Building your brand and establishing a positive image to your target audience takes time, resources and effort. One strategy is to engage with the press to help you get your message across and develop your reputation to the public. A feature about you or your business on broadcast or print media has a different effect compared to an advertisement that is usually for self-promotion. Having a reputable journalist talk or write about you positively cultivates trust among your prospects and customers.
The best approach to get the media to your good side is to hire a PR firm or publicist, which may require some budget. But if you are a startup with limited resources, you may do your media relations on your own. Familiarise yourself first with a few terms to understand how media relations work.
Put together the media contacts that you believe can help bridge you to your target audience. Every news outlet has different shows or sections that can accommodate your story. Watch TV, listen to the radio, and read newspapers, magazines and online news portals. Get to know editors, station managers, reporters, columnists and people who work in the media. Research is vital in connecting with the media. Each company or person has a different style, preference or quirk when it comes to their work. Learn how to approach media people and know what clicks and ticks for them.
E-mailing your pitch or story idea may work for some but not for others. There are those that you have to meet in person so you can explain your proposal face to face. Constantly giving a pitch every time you contact the press may lead to media fatigue. At times, you can ask how you can be of help to them. A symbiotic relationship with the media is what you should try to achieve. Engage them on a professional and personal level with sincerity and within the bounds of integrity and respect.
Prepare your materials and put them together in a media kit. It includes your business profile, brochures, a press release of your event or background of your campaign, and some photos. It is better to put your media kit in digital format as well so that it will be easy for the press to download and edit it for their use.
While you want to share as many information as possible, focus on key messages in every story or press release that you want to share with the media. Identify at most three important messages that you want them to put out to the public. If it’s about a new product or service, allow your story to revolve around it. Get the facts straight and understand every angle of your story idea before you approach the media.
Whether you’re doing it through e-mail, phone or face-to-face meeting, be cordial and straightforward when you make your pitch. It’s like selling the story to the media. Let them see the value of your idea to their audience to make them utilise it in their section or show.
You can work with a particular journalist for an in-depth exclusive interview. Explore possible collaboration with radio and TV shows as well. For example, you can give them a tour of your facilities or a demonstration of how to create or use your product. While you may grant several interviews to various media outlets, you can always pitch a different story angle, depending on their focus and preference.
A press release is an article that you write, which appears as a news item written by a third party, containing vital information about what you want to announce to the public through media distribution. These are given to press outlets to place in their publication. For broadcast media, video or audio releases may be provided. The releases should be well-written, produced and edited so that they are ready to use by the press.
If you want to announce something in person to various media outlets at the same time, you can organise a press conference. It also allows the press to ask you questions. To maintain control of the discussion, stick to your messaging and focus on the topic that you are announcing.
Doing media relations on your own takes a lot of time and effort. However, if you do it right, the rewards can be immense and long-lasting. View the media as your partner and ally in bringing important news that can change lives.