Building Relationships Is Key to Media Relations in the Digital Age

Building Relationships Is Key to Media Relations in the Digital Age

While use of technology is key to media relations in the 21stcentury, relationship building is still the key to effective digital-age media relations.

In the Mad Men golden age of public relations and advertising, getting the media’s attention involved lunch or cocktails with editors and journalists, hand-delivering press kits, and strategizing other ways to get in front of the media. Without the convenience of voice mail, e-mail, and Twitter posts, PR professionals had to put a great deal of effort into building relationships with reporters and journalists.

Funny how some things never really change. The delivery methods may be very different, but the key factor in getting a story picked up by the media today is the same as it was 50 years ago. Effective media relations is based on how well you know writers, editors, and producers.

Same goal, different means

Relationship building starts with getting to know the person. What used to involve wine and cheese now involves LinkedIn and Google searches. The goal of anyone trying to get a story in print or on the air is to find a reporter or editor who may be interested in your story and then learn as much about them as you can.

The first step is to find relevant media outlets that fit your story. You can do this through an online search. If you’re promoting your company’s new software, look for tech publications; if you’re a hospital with a cutting-edge procedure, medical journals and trade publications, as well as TV news, may be interested.

Getting to know you

Once you have a list of media outlets, look for writers, editors, and producers who may be interested in your type of story. Research these writers on the Internet to read stories they’ve written or watch TV clips they’ve produced. Begin small and engage with a few reporters by sharing their stories on social media or sending them a quick note to say how much you enjoyed their article.

Another way to engage with a writer or producer is to send them a story idea that you’re sure they’ll like but has nothing to do with your task at hand. The journalist who covers women, health, and art may be interested in a story about an up-and-coming female artist, even though you’re working on pitching the journalist a story about the impact of rising healthcare costs on single mothers.

Once you’ve established a relationship with a few writers or editors, craft personalized e-mails with specific angles customized to each person’s interests. Instead of a straight-up promo of your product, provide a big-picture idea of how your product is changing the face of the industry or how it impacts people in their daily lives. Provide enough details to grab their attention and offer them further research or background information to make their job as easy as possible.

Because you’ve already established a relationship and built some credibility, not only is your pitch more likely to be read but follow up e-mails and phone calls are more likely to result in a response.

Ultimately, this is a bury-the-lede technique that’s as old as PR relationship building. Pitches by Mad Men execs would take place several vodka gimlets in to a dinner meeting. Today, the libations may have disappeared and the techniques, timing, and angle all occur via the Web, but the one-on-one relationship building with reporters, editors, and producers is still the best method for getting your story in the media.

FrogDog works strategically with our clients to get their news and stories in front of a targeted list of media outlets. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

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Posted: Aug 23, 2016
Updated: Oct 08, 2019
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