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Engage Yourself: Media Relations Key to Today’s News Landscape

Media relations has come a long way, but in my book, it is still an art to master in the PR profession.  The state of media relations has evolved over the years and taken on a holistic role in today’s 24-hour non-stop news cycle.

As PR professionals, we have learned how to negotiate through all the noise and traffic to stay relevant and current in anticipation of the next story.

The traditional way of doing media relations involves the act of picking up the phone and actually having a conversation with reporters. These tactics are still an effective and crucial part of building relationships with the press and go hand-in-hand with today’s social media trends of getting the news. At the end of the day, getting to know a reporter and sharing story ideas and interests expands our role as PR professionals to be credible and reliable sources of information. 

The plethora of social networking sites has undoubtedly changed how we interact with the media. However, establishing genuine relationships with the press is imperative. We need reporters to write a balanced and accurate story. Reporters need to trust us to be their source of true facts and data.

Bottom line, the art of media relations lies in forging a clear communications channel with the press to ensure that we, the PR pro and journalists from mainstream, alternative, multicultural or community outlets, have a positive outcome. After all, a great story is what we’re all aiming for.  

The art of media relations
With the fast pace in which news travels via social media platforms, some might wonder how important media relations really is. Does the art of media relations still hold true today when many PR pros are releasing news and information via Twitter, Facebook or virtual interaction?  Without question, I say yes. Media relations is still important and I consider it to be our power tool to tell the story. Despite the hyper-growth of social media and digital platforms by which people get news and information, the practice of media relations remains critical in our industry for several reasons. One very important reason--without meaningful relationships and trust with journalists, producers, editors, bloggers, and the like, it would be impossible to generate the positive exposure we seek for our clients. I encourage my peers and colleagues, seasoned or not, to make a concerted effort to ramp up your media relations engagement through more personal and engaging approaches. That means talk (not just email, text, or tweet) to reporters. Whether you have a story to pitch or not, this relationship-building tactic should be carried out as often as possible to strengthen connections and start building rapport. 

Building rapport with the media 
Engaging with reporters can’t be done in isolation. Forging relationships with the media include the press that covers a variety of issues from multiple perspectives. Aiming to integrate various platforms, print and digital, in our efforts is also a must. It’s about going beyond the networking, following up to get to know the reporter, and providing the knowledge. This is even more critical when it comes to multicultural media platforms that have evolved exponentially and continue to do provide in many languages, valuable news coverage from business and entertainment to pop culture and what’s trending. Don’t leave them out of your media relations strategy. 

Here are a few tactics I suggest to make sure media relations is integrated in your efforts:
•    Research the reporter’s work, know their hub
•    Provide exclusive news and content when you can
•    Always tailor your pitch. There’s so much information out there, be sure your pitch stands out from the rest. The cookie cutter pitch still doesn’t work!
•    Know the deadlines. They are different in this 24-hour news cycle 
•    Pick up the phone and go meet the reporter personally. Get out of the office!

Multicultural media relationships are central to today’s news landscape
While traditional PR models still work, they have to be combined with digital platforms. We interact and engage with influencers, bloggers, and journalists. Then, there’s the danger of the internet with “fake news” flooding the landscape. The interaction on digital platforms moves so quickly that audiences are constantly being bombarded with poorly-curated information that can ultimately create a crisis for a brand or client. As media relations experts, we must always be a step ahead of providing proof, data, and evidence to the journalists who strive to get the truth through the relationships we build. 

Everything evolves and grows. Just like we need to know our audience, we also have to acknowledge that reporters do still need us to help them write the stories with legitimate information. The next time you want to engage with a reporter, pick up the phone, make that call, and go meet them. 

Copyright 2017 by Public Relations Tactics. Reprinted with permission from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA.org)

Comunicad has been leading the conversation on Hispanic PR for more than 25 years.