Media relations has always been a blend of timing and storytelling. But what happens when you have a global pandemic, a worldwide cry for humanity and a mass reduction in media outlets? With fewer media outlets than ever before, how are PR pros pivoting and changing the ways they approach media relations in 2021?
We tackled this topic in our recent discussion led by Greg Galant, co-founder and CEO of Muck Rack, and featuring Gillian Kushner, SVP of Day One Agency; Terry Lynam, consultant and former Head of Communications for Northwell Health; and Andrew Dunn, healthcare reporter at Insider (formerly known as Business Insider).
The discussion kicked off with a look at the rapid change the media industry underwent in 2020. In a single year, tens of thousands of reporters changed roles – some left without a role, some moved to new publications, and many others started their own publishing journey through newsletters, Substack and other channels. This massive shift has left existing media lists in shambles.
To adjust, PR pros must strategically rebuild their media relations programs.
Here are nine ways to successfully increase media interest in your news amid dwindling outlets:
- Create a culturally relevant PR program. To pitch a story today, the story must be relevant to what readers care about in this exact moment. Audience interest in your story can lead to media interest in your story.
- Put the audience first. When pulling together your news package, remember that reporters need earned media assets to cover any story. Companies that provide audience-focused (not marketing) visual supplements to their press releases see higher rates of coverage because they are putting the reporter’s needs first.
- Build relationships with journalists on their new platforms. Many reporters are no longer writing for one specific media outlet. Discover their new interests, new audiences and writing styles now that they are publishing under their own banners.
- Find the right story. Tell the story through the eyes of the reporter’s readers. Understand what they want to read, the cultural stories impacting them and find ways they can connect with your news.
- Choose the vehicle. With so many influential platforms available today, PR pros must decide which one fits the message. From podcasts to Substack to published daily papers, handpicking your platform to launch your news increases the effectiveness of your media relations program.
- Craft the right pitch. Think about your ideal headline and write a pitch that speaks to it. Be succinct, direct and relevant.
- Cut out all the jargon and fluff. Get down to the facts. Reporter relationships are based on trust. "I think a good part of building trust is being upfront and puncturing the hype around any announcement," says Dunn. “That indicates that I can trust you to some extent, and I don't have to triple check every fact in every statement and assertion."
- Prepare your spokesperson. Your spokesperson does not have to be perfect, but able to tell the story behind the story. Bring the reporter into the boardroom to understand the decisions that lead to your news.
- Hold events! Virtual briefings, events, kickoffs and launches are replacing face-to-face meetings – successfully. Use technology to find creative ways to connect reporters with executives and users.
Media relations has never been easy. In fact, in 2021, it is harder than ever. But the decline in reporters does not have to mean a decline in media interest. Communications teams who adopt an audience-first public relations program steeped in cultural relevance and crafted with readers in mind will continue to see strong success.
Download our whitepaper, How to Nurture Media Relationships.
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