3 Lessons in: Media Relations

By Vanessa Boynton

Welcome to Lessons in PR, an ongoing series of public relations tips and advice from the professionals at Matter Communications. Have your own tip to submit? Respond in the comments or email vboynton@matternow.com.

As media platforms evolve, public relations is tasked with a continuously growing list of promotional activity. What hasn’t changed, however, is our core responsibility: media relations. Regardless of our individual specialties, it is essential that we understand how to coordinate with media to produce targeted, meaningful coverage for our clients. So – how do we stand out amid the awful din of a journalist’s busy day?

1. Focus on the Big Picture. “Ask what the reporter needs to file his story, and be a really good listener. A good PR pro will facilitate the entire article – not just the client mention.” – Jennifer Karin, Vice President

2. Return the Call. “Always respond to a reporter, even if you have absolutely nothing to say, and especially during a crisis. Unreturned calls hurt relations – and ultimately the client. Explain to a cautious client that an off-the-record courtesy call to simply tell the reporter that we are unable to comment or help at this time helps preserve relations. It also serves as an opportunity to learn of where a reporter is going with the story, providing useful information that may lead to the client wanting to comment or at least prepare their staff for the story that will soon emerge.” – Claire Papanastasiou, Director

3. Get Personal. “It’s not enough to just shoot off an email pitch, hoping the reporter on the other end bites. You need to make the effort to make a personal connection with members of the media – meeting them for coffee to discuss what stories they’re working on, getting to know their hobbies, likes and dislikes, introducing them to sources that would be helpful for their beat – even if it’s not your client specifically. All this will pay off in the long run.” – Emily Quirk, Account Manager