As PR professionals, fostering relationships is at the core of what we do

By Emily Quirk

Meeting new people. Learning new things. That’s what it’s all about. As a former journo, that’s the very reason I got into journalism in the first place. The writing always came second. What I craved was the interaction with all different types of people with varying views and knowing what they know; what makes them tick. As a PR professional it’s not much different. Human interactions and fostering long-lasting relationships is at the core of what we do.

I was reminded of this just last week while staffing a media interview for a client. The writer, who freelances for Better Homes & Garden, Coastal Living and Traditional Home to name a few, was in town for the interview and chatting with her and my client over a cup of coffee felt so natural, warm and exciting. While the article is a year or more out from gracing the pages of a glossy national magazine – and certainly not a done deal until the presses run, the relationship building and connections I’m able to forge now will pay off in the long run. Even if the article is scrapped at the last minute – praying that’s not the case – I’ve made a solid relationship with a freelance writer for national media outlets. Next time I have a client that offers an expertise or product that fits her beat/coverage area, she’ll remember our personable and warm connection.

Stephen Murdoch, vice president of public relations for Enterprise Canada, touches on this very subject in a recent article in PR Daily. He says,

“Many leaders at PR agencies believe all they need to do is send out press releases or create social media content for their clients. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, a press release can be an integral part of any good public relations campaign. And yes, creating good social media content helps too. However, creating lasting relationships with traditional media outlets and bloggers will take your media and public relations efforts to the next level. Strong relationships have always been at the heart of good public relations. Today, with newsrooms shrinking, relationships are of the utmost importance in telling your story.”

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a long-lasting relationship with members of the press:

  1. They’re people too. Get to know them, what they cover, their hobbies, where they’re from, what college they went to, etc.
  2. Keep in touch. Check in every once in a while. And don’t just rely on email. Call them every once in a while or meet up just to chat. Even if there’s no story to pitch, keeping in touch on what stories they’re currently working on or what’s going on in their life will go a long way and foster a strong working relationship. And next time you do have an angle to pitch for a client, they’ll remember how you took the time to get to know them on a personal level.
  3. Connect with them on LinkedIn and other social media channels. Share pertinent content they share on social media channels. Tweet at them – when appropriate. This is also an important tool to keep up with what stories they’re covering, their likes and dislikes, their general interests, what TV shows they’re obsessed with, the list goes on.

Add building solid media relationships to your professional development to-do list. Don’t expect to out of the blue email a member of the media and expect they’ll immediately respond to your pitch or cover your client. Build the relationship first, then leverage that relationship on behalf of your client(s). The time and effort you put in ahead of time will pay off I assure you.