Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What I've learned about media relations

I hate media relations. I think it is used too much in current public relations practices. That being said, however, I do agree that media relations is an important part of public relations. What follows are some tips on working with the media that I've picked up along the way. Whether they are valid or not is open to interpretation!

1. Be a blessing, not a burden, to your media contacts. Understand and respect their needs and deadlines.

2. Pitch news, not free advertising. I once had the opportunity to talk with a reporter from The New York Times about her views on working with PR people. She told me that The New York Times gets thousands of press releases each day (about three e-mails per minute), but most are just trying to get publicity for their client. Reporters’ jobs are to report the news, not your client.

3. "Provide quality media contacts" (W&O, 159). Make sure you use the writing style of the particular media outlet and that there are no errors in what you submit to them. Make sure the people they interview from your organization are knowledgeable, personable and well prepared.

4. "If it can be handled in a news release, use a news release" (W&O, 159).

5. Proofread all e-mails sent from you to media contacts. I learned this the hard way when I failed to proofread an e-mail I sent to Walt Mossberg, a prominent Wall Street Journal reporter. Because of this, he misinterpreted my meaning and sent me a scathing e-mail. Needless to say, he wasn't interested in the pitch after that.

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