Media relations involves working with the media to inform the public of an organization’s mission, policies, and practices in a positive, consistent, and trustworthy manner. This usually includes working directly with the people in charge of producing news and features for the media. The purpose of media relations is to get as much favorable coverage as possible without spending money on advertising.
In other words, media relations allow companies to have someone else advocate for their brand story and broaden the reach of their messages without having to pay for additional coverage.
The media has always been PR’s principal conduit for achieving that goal. As a result, many people confuse media relations with public relations.
However, we now live in an inbound world where content reigns supreme. These days, people use Google search and social media to find information on their own. That also applies to journalists and bloggers who conduct their own investigations and uncover news on the internet. This means they don’t have to wait for a public relations specialist to contact them with the news. Rather, they can discover the information on their own.
To succeed in engaging the media, the best strategy is to pull journalists in rather than push messages out. This is the foundation of the inbound PR strategy, which is based on unique content that people discover on their own time via search and social media. This approach takes time and dedication because it requires a well-thought-out plan, extensive research into your target audience, and the subsequent formulation of the appropriate content and strategies to reach them.
Outbound vs. Inbound PR
Before we look at some tips for inbound media relations, let us distinguish between what is considered outbound and inbound PR.
As a marketing function, public relations improve a brand’s image and advertise its products or services in an organic and relatable way. Working with media representatives to broadcast positive news about your company and engaging in initiatives to build and develop connections with key stakeholders are examples of PR activities. Outbound activities are those you do to capture someone’s attention; inbound activities are those that make it easier for potential clients to find your brand by giving them the information they seek.
Media relations is often thought of as an outbound PR approach that involves establishing a relationship with media representatives such as journalists, reporters, and editors. Sending press releases, calling and pitching a story idea that you hope a reporter will want to follow up on, and writing an opinion piece or editorial in the newspaper are all examples of typical media relations tasks. Press releases are noteworthy, story ideas are beneficial to the media outlet’s audience, and opinion pieces are valuable. However, these are all ways of pushing the message outward in the hopes that the public will pay attention.
How to do inbound media relations
Outbound PR includes events. Press conferences, for example, are serious occasions in which a company executive or a political figure makes an essential statement about which reporters will report in their publications or on their broadcasts. In an effort to provide journalists with news stories, press tours are organized for media representatives to tour and examine essential new facilities. A good example of a tour venue is a new manufacturing facility that has just added a significant number of people to its workforce. An informal variation of the same idea is an open house, such as a reception in a new office. Product demonstrations and trade displays are further examples of such events.
On the other hand, one strategy to implement inbound PR is to publish written content on the web. With this strategy, when someone searches for a keyword, your articles, blogs, press releases, and social media posts appear in the search results. In order to do this, you can submit guest posts to websites to share your views or expertise in a way that isn’t self-serving. For example, if you’re an accountant, you can write an article about recent tax law changes and how they will affect middle-income families. White papers are also popular since they provide objective information on a specific issue. You can request contact information from users that download this kind of information from your website and use it to build a mailing list of people who are interested in this type of content.
Additionally, designing visuals and videos about your company and sector and then sharing them on social media is a creative way of doing inbound PR. Infographics are best described as graphical representations of data and information that is visually appealing. For example, you can use these videos to share a behind-the-scenes instance of an accountant defining and calculating a sophisticated tax calculation on a whiteboard for demonstrations or clarify a challenging subject. Alternatively, you can create a video of your company’s CEO explaining a business proposition. You can ask viewers to share their names and email addresses to build future email marketing campaigns.
Tips for inbound media relations
1) Do your research first
Journalists use social media to stay informed, conduct research, produce stories, and create a personal brand. Most of them have their own blogs and they’re all on social media.
The first step in planning any media relations activity is researching the media. It would help if you targeted the correct media professionals and outlets in the same way that you target potential clients for your products. Your branded content or press release will have a much better chance of being picked up if you target it to journalists who are likely to be interested in your story. By doing your media targeting the right way, you increase the chances of piquing genuine curiosity among journalists whose interests align with your news.
