Reflect & Relate: Eight Factors for Successful Media Relationships

29 08 2012

(Guest post by Account Coordinator Jaclyn Reardon)

As I celebrate my one-year anniversary at Bianchi PR and my first year in the PR industry I’ve come to realize a major part of the firm’s success after 20 years stems from the relationships the BPR team has developed with industry peers and (especially) with the media.

So, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far and create a “back to the basics” list as a reminder of how important starting, developing and keeping relationships with the media can be.

1. Get to Know Them

In any new relationship, you always ask questions about the other person in order to get to know them better. Getting to know the reporter you’re pitching is just the same. Research the publication and the reporter’s articles to figure out what beats they cover and make sure your story will be of interest.

 2. First Impressions

Your first time contacting or meeting a reporter, whether it’s in person or by email, sets the tone for your relationship. Make sure you have your ducks in a row. Reporters are always working on tight deadlines, so you don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

 3. Show What You Have to Offer

Start with a specific opportunity and stick with the facts. Reporters don’t have the time to go through long pages of text. If you have a strong, news story don’t inflate it with filler and fluff. Get to the point.

 4. Exclusivity

When pitching a reporter it’s important to be exclusive. Avoid pre-packaged stories. Reporters have competition (just like you do) and tend to look for stories they can develop as their own.

 5. Invest Time and Energy

To be successful in media relations, you need to focus on making your relationship with a reporter grow. It may be a while before your pitch. The first time you pitch a story, they might not be interested. Try to find out why and keep at it. Read what they write, follow their work.

 6. Follow-up

If your pitch is a success and you get an article/interview opportunity, be sure to follow-up as soon as possible. Provide any additional information they need or asked for…and don’t forget to thank the reporter.

 7. Take Initiative / Plan Ahead

A reporter will almost always have more questions or need more quotes, images, examples, facts or figures for the story. Always think across the board – from words to visuals. Have these materials ready and easy to access. This will continue to build a stronger relationship if they know they can count on you to come through.

 8. Communication is Key

Be available and responsive. Reporters are busy, so be quick and ready to respond to inquiries and requests that same day – if not within the hour.

Relationships with the media are the same as any others. What you put in is what you get out. You have to work at them. It takes time and effort, but the reality is you should treat media the same as you would treat a client, because in a sense, they are your customers.

Where Did THAT Reporter’s Question Come From?

21 08 2012

Your news conference is tomorrow. You’ve prepared for all kinds of questions around your announcement topic. You’ve nailed your key messages. You’ve rehearsed your speech. You’ve prepared your press materials. You’ve learned a little about each reporter who will attend your event. So you’re all set, right?

Right … but ONLY if you prepared for the unexpected … the off-topic question that comes out of left field.

Frequently, PR folks and the executives they support focus so intently on the subject of their news conference, on getting the key messages just right and being able to handle the tough questions related to their newsworthy topic, that they forget about being ready for those crazy questions that can come out of left field … and can throw an otherwise well-prepared executive off his or her game.

How often does it happen? More often than you might think.

I was surprised to note that, for the past few news conferences I’ve attended, one-half of the questions that reporters asked had no direct connection with the main topic of the event.  And in a few cases, the speakers were a bit rattled by these off-beat questions.

Although you may have organized your event to announce your news, reporters often have their own agenda – and their own story – in mind.

Although they may accept your invitation to attend your news event, you cannot expect that reporters will limit their curiosity to the subject of your announcement.

They can, and often will, use your event as an opportunity to gain access to your executive … to pose a question that has nothing to do with your news.

So, to keep your executive from getting tripped up by an off-topic question, we suggest you:

1)      Make sure to include a few potential off-beat questions for your speaker(s) in your pre-event briefing Q&A document;

2)      Conduct a mock Q&A session, complete with a few off-topic questions, as part of your speaker rehearsal – to help the speaker(s) learn to retain composure and control in unexpected situations;

3)      Identify, if possible, which reporters might be most likely to ask the off-beat question, based on your (or your PR agency’s) knowledge and experience; and

4)      Have your speaker(s) practice the use of bridging techniques to smoothly transition from the reporter’s odd-ball question to one of your key messages.

The key is to prepare your speaker to handle the “unexpected” with confidence and composure.  For more help on dealing with difficult media questions, see .

Everyone Reads Pictures: 5 Photo-related Tips for Greater PR Success

13 08 2012

(Post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

I’ve got a confession.

I don’t like to read. Never have (even though I wish I did). I can remember two times in my life where I got grounded. First, for failing to do a book report in grade school, because I refused to read the assigned book. And the second … well I’ll keep that one to myself. However, I do enjoy “reading pictures,” about as much as I enjoy taking them.

In these fast-paced times, where a click of a mouse or a tap of a finger on a cell phone can lead you to more information then you may have ever wanted on a particular subject, it’s critical to make your news stand out.

Images can help you do this.

I asked one of my favorite freelance reporters (who at the onset of all interview requests always asks for images) to share his thoughts on the importance of images to telling a story, Here’s what he had to say:

Most of the magazines I write for won’t run a product or short news story without a photo. I won’t start writing that type of article until I have an image, so some good articles have fallen to less interesting ones for lack of art.

For features, we like to use several images for an article. When different people say roughly the same thing, I’ll often pick the comments I use based on who supplied art to go with the comments. We usually pick the best image to open the article, the first company mentioned will be the one tied to that image.

So let’s not allow your news fall to less interesting status just because of a lack of images.

Here are five photo-related PR tips that can help you achieve greater PR success:

  1. Hire a professional. But that costs money! Yes, but it will be money well spent. If you’ve invested the time and energy to develop a product, host an event, make an announcement, etc., then it’s certainly worthy of the cost of a professional.
  2.  Include an editor’s note or link. Rather than attach a large image file to the release that you email to a reporter / editor who has not specifically requested the image, put an “editor’s note” at the bottom of your news release stating where images can be obtained or provide a link to your website media center’s image bank. 
  3. Meet the publications’ size & format specifications. Publications each have their own set of guidelines, so be sure to check them out. Most will require you to provide a high-resolution image at 300 dpi (dots per inch) in a JPEG or TIF file format, so that the image can be manipulated by using photo editing software for print.
  4. Provide a cutline. Many publications will require not only an image to tell the story, but also a cutline to accompany it. Make sure the cutline provides context, is concise and includes the all-important “who, what, when, where and why.” And, if there are people in the photo, be sure to provide the correct spelling of their names and titles. 
  5. Extend your media list. Did you know that many online publications and online versions of print and broadcast media allow you to upload your own information and images and they will appear on their site in an instant? So, consider doing some homework and developing a go-to photo submission media list.

And one final bonus tip: If you can’t afford a professional photographer, hire the next best thing … a photography student. If you’re working for a non-profit and your budget simply will not allow for a professional, contact your local creative arts college to see if a photography student may be willing to donate some time to cover your event / announcement. As a result, you’ll get higher quality images and they’ll get samples for their portfolio. A win-win.

Remember: To maximize your PR success, picture this!


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