Control the narrative through media relations

Media relations include communicating to a large audience credibly. Additionally, includes the mutually beneficial relationship between public relations (PR) professionals and journalists for information release positively and credibly. This is done to optimize sharing positive information in mass media without having to pay for it through advertising.  The goal for PR professionals is to get editorial coverage. Editorial coverage is earned media and advertorial coverage is paid for media features. The media can be used to raise awareness, build relationships or establish a reputation.


Finding Journalists

The first step to finding journalists is pinpointing the audience you would like to target. Thereafter you should aim to go where your audience can be found. This means filtering journalists that speak to the audience you would like your information or story to be reached. Consider how you would like your content to be featured in the media. Does your audience read printed articles, online articles or can your audience be communicated to via broadcast media? When finding journalists, a PR professional should be strategic. For instance, when their topics of interest are meant to reach a maximum number of people through radio, they would have to target morning and drive time radio shows. This is because during that time people are traveling to or from school and work which means chances are they are listening to the radio on their phones, cars or public transport. PR professionals would then have to identify various morning show and drive time show producers, presenters or programme managers from different relevant radio stations.

Journalists can be found by conducting research. Most PR professionals have access to a media database with various media contacts that can be filtered out. The media database is not just limited to journalists but is inclusive of digital influencers and bloggers as well. A quick search will provide names and contacts that can be used to reach the journalists. There are PR professionals that believe that using a media database is not effective. They believe searching for journalists manually is a more effective method even though it may be time-consuming. Searching for journalists manually includes calling a media outlet and asking for a certain editor, a media reporter or producer’s name and contact details, a media outlet’s website, some journalists can be found on social media especially Twitter and LinkedIn or searching for them on google. Once a PR professional has established a relationship with journalists from different media houses, they could simply just ask their media contact for an email address or the number of a journalist they would like to liaise with.

Again, go where your audience is located. PR professionals have to then identify journalists, reporters, bloggers, producers, etc that could potentially cover their topics of interest. It is important to identify relevant journalists. This is because sending a generic pitch to just any journalist might hurt your credibility as a PR professional.


Pitching to the media

Pitching to the media refers to making an effort to convince a media publication or media outlet to cover topics of interest. Going as far as making simply making contact with the media via email is sometimes not enough to get coverage. After a certain period, depending on the urgency, a PR professional should call to check if the email has been received and reviewed. Journalists receive so many emails daily so it might happen that they may have missed your email. A PR professional will have to persuade a journalist that their story angle is unique and is worth the feature. With so many PR professionals competing for journalists’ attention remember that your pitch needs to stand out from the rest. A pitch should be attention-grabbing from the get-go whether written or spoken. The subject line is important if the pitch is sent to journalists via email. It needs to be attention-grabbing and creative enough to persuade the journalist to read your email further. A media pitch requires great persuasive communication skills


Monitoring coverage

Media monitoring is keeping track of media features from different media channels. Monitoring media coverage gives valuable insight into how a client or business is being mentioned in the media space. This is a benefit to a PR professional as they will be able to manage a brand’s reputation and how the brand is being portrayed by the media. There are media monitoring tools available to assist in keeping track of the media coverage received. These tools help identify mentions on different media platforms like broadcast, print, online and even on social media.


News! Extra hot from the press

In conclusion, media relations are one of the pillars of the PR and integrated communications industry. Your topic of interest needs to go through the gatekeepers of information before it can be heard by an audience. PR is about creating and maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship and brand image between an organization and the public, media relations are a contributing factor to achieving that goal.

Pearlmar Chauke