What is Media Relations in Public Relations
PR is all about relationships. Media relations, as it pertains to public relations, is about the relationships you build with media contacts and members of the press. Usually, this refers to the relationship between journalists and public relations professionals.
Strong media relations practices help lend a sense of authenticity and validity to a brand or a business. In a world where any brand can claim their product’s excellence, media relations presents an opportunity for third-party validation of these claims, fostering trust and reinforcing your claims.
What is Media Relations
Specifically, media relations refers to the mutually beneficial relationships between public relations professionals and journalists, editors, and reporters. Media relations is one of the oldest and most reliable forms of PR. What makes media relations important is the potential impact it can have on a brand’s public perception.
Strong media relationships, particularly when they involve outlets trusted and consumed by your target audience, offer massive reach and a huge boost to your audience positioning.
Media relations shapes and informs your organisation’s reputation and should be a major piece of any communication strategy.
The Difference Between Media Relations and PR
While some might use the terms media relations and public relations interchangeable, the two have some subtle differences.
Simply put, media relations is a subset of public relations. Media relations involves working with and leveraging a single communication channel, as the name implies. Public relations is broader, and engages with a wider variety of channels.
PR encompasses media relations as one arrow in a varied quiver. A media relations strategy is vital for any PR approach, but PR best practices should not be limited simply to sending a press release to the right media outlet.
The Role of Media Relations in PR
The main role of media relations in PR is to inform and educate the press about an organisation’s objectives and accomplishments.
This extends to as much of the media landscape as possible. The biggest organisations in the world have relationships with relevant media outlets across newspapers, radio, television, online news and social media.
Building and nurturing these relationships is vital to PR success, regardless of the size of the organisation in question. It’s almost impossible to engage equally with every media outlet there is, so it’s key to build strong relationships with a few key players.
Building Relationships with Media Outlets
The first, and most important part of media relations, is the development of a mutually beneficial relationship between the PR professional and a representative of the media outlet.
Media relations entail developing symbiotic relationships. The relationship must be professional and authentic. Think about the person you’re engaging with, not the news media outlet they represent.
Managing Public Perception
For PR professionals, managing public perception is a finely honed art form. Good media relations are absolutely crucial to managing public perception. Your audience trusts their preferred media outlets implicitly.
Media coverage defines and establishes an organisation’s image and reputation with the general public. Positive coverage from trusted media outlets is the gold standard for any PR strategy, as it can have enormous positive consequences for organisations. On the other hand, negative media coverage can do dramatic damage to an organisation’s reputation.
Public relations practitioners have been engaging in media relations for decades because the media plays such a vital role in managing public perceptions and opinions.
Key Components of Media Relations
Every good media relations strategy has several key features in common. Like all aspects of PR, there are tried-and-tested components to media relations that are straightforward to incorporate in your strategy.
Press Releases and Media Pitches
Once upon a time, a single large-push press release was the main tool in the media relations toolbox. This is a relatively blunt instrument, and there are more precise methods available today, but sometimes a good old-fashioned press release or media pitch is enough to convey your key messaging to the right media outlets.
Media Interviews and Spokespersons
Interviews, statements, and soundbites offer the opportunity to give a first-person account of your organisation. When engaging with the media, it’s best to prepare for the interview well ahead of time and know your key talking points. Even more important is appointing an appropriate spokesperson who is articulate, charismatic, and represents your brand effectively.
Media Monitoring and Analysis
Media monitoring is the process by which PR professionals keep an eye on the fruits of their media relations labours. Once upon a time this meant poring over magazines and newspapers for mentions of their organisation. Now, you can use apps and software to trawl the web to find media mentions and evaluate the success of your media relations from there.
Media relations is never more important than in a time of crisis. Crisis communication is all about preparation: having a strong media relationship before the crisis occurs helps manage the media response and minimise PR damage in the crisis.
Media Relations is More Than Just ‘Pitching a Story’
Even when the pitch and press release was the dominant form of media relations for PR professionals, it wasn’t the only thing in media relations.
Traditional story pitching is a powerful tool and can reap huge rewards. However, media relations is far more about building relationships than simply hitting the send button on a mass email or press release.
A strategic approach to communication and building honest, authentic relationships with the right media outlets is far more effective than just pitching a story to a stranger.
This goes much further, too. These relationships are vital when managing a crisis or engaging with a new audience. In fact, the old-fashioned story pitch enjoys much more success when you’re pitching a story to a journalist with whom you already have a strong relationship.
The Impact of Effective Media Relations
Effective media relations can boost an organisation’s reputation for years to come. There’s nothing more powerful in shaping public perception than media coverage. That’s why it is so important to maximise positive coverage by building effective relationships and choosing the right messaging for your brand. It’s only one part of organisational success, but as with all aspects of PR, it can be a massively beneficial tool when used appropriately.