The value in any PR agency comes from its ability to synthesize messaging that is in alignment with a client’s goals and effectively tell that story to the media. While it may sound like a relatively simple concept, there are a myriad of variables that influence an earned media program, some which make that dynamic easier and some that make it more challenging. One thing remains constant: the relationship you have with a journalist who will tell your stories.
In an era where every person walking with a smartphone in his/her pocket is a photojournalist, a viral story can come from nearly anywhere. More and more, we’re seeing venerable outlets such as CNN running video from an iPhone or Android, and the same for the current queen of daytime talk, Ellen DeGeneres. While most brands seek viral status, it’s generally incredibly difficult to do, and often brands “go viral” for all the wrong reasons.
As such, it’s critical to any brand that a team of people who engage in consistent and tactful media relations steward its programs. Journalists move incredibly fast and are outnumbered by PR folk 6 to 1 in data released in 2018, so an irresponsible PR professional is easy to blacklist. Relationships have never been more important in this industry and to keep pace with their workloads, journalists must work with people who will not waste their time and have an acute understanding of what they truly need to push their stories forward. After all, they’re under the gun to get eyeballs in our current fractured media landscape. While we place a lot of value on face-to-face interactions with our media friends, we’ve found that a much more valuable set of pillars keeps our relationships strong no matter where they call home.
Customer Service: How fast are your response times? Media report to us that they’re often amazed at PR professionals who may seem desperate to get their clients placed but rarely respond to a journalist’s query. We maintain strict response times and make ourselves reachable by the means in which they communicate. For most it’s email, but others prefer email, text and even Instagram DM!
Flatten the process: They don’t have time to read a long-form press release, making it critical that we craft compelling storylines that are tailored for their beat and publication audience.
Subject matter experts: Being invested in your client’s success means learning as much about the product or service and relevant competitors as possible and possessing the ability to quickly answer preliminary questions a journalist may have. By showing them you’re worth speaking to builds the trust needed to foster a lasting professional relationship.
By employing these three things, you’re showing the journalist that you’re not only going to make their lives easier by getting them what they need, the stories that yield form working with you are going to be better because of it. While it’s tempting to want to make your pitch in person over a coffee, there are five other people waiting to do the same. Will you stand out with the same cup from Starbucks or be the first to complete a fact check?