Whether you’re responding to a crisis or pitching a story, dealing with media is an integral part of public affairs. Media relations is vital to the success of your messaging, which makes it important to get it right.
A vital part of media relations is the contact list – this is where you store the reporters and outlets you’d send information to.
Do: Find the right people
When sending a press release, it’s important to target reporters and media outlets who can use your information. Make sure you’re targeting those people – research past stories, find out their beats, etc.
Don’t: Send just to send
The phrase “quality over quantity” applies to contact lists. There’s a limited number of people who can actually use your releases or potential stories – stick to those.
The first step to media relations is making contact with a reporter, or vice versa.
Do: Reach out personally
Whether it’s a pitch or a release, reaching out to a reporter or news source personally is beneficial in both the short and long-term. Reporters are more receptive when they’re contacted by phone and email, rather than being part of a long chain. This can lay the foundation for a mutually-beneficial relationship.
Don’t: Overload the media
Contacting media is part of the job, so building relationships is important. Those relationships can be hard to come by if you don’t approach the media correctly. Don’t bombard them with emails and phone calls – reach out enough to get their attention.
Communicating a Message
Now that contact has been made, it’s time to convey your message.
Do: Keep it simple
Depending on your company, the information you discuss with media could be difficult to explain. Aim to make your message easily consumable. This lowers the chance of confusion and information being misconstrued.
Don’t: Confuse the messenger
Within certain industries, it’s fine to speak in scientific language and jargon, but when dealing with media, using this language is going to do more harm than good. Break information down – this increases the chances they convey your message correctly.
Managing the Media Process
Media relations is an ongoing process, so it’s important to be actively involved.
Do: Be attentive and available
Media relations is an ongoing journey, and you’re likely to deal with familiar people along the way. Monitoring media outlets enables you to see your message carried out, while keeping tabs on responses and sentiment.
Through this journey, keep yourself open to the media. Being one phone call away strengthens that relationship and helps you stay on top of a situation.
Don’t: Be difficult to reach
You want the media to be receptive to you, so it’s important to treat them the same way. Ignoring questions or calls can set you up for scrutiny, and complicate relationships you may need later.
At Sinclair, we know media relations is a critical part of the job and work tirelessly to ensure it’s done the right way. We cultivate relationships and maintain them to ensure your message receives the attention it deserves.