What is media relations in public relations?

Robin Carr and journalists friends
Robin Carr, Landis Communications, Ann Killion sports journalist and author, Joan Ryan, journalist and author

By Robin Carr 

Publishing company Pressbooks defines media relations as “the mutually beneficial relationship between journalists and public relations professionals.” 

From a PR perspective, the media can be a terrific way to raise the profile of your company/client company and its products/services. And a big benefit for journalists is working with PR folks for presumably easy access to story ideas and sources. 

Several years ago, I attended a conference that was geared to both reporters and public relations professionals. During a session featuring a panel of newspaper editors, one award-winning editor matter-of-factly stated, “PR people and reporters should have an adversarial relationship.” 

This was not what I was taught as a PR major at San Jose State University, and I’ve worked hard to cultivate solid rapport with a wide variety of media.  

I worked in sports PR for 18 years; yet as I transitioned into other sectors (consumer, business, fashion, healthcare, technology), I also was able to get to know media from these areas. I discovered that my sports press contacts were helpful in introducing me to other media at their news outlets. If I needed to get to know the tech reporter at the NBC affiliate, I reached out to my sports media friends, who made the introduction.  

The great thing about PR is that the discipline is always evolving, changing. What else is always changing is the media. Last week it was announced that the print editions of Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, EatingWell, Health, Parents and People en Español would be eliminated in favor of online-only brands. Press has gone digital, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in a world of mobile technology. 

PR has had to adjust to the 24/7 media channels, and you can find most media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.  Media is being redefined via the internet. 

With 24/7 media, you need to stay even more aware of the news, as well as what is happening in the world, in case it impacts your company.   

Some tips in strengthening relationships with the media: 

  • Pick up the phone or schedule a time to meet in real life. 
  • Personalize pitches to each reporter/editor. 
  • Follow/engage on social channels, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. 
  • Don’t take any media rejection personally. 
  • Join professional media or PR groups; attend networking events where media are speaking/ attending. 
  • Head to a local establishment where reporters and journalists are known to hang out –enjoy a beverage! 

The bottom line: a PR pro who has solid working relationships with a variety of media and has a strong track record of placements will be valued. 

Related articles: 

5 Tactics for Developing Relationships with Journalists, PR Daily 

PRSA:  Public Relations and the Press, a Powerful Partnership 

Forbes: How To Communicate With The Media For Better Results: 10 Expert Tips