Advice On Handling The Media And PR Content
Having a strong relationship with the media can help your brand to increase its reach without spending millions in advertising. By making connections with the right journalists and organisations, fast-moving companies can get themselves noticed, building awareness that can help them reach their goals in a number of different ways.
For example, sales conversations can become much easier. If your company has an established media presence, it’s likely that the person or organisation that you are selling to has heard of you and has a minimum level of understanding about what you do. Similarly, this is also beneficial if your business wants to strike partnerships. And a solid media profile will grab the attention of potential new recruits, helping you to attract the kind of talent you need to grow.
HOW STARTUPS SOMETIMES GET MEDIA RELATIONS WRONG
Startups don’t always get it right when they deal with the media. This is often because they don’t know quite how to communicate with journalists. As many journalists are not specialists in the industries that they cover, any company that wishes to develop a rapport needs to be able to explain their proposition in layman’s terms. Journalists are not clients, nor are they potential investors. Jargon heavy, sales-driven messages won’t cut through with media, so you’ll need to develop specific, media-friendly messaging.
While it is important to keep this messaging simple, you should avoid being patronising too. Journalists are typically under a great deal of time pressure and are being pitched to by multiple organisations at any one time, so you must be careful not to offend them in any way. You’ll also need to be patient with them; good relationships with media are built up with trust, over a period of time. Even in fast-moving industries where deals are struck in a matter of moments, journalists don’t operate in the same way. Taking things slow and steady will pay dividends.
HOW TO GET COVERAGE AND BUILD POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH MEDIA
It’s vital that your media efforts are always connected to your strategy. Otherwise, you are wasting time and resources. You need to decide which publications and media organisations are relevant to your business objectives and focus on them. Develop a media list and do what you can to meet with journalists face-to-face — you could host an event, or take them for lunch. This won’t always be possible, so think about how you could incentivise key media to jump on a quick video call, perhaps.
It’s also important to make yourself useful to journalists. They need quality content, and you want exposure. It’s important to remember that a journalist is not your copywriter - you mustn’t tell them what to write and when. In order to make the best of the transactional nature of this relationship, try to understand exactly what it is they need in terms of their agenda and story angles. For example, they could be interested in updates on your company activities, or perhaps commentary about developments in the wider industry sector are more relevant to them. If you are a data provider, then consider providing insights to them on a regular basis — without charge, of course. Use the opportunities provided by one-on-one meetings to ask them exactly what they would find useful.
TREAD CAREFULLY WITH PAID CONTENT AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
While there is nothing wrong with paid content partnerships per se, this area should be approached with a certain degree of caution. While it can be tempting to pay to place articles that contain all of your key messaging, some of the organisations in this area are more interested in taking your money than helping you to promote or amplify your content once it has been published. It’s best to keep paid content to a minimum, while focusing on coverage that you have actually earned by developing strong relationships with the media.
Hiring a public relations agency is a very good option for fast-moving companies that want to take their media relationships to the next level. However, there are a number of things that should be considered before doing this. It’s essential to choose an agency that is a good fit with your business — the PR agency needs to understand the industry that you operate in and have existing relationships with your key media targets. The most fundamental point, though, is that you must have a clear picture of what it is that you want to achieve with your media relations strategy. A PR agency won’t be able to build a strategy for you, but they will be able to help you reach your clearly-defined goals.
Building a strong media presence is vital for any fast-moving company that wants to move to the next level. Brands don’t become household names by sheer luck; there is a lot of hard work involved. But those companies that do their research, select their targets carefully and take a patient but persistent approach can reap the rewards. Just remember to make yourself useful and stay focused on your long-term objectives at all times.