How to Build Strong One-to-One Media Relationships
Do you have media relationships in a specific geographical area or perhaps in a particular industry? If you’re a professional working in the PR space—or looking to break into it—this question is bound to be asked everywhere from job interviews, to new client pitch meetings, to internal strategy sessions.
Most PR professionals have access to a media database filled with contacts across regions and verticals…but that’s not quite the same thing as a one-on-one relationship. A media relationship is a contact you have an established connection with, not just someone who’s email address you have on file. So, how does one go about building meaningful one-on-one relationships that can benefit your company, your clients and your career?
Many PR novices ask this question, but there is no magic bullet. It takes time and effort, but forging strong relationships with media is an achievable goal if you are willing to put in the work and follow a few simple steps.
1- Identify Your Key Targets- Before you can have a roster of dozens or even hundreds of media relationships built up, you’ll need to start with a handful of key targets. Do you work in a specific industry or exclusively with businesses of a certain size? Would it be valuable to establish a connection with key media in your local area or in the area of your primary client base? The answers to these questions can help inform your initial target list.
2- Stay Organized – In PR, organization is an underlying key to success across many facets of the job, perhaps none more important than media relationship building. Anytime you have communication with a key media target—or even just someone who may potentially become a key media contact one day down the road—make sure you document that interaction. Create an email folder for all your communications with them, add them to your CRM, track your interactions in an organized Excel file or do whatever you need to do to keep an accurate record of your budding relationship. Anytime you reach out to a media contact with whom you are working to establish a working relationship, try to call back to a previous piece you’ve worked on together, something they mentioned they were looking for that you can now provide or, even better, something more personal the two of you might have shared about one another (e.g. weekend/holiday plans, family/kids, etc.). After you reach out to a couple thousand media targets over the course of a year or so you’re going to need an organized record of your interactions with key targets to remind yourself of where you left off.
3- Check In- Don’t forget to touch base from time to time just to see how they’re doing, what they’re working on, wish them happy holidays or let them know you have a new expert or resource that might be useful for them. Sounds easy, right? Well, PR is a multifaceted job where there always seem to be more balls in the air than hands to grab them. Smaller tasks, like checking in with a contact,are the kinds of things that tend to get overlooked or put on the backburner. Don’t let that happen to you! It’s these little check ins and friendly hellos that can make all the difference in terms of keeping you on their radar and setting yourself apart from the dozens (maybe even hundreds) of other PR pros reaching out to them on a weekly basis.
Just like your personal relationships, every media relationship will be unique. The level of formality, frequency of communication, pitch angles/experts/materials will all vary based on the outlet and the specific media contact. Understanding and embracing those unique differences are what makes for effective one-on-one relationship building. Follow these steps, put in the effort and the next time someone asks you about your media relationship you’ll be ready to impress—and deliver!
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