04 May 2021

The art of building media relationships

One area of PR that is mis-understood and undervalued today is media relations – especially national media relations. Senior account manager Nicola Williamson explains the approach to building relationships and securing regular, on-message coverage that helps clients reach their customers.

She explains how MHW PR regularly secures coverage for clients in specialist publications that have national reach. And it doesn’t involve the ‘bcc’ function, that’s for sure!

First things first

So, you have the story, you have the media list you’ve rattled off an expensive PR database and you have the power of email. Easy, right? If that’s all it involved, you’d be out of a job quickly.

Firstly, you must do your research. Read those target publications that are the holy grail for the client. Find out who is writing those articles, how frequently and what stories they’d be interested in. Get to know your target journalist/s and determine the kind of content that would get their attention.

The pitch

Based on your research you know the journalist writes a lot about alternative financial investments or loves nothing more than an analysis of the retail structured products sector. Your client story is approved (and relevant) and you have the reporter’s contact details.

What do you do? Fire off a quick email and just assume they’ll be waiting for it to hit their inbox and call you immediately to request a spokesperson interview? Wishful thinking.

You need to pick up the phone. Engage with the journalist. Have a conversation with them. Introduce yourself, explain that you’ve read a couple of their articles and why your story, and client, is relevant.

The follow up

The pitch went well, and you shared your story with the reporter via email following the call. What next? If you hear nothing back within 48 hours, you should follow up. If still nothing, keep calling, keep emailing. And I don’t mean six calls / emails in one day. Just check in every now and then.

Even if a journalist wants to run your story or interview your client, they need reminding. They’re writing so many stories and talking to so many businesses/PRs. The follow up is just as important as that initial call. Sometimes you must pitch and re-pitch. Other times it takes five calls across two weeks to secure the interview you want. It might sound ‘old school’ but this is where not just patience but persistence and perseverance really are a virtue.

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