, but is this actually the case? 

In the world of PR, at Bridge, we have seen technology increasingly taking over some of the tasks that in the old days would have taken days to complete. Yes, days! Now these tasks can be done in minutes. It’s actually not that long ago when we would write a press release, get the necessary client approvals, and then send the release out via snail mail. Just imagine! 

In those days, media relations were conducted via face to face meetings (remember the long boozy lunches) with a lot of telephone contact in between and thus solid relationships were built.

Then along came email, which changed the landscape dramatically. A quick press of button and your press release could be distributed instantly to multiple publications. 

As technology advancements increased, along came the CD ROM.  This meant that press databases could be sent out to PR agencies, which were updated with information monthly. This evolved into press databases on cloud platforms, and the whole media distribution process became almost fully digitised.

This is one area of digitisation where the job of the PR might well have been made easier, but it also gave a lot of room for laziness and complacency to develop too.  And in this case, relationships between PRs and editors and journalists did suffer. One of the biggest things that irritates editors and journalists now is the constant bombardment they face every day, which has a knock-on effect as getting coverage becomes harder for the PRs as they then have to be heard above all that noise. 

But for those of us who’ve been around for a while, and who stick to the foundation principles in marketing and PR, we recognise that everything about what we do is still based on relationships – with our clients, with our staff, and, of course, with our media.  It is easy to press a button to distribute releases and feature articles when you are stretched for time with deadlines to meet, but how much nicer and much more satisfying it is to pick up the phone to an editor or journalist you have developed a good relationship with and have a discussion.  Even nicer, is when you have the opportunity to have a get together to put the world of media to rights. 

So what makes for good media relations? 

  • This may seem very obvious, but your press release or article needs to be targeted and focused. The good publications help with this by regularly sending out Forward Features where they are focusing on particular topics or issues in a future edition. This is great for planning any editorial content.
     
  • Spend time connecting with editors and journalists and understanding what it is they are looking for. They are all individuals and have their pet likes and pet hates and just like in any relationship there will be give and take.
     
  • Share knowledge and information. Trends and issues move so quickly that editors and journalists are always looking ahead for what’s coming next. If you know your industry sector well, you can help with the trend spotting.
     
  • Magazines have had a difficult time shifting what they do in order to embrace digital. Their staffing levels have been cut to the bone because of loss of advertising revenues, which has had an impact on how they operate. If you do have a budget for advertising, then work with the editors to produce advertorials. (On this point, we always advocate being selective with your advertising and keeping it aligned with your marketing strategy and content plan).
     
  • And finally, show your appreciation. Magazines needs the exposure too, so do share any releases or articles they have published on your social platforms and tag the publication. This is a win/win/win for everyone.

At Bridge, we invest a lot of time and energy in developing media relations on behalf of our clients. And because we are highly focused on our industry sectors, we have our finger on the pulse in relation to what is happening and trending. We make a point of picking up the phone, having face to face meetings, and supporting our media friends and colleagues wherever we can.  And we appreciate what they do for us in return. 

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