To do adequate research, read what journalists write about (e.g. blog posts or prior pieces). and participate in conversations with them (e.g. in LinkedIn groups, and Twitter chats). Talk to them to learn about their interests, pain points, issues, and current projects. If your story addresses one of those problems, you’ve got a win-win situation.
You don’t want to waste a journalist or media outlet’s time by sending them useless information. On the contrary, you must always personalize your approach. Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, that you know what they write about, what they’re interested in, what their pain points are, and how your story or news may help solve them.
2) Get creative with your outreach
The media ignore emails that don’t stand out and capture their attention. They are too preoccupied and prefer to rely on their own means of gathering information. This typically involves using social media.
As previously stated, journalists are active on social and mobile platforms, and they are well-versed in digital, real-time communications. Instead of emailing them a press release, why not tweet them or message them on social media? This could be a much faster channel for checking whether they’d be interested and have time for you and your news. What’s more, you might find that this is actually their preferred mode of communication. Include an infographic or another piece of content that is visually appealing to stand out even more.
3) Don’t be spammy
Don’t follow up as soon as you’ve reached out and don’t keep sending follow-up messages either. If you do not receive a response after two follow-ups, you can safely assume the journalist isn’t interested. It might just be that they’re too busy to follow up on the story you’ve pitched right now, and you should respect that. Maybe they’ll remember your kindness and reach out to you later. In any case, if they don’t seem interested, don’t waste their time and yours by sending one follow-up after another.
4) Create remarkable content
Make an effort to be unique and create content that hasn’t been created before. If you’re considering writing a press release, consider converting it into an infographic or a video and posting it on your website in addition to publishing it as plain text. Using unique content will draw more attention to you.
Journalists and bloggers will reference your content in their articles if it’s exceptional. This can help you to attract more visitors to your site while also increasing your SEO.
Don’t forget about social media once you’ve attracted influencers and they’ve written about you. Use your networks to promote your content and share any press coverage you receive. The goal isn’t simply to get the word out about your brand; you should also mention the journalist, blogger, influencer, and media outlet that has written about you. In this manner, you can express your gratitude, and boost the media professional’s reputation.
5) Use emotion in your stories
Yes, you need to follow the inverted pyramid and the “who, when, what, where, why, and how” structure in your blog posts. But is that the only way to win hearts and minds?
We are emotional beings who make decisions based on our emotions, so don’t bore us. Instead, you need to connect with us, tempt us, challenge us, interest us, and make us want more. A meticulously written article that adheres strictly to a precise structure but does nothing else is unlikely to succeed. Be unique and daring.
6) Prioritize your organic content and owned media channels
Journalists will investigate you in the same way that potential customers will. They’ll assess you before they decide whether or not to write about you. This means they’ll be looking at your website and social media platforms for confirmation or more engaging content. They’ll also be looking for vital company facts to back up their story. Why would they want to feature you if they can’t find anything exciting or valuable on your owned channels? When it comes to your website, marketing content, and social media networks, make sure you have a solid content plan. In the digital economy, an omnichannel approach will help you to succeed.
7) Make it easy for journalists to get in touch with you
There will be times when a journalist needs to speak with you to clarify some details about your company or to get more facts about a story you’ve pitched. Perhaps they want to expand on their story or include a few interviews. In any case, make sure your website has a press page with your media relations contact information. This should be a real-life contact, preferably with an image of that person — this enhances the experience because the journalist now knows who they will be working with.
8) Share their content
When you’ve gotten attention through media relations, make sure to share the stories and give credit to the journalists or influencers who wrote them. Mentioning them on your platforms will help to solidify their reputation by increasing traffic to their article. They will appreciate this and remember you for it. More specifically, they’ll remember you when they’re working on another story and want to collaborate again. Remember the success of inbound PR strategies focuses on long-term relationships rather than short-term advantages.
You need to create tailored content and personalized engagement with the appropriate people on the proper channels these days. You must be strategic with your media outreach, just as you are with your marketing. To make informed decisions and establish a plan for successful media relations with the relevant influencers and outlets with appropriate content, you must first conduct research.
Media relations is all about working with the media to inform the public about an organization’s mission, policies, and procedures. Beyond that, you must do this in a positive, consistent, and trustworthy manner. In order to do media relations in an efficient and organic way, you need to master the above inbound PR tactics.