Having strong relationships with journalists means a company has higher chances of gaining earned media. Companies could spend all their time and effort trying to build their brand, but all their efforts could be in vain without the proper media coverage. The best way to overcome this problem is by creating and developing relationships with journalists and media outlets in their industry.
Benefits of media relations
Media relations produces better media coverage results than any other marketing communications activity in the past. The media relations landscape has evolved over the years, but good PR professionals have adapted to the changes. This allows them to help companies develop cost-effective strategies to reach a large audience.
Media relations has the following benefits:
1) Build brand awareness
The whole intention of creating a media relations campaign is to help a company grow its brand reputation and grow its visibility among the target audience. By adding effective media relations to any marketing communications plan, companies can build brand awareness by obtaining positive coverage in quality media outlets.
Companies should try and develop custom content based on different factors. They should consider factors like location, geographic reach, industry, and target audiences when coming up with ideas. Brands can work independently or with PR professionals like Pressfarm to create stories about the brand for various outlets, including traditional and digital media.
Pressfarm is a PR agency that works with companies to create newsworthy content and connect them with their perfect media match. With access to their PR database of over 1 million media professionals, companies can search through their filter-based platform to find their ideal media match. Their PR professionals also help increase online visibility in relevant search results across major search engines.
When done effectively, media outreach can result in media coverage that comes in many different forms.
Some popular types include; product round-up, thought leader spotlight, byline/contributed article, and company/news feature. Any earned media you gain shines a spotlight on your brand to grow awareness. Secondly, companies might have someone that is an expert in their field and would like to share their information with audiences. This kind of content can be picked up and shared by other thought leaders in the industry. No matter which form of media a company is mentioned in, these mentions will increase awareness.
2) Increase credibility
Gaining consumer trust is essential for any business to be successful. When the market is as highly saturated as it is, consumers tend to stay loyal to brands and products/services they trust. Most consumers develop brand loyalty after having a pleasant experience dealing with a company. Media coverage can help companies achieve this by providing authenticity, trust, transparency, and credibility.
Even when there are plenty of media sources that people can go to for news consumption, consumers also tend to have their go-to sources of information. Choosing the appropriate media outlet ensures that the right audience is seeing a company’s content. When it comes to achieving credibility, companies need to understand what their target consumer is looking for. At a time when it’s challenging to differentiate between organic content, sponsored media, and “fake news,” consumers want to know that the information they are consuming and the brand associated with it is authentic and real. A brand that portrays transparency through its media communication plan is one that will be able to gain credibility.
3) Establish media relationships
By having a media communications plan, companies can develop long-term relationships that result from years of dedication to build mutually beneficial relationships with media outlets. Journalists, companies, and PR professionals need each other to create content and engage their audiences.
If there is a stable relationship beforehand, journalists and media outlets may rely on the company to provide timely and valuable information about a topic that their audience might be interested in. If they had a positive experience with the company, they will establish a back and forth communication relationship.
4) Control a crisis
Sometimes issues may arise for a company that may be out of their control. If they already have an existing relationship with media professionals, then companies have a spokesperson who can create a statement for the media. This relationship gives companies a better chance of controlling the message being presented.
How to attract a journalists’ attention
To build a long-term relationship with media professionals, a company must first find interesting and concise ways to attract their attention.
1) Make sure your ideas are original
There is usually nothing that a journalist or media outlet hasn’t seen or heard of before. With their inboxes constantly getting filled, they generally go for content that captures their attention and manages to retain it. Companies should only send media pitches or press releases that are creative, concise, and backed with trustworthy information and insight.
2) Get to the point
Regardless of how you approach a media professional, the message needs to be clear and presented succinctly. It needs to have an attractive headline that draws them in and content that shows the effort to create a concise pitch.
The Inverted Pyramid writing style is a great one to employ when trying to create newsworthy content. This format places the essential information at the beginning, with the necessary “filler” information at the end.
3) Be transparent
Journalists prefer when their news sources are reliable. To build a long-term relationship with them, companies need to provide a good story that is transparent and includes truthful information. If a company were to offer non-factual details, the journalist’s story could potentially hurt their reputation.
In order to avoid wasting a journalist’s time, it is also important to be transparent about your availability. Companies need to be clear when or where they will be available. Sometimes a story might be time-sensitive, and all the information needs to be obtained relatively quickly. If that is the case, companies need to make sure that they are readily available and all their information is ready to go when journalists need it. If you aren’t prepared or don’t provide accurate information, a journalist will not be pleased that you wasted their time.
4) Meet in the middle
Journalists are often looking for experts and thought leaders to provide insight and enhance a statistics-based piece. They often turn to individuals they have spoken to before and people who have helped them with the content they need to create. Companies can use this as a way to gain media exposure for their business and brand.
If you can make a journalist’s job easier by offering quotes and supporting evidence for their story, then they will start to trust you as a thought leader in the industry.
5) Show an interest in their work
Companies have a better chance of getting a journalist’s attention if they have done some research on said journalist. They should look at the types of stories the journalists have written previously, their writing style, and the themes they seem to like.
When initiating a relationship with a journalist, the company should look at this media professional’s online profile, the news outlets they write for, their social media channels, and their work. If it is evident that you are interested in their content and you have sought them out specifically, a journalist will have some incentive to talk to you.
How to build relationships with journalists
1) Keep the conversation going
Now that the relationship has been formed, it is essential to keep the conversation going. Firstly, companies should communicate through email rather than social media because it is more personal. Secondly, they should try and find ways to make a memorable impression with every media professional who they reach out to. Companies should try and reach out to them first whenever new content needs to be distributed, whether it is sending a pitch, sharing insight, or any other newsworthy information.
Also, something to keep in mind is that if a company only reaches out to media professionals when they need them, that isn’t exactly a mutually beneficial relationship. It seems like one side is using the other only for their gain. In order to build a truly mutually beneficial relationship, you must keep the conversation going even when you don’t need a favour from your media contacts.
2) Be patient
When a journalist accepts a pitch or decides to write content for a company, it’s a good idea to reply with a brief thank you email or provide insight into the piece’s positive aspects.
Like any relationship, developing one with a journalist takes time, trust, and patience. While a company may think that their news is time-sensitive and newsworthy, a media professional may not feel the same. They may overlook it or tell the company that they are not interested at the present moment. While it may seem disheartening, it does not mean that the media outreach was a failure. It just means that the company needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with something that draws journalists in or targets a new group of media professionals.
If a journalist were to reply to a pitch, even with a rejection, it shows that they have at least considered the pitch. This is a positive step when developing a relationship because it initiates a two-way dialogue that each side can build on. From there, companies can gauge how the conversation will go and see what constitutes an appropriate tone and conversation.
Companies must stick to their mission and vision even if they experience rejection from media outlets. What may not seem relevant to one media professional may be news gold for another. In this case, the best priority is to come up with a new media communications strategy that targets a different audience.
3) Say thanks in a way that matters
A lot of the time, people only do things if it is mutually beneficial to them. In media communication, it is essential to thank journalists who write great stories about your brand. By sharing the piece a journalist has written, you can thank them in a way that matters.
Promoting a journalist’s story helps build traction for the media outlet and its journalists. This is beneficial when you’re trying to develop a long-term relationship with media professionals.
Regardless of what business it is, companies benefit significantly from effective media communications. Building a stable relationship with media professionals can make the difference between a successful company and a company that achieves little to no online visibility. In a highly saturated market, it is essential that companies continuously look for exciting ways to capture journalists’ attention. Whether they achieve this on their own or hire PR professionals, their content must be unique, original, and transparent to gain media attention.