Top 10 Bite-Sized Advice Tips For Effective Media Relations
Article kindly supplied by Johnny McGinley, MCIPR, MIC, CIPR Accredited Practitioner.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip One
When writing press releases or pitching stories to the media don’t adopt the “scattergun” approach, which is contacting all journalists on your contact list. Take the time to research the journalist by looking at the last few articles that they have written. What are the subjects they are interested in and like to write about? What is their writing style is it formal or a more relaxed writing style? Try to match the writing style of your press release to fit in with that. Take the time to research these issues so as you can send them material which is relevant. Nothing irritates a journalist more than receiving material from PR professionals that is not of interest to them.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Two
Know the vital ingredients of pitching a good story to journalists and provide journalists with this in one complete package. This includes researching statistics or referencing relevant recent reports that support your story. It also includes providing the journalist with a high quality JPEG image as well as the press release, obtaining quotes from respected experts in the field of your story and providing a human element to the story. Give the journalist all the information they could possibly need to shape and write your story. Do not expect them to do the research on your press release.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Three
A journalist’s reputation depends first and foremost on the accuracy of the articles that they write. Always take the time to make sure that your story is accurate and not “over hyped” if it is later found out to be inaccurate it will almost certainly damage your relationship with the journalist.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Four
A journalist always has the final say over whether to publish a story or not. Never irritate and risk damaging any already established relationship with journalists by trying to pressurise them into covering your story or presenting it in a certain way. Similarly, never ask to see the final article before the journalist publishes it. A journalist is a writing professional, and as such has the right to cover the story in their own particular and individual journalistic style.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Five
Always respond to journalists in a timely manner. They work to very tight editorial deadlines and need the information they ask for as soon as possible in order to put together and shape their article.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Six
Do not call a press conference unless it is a major event. Sometimes there can be a tendency for organisations to call a press conference for every announcement. Press conferences should, as a general guide, be reserved for events that are one off and examples would include a high profile corporate crisis that is in the public domain or a major disaster concerning the organisation.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Seven
National UK newspapers usually have editorial meetings early morning, this is a very busy time for newspaper editors and journalists, so my advice would be to avoid calling them around this time unless they have specifically requested it. Always check with the journalist the best time to call them as publications and newspapers can and do vary, make a note of this in your media contact database against the name of the journalist or newspaper for future reference and always adhere to that to ensure your relationship is not damaged.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Eight
Never give out a journalists email or mobile phone details without their permission. A journalist will probably not be impressed if Joe Blogs writes to them or phones them saying that he got their email address or number from you! This is especially true if what is being pitched by Joe Blogs concerns a subject that the journalist in question is not interested in and does not write about.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Nine
Never make a promise to a journalist that you cannot keep. There is no faster way to destroy relationships with journalists than letting them down. To build relationships with journalists you first need to become a resource for them, and a reliable resource at that. For example, if you do a journalist a favour with a contact or source you know of for a story they are working on even if it is not related to your organisation it will likely be remembered by them as a good gesture, and that will increase the probability of them doing a “good turn” for you with a future story or feature you may need coverage with.
Bite-Sized Advice Tip Ten
Avoid using embargoes on press releases. In today’s world stories can (and frequently are) broken on Twitter as soon as they happen. In my honest professional opinion, I can think of very few instances now where an embargo is appropriate. Generally speaking, journalists have long loathed them.