Sarah Whelband | How to become a media relations expert
I’m not gonna lie, it will take time to build relationships, as it does in any aspect of life or business, but there are some tips that it’s useful to bear in mind that will help you along your way.
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How to become a media relations expert

02 Sep How to become a media relations expert

In PR, it’s all about the relationship with the journalist. That’s what we mean by media relations.

Getting to know a journalist will help you when pitching stories to them; you get to know what they are looking for, and they know who you are and know when to call if they need something that you can comment on.

I’m not gonna lie, it will take time to build relationships, as it does in any aspect of life or business, but there are some tips that it’s useful to bear in mind that will help you along your way.

A relationship should be beneficial to both parties, so if you want a journalist to write about a story for you, then you should be able to give them useful information in return. A journalist is looking for contacts that they know they can depend on, can provide good quality comment and exclusive stories. It may be that you have to prove yourself first before a journalist adds you to his or her little black book, and will help you out.

Understand the pressure points that a journalist has. They are inundated with emails, most of them they will delete. They, like us, are under pressure. In their case, they’ve got to write good quality copy in a short space of time, to source newsworthy stories that their competitors won’t have, to be on top of the news agenda, and get news out fast to their readers.

So no wonder they might get a little narked if someone rings them when they are on deadline, or write them an email that hasn’t got the slightest relevance to their role. This is why research is so important. Keeping up to date with what they’ve been writing, what they are saying on social media will help reduce any unnecessary mistakes when getting in contact. It’s just courteous to know who you are speaking to if you want them to write about you.

Of course, there’s a chance that your email may have been missed by the journalist first time round, or they said they’d get back to you, and forgot because a big story came up and they had to drop what they were working on. So following up is always advisable. But in the right way. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that you don’t ask a journalist if they’ve seen your press release, that’s guaranteed to rub them up the wrong way. Just sending a quick email to remind them about your story, ask whether they are interested, or offering a bit more information, such as a photo or case study is the best way to approach this, it’s more appreciated than simply asking if they’ve read your email.

Finally, I’ve always made an effort to say thank you to a journalist if they have covered a story. There have been quite a few times that journalists have said to me that not many people have shown their appreciation after writing a story that features them. Again, it’s just courtesy. A thank you never goes amiss.

So do your research, have those conversations, and begin to shape relationships. There’s definitely no substitute for getting to know the media, but hopefully these tips will help you get there faster.

If you would like some advice on how to create a media relations strategy, please get in touch here.

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