By Polly Winograd Ikonen, LCI
Even as the communications sector has expanded to include social media channels, blogs, virtual events and more, media relations has remained – and will remain – a cornerstone of any smart MarComm strategy. Why is that? Because even in a world beleaguered by truth wars, news matters. Reporting by professional (and even quasi-professional) journalists has significant sway over public opinion and consumer behaviors.
With that in mind, here are five of our top pro tips for a successful media relations program in 2022:
Building trust with journalists is key to your success in media relations. That doesn’t necessarily mean wining and dining them, but it does mean doing your homework. Familiarize yourself with their reporting, be responsive when they call you, be respectful when you call them and provide rock-solid information. It can be useful to use social channels (Twitter, LinkedIn) to connect with reporters, but make sure that’s just the starting point, not your only contact with them.
Make sure that’s what you’re offering. Before you even pick up the phone or draft an email to a reporter, make sure that the information you’re providing actually constitutes something worth writing about – and answers the journalist’s first question “why would my readers care about this?” Not every idea your client has will meet that criterion, and it’s part of your job to help them understand that distinction, so you’re not wasting everyone’s time.
When you finally have some real news to share, make sure you’re providing solid information to the media, not just opinions or half-truths. Anticipate what they’ll want to know and put it in the press release upfront. Go easy on the adjectives – let them do the editorializing, not you. If the reporter asks a question you’re not prepared to answer, don’t fake it. Tell them you want to make sure you’re getting it right and will follow up. Then do that.
Make reporters’ jobs easier.
It’s no secret that news organizations are running on tight margins, with reduced staffing and almost zero fact-checking. The more of their work you can do for them – providing easy access to interviewees, online downloadable visuals, quick and reliable fact-checking – the more they’ll want to work with you.
Pay attention to the news cycle.
It’s always fun to “newsjack” by connecting your story to the current cycle (LCI has a great example tying National Nurse Week to a royal birth). However, the news cycle can also work against you. If all the reporters in your sector are covering a major summit meeting, don’t try to pitch them anything else that week. Elections, sports events, industry conferences and even major holidays might be something to avoid, unless you can cleverly find a way to newsjack them.
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