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Media relations is an integral part of what Tees Valley-based PR agency Publicity Seekers does day-to-day to raise the profile of its clients. Continuing our advice series, Jonathan Saunders, Senior Account Executive, explains how all businesses can build a strategic relationship with significant journalists and press outlets.

Public relations involves working with the various arms of the media, be it print media journalists, trade and industry bodies, social media influencers or daily news bulletins, to inform and update your business’s key target audience on what’s happening within your business.  

The obvious question on your mind that needs answering is: ‘why is media relations so important?’

There are infinite answers to this question but there are a few which are key to every business owner whether you’ve been in business five minutes or 50 years.

In business, you’re doing great things on a daily basis and that incredible work could persuade new clients to choose your services over your competitors'.

This is where media content and profile raising comes in useful. You should be looking to do it when things are going well, don't wait until the orders dry up, your marketing ends up looking sales-focussed and slightly desperate. Do it when things are going well, when you have great projects to shout about, happy clients to interview and give their views on why what you have done benefits them.

Here are a few things you should know when trying to build relationships with the media:

The Audience

Before you think about approaching a journalist or publication you need to know who your stakeholders are. By identifying who to target you can determine the types of information they consume and where they get their news and information from. Which in turn, pinpoints the journalists/bloggers/media organisations you need to contact.

Things like geography, interests and characteristics in your audience can affect the publications you target. By knowing where they are and who they are it can help you to craft a message which will ring true within the media they already consume.

The Journalist

Take time to learn who you are targeting and what their workload is like.

For some, time is of the essence. Especially for those who have daily publications to fill, or a quota of stories to go online each day. In this instance a relevant, insightful and entertaining pre-written press release goes down well.

On the other hand, you may have journalists who would rather put the story together themselves. Open yourself up to them as a source they can use and most importantly come back to in the future.

The best way to reach a journalist is by picking up the phone and having a chat. You then have the chance to build up a rapport with the journalist, pitch your story to them, find out if it’s of interest, and discuss exactly what they require. Let them know what areas of expertise you have and what topics you might be interested in commenting on.

The Publication

Publications vary in many different ways and first you must identify the magazines, newspapers or journals which are of relevance to your business and your industry. 

If you want to build up a relationship with these publications and prove to them that you’re a trustworthy source for them to use for stories and features in the future, you need to understand them. 

Take the time to look over what they’ve covered in the past, comprehend the writing style, take note of any regular features they run that they might need support with and think about ways you can complement to this.   

This information will allow you to approach them as a help, not a hindrance. This is the position you want to be in. 

From identifying the initial story, to writing up the press release, achieving coverage in your target publications, and making sure your key messages gets in front of your target audiences is the goal.

Remember though, media relations are not just about press releases. It could mean writing a feature article that highlights your opinion as a leader in your industry, a video comment on a particular topic or simply providing an opinion that could be included within a wider discussion.

In conclusion

Knowing your audience identifies the channels they use which identifies the journalist to connect with.

When crafting a pitch to a journalist and writing up the story that follows, always have your key audience and the audience of said publication in mind. It will make building that relationship a lot easier and will encourage the journalist and the publication to look upon you and your business as leaders in your industry.

Publicity Seekers is a team of trained journalists who understand all aspects of the media from social to newspapers; TV to radio; podcasts to YouTube; trade journals to business pages. The company has been successfully building client reputations for the past 12 years.

For more information about Publicity Seekers go to www.publicityseekers.co.uk, email jsaunders@publicityseekers.co.uk or call 0845 226 91 26.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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