June 6, 2014
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By: Becca Zook @BeccaZook
If you ask the average person whether they know the difference between Public Relations and Media Relations, chances are they don’t. However, if you ask any communications professional they will tell you that media relations cannot be used interchangeably with public relations.
Public relations involves connecting and creating a relationship between various publics and your organization/business. This means managing communication between consumers, charities, investors, industries, as well as the media.
Media relations is a specialized part of public relations, that focuses on getting as much positive coverage for your organization/business as possible. This involves creating a working relationship with all types of media outlets: broadcast, print and online.
Creating a relationship with media outlets can be difficult. This means making journalists, you’re friends. Which everyone knows journalism and public relations don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Journalists want a good story, while public relations professionals want good news. If you’re just starting out in media relations, calling up a local news channel or the editor of a large paper can be intimidating, but here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations to make it a little easier.
DO: Make Connections on Social Media
Social media is more than just a fun way to connect with your friends. In today’s communication world, it’s a tool. Use it. Connect with different news outlets (from a professional account, of course, Channel 6 really doesn’t care that you made ‘totes delicious’ cookies yesterday #yum). If you have a published story about how an Ohio University Alumni made an impact in your organization, go ahead and tweet/share it with WOUB, the Athens News and The Post.
DON’T: Be Pushy.
No journalist enjoys getting 30 calls/emails a day from anyone, let alone from a media relations specialist. Do not badger them. The more you irritate them, they less likely they are to work with you in the future. Be nice to the reporter.
DON’T: Be a Pushover.
Just because you shouldn’t be pushy, doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you. If you are trying to get media coverage of an event, don’t let them blow you off. If they can’t speak right now, ask when is a better time to call back and set up a time.
DO: Make Follow-up Calls
If you send out an email news release and don’t receive a response within a day or two, call. I can’t count the number of times I’ve made a follow up call and discovered that the release got lost in a sea of emails. Calling makes them take notice of the release and increases your chances of getting it published.
Hint: The best follow-up calls are not direct and instead offer assistance.
“Hello, this is Awesome Media Relations Expert with Significant Organization calling about the press release that I sent you on Tuesday. I was just calling to see if you had any questions regarding Extremely News Worthy/Relevant Event…”
DO: Know Whom You Are Pitching To.
Every media outlet has their own audience, and it’s your job to package your news in a way that appeals to that audience. Do you’re best to explain to them why this story is important and news worthy. The media is not going to publish a story promoting your business; that is not their job. You have to find an angle that sparks their interest.
DO: Be Friendly and Unique.
No one wants to talk to someone who is rude or boring. Being professional does not mean losing all personality! The more people like you, the more likely they will listen to you when you talk. This is what will make or break you in any communications field. Feel free to establish a good relationship with editors – it will help you, I promise.
DON’T: Be Intimidated. (Well, At Least Don’t Show It If You Are Intimidated.)
This is your job; it’s what media relations professionals do. Media outlets are not going to take you seriously if you act shy or nervous. Be confident; if you believe in your organization and show it when you talk to the media, they’ll believe in it too. And before you know it you’ll start to see coverage all over the Internet, press, television and radio!