Building Media Relationships that Matter
December 4, 2014
December 4, 2014
My older brother and I have a long-running joke; whenever he calls and exclaims, “How’s my favorite sis today?!” … I respond dryly with, “What do you need now?” Since I am his ONLY sister, we both know only a favor request can follow a syrupy, disingenuous line like that!
Our tongue-in-cheek jabbing is laughable because, of course, we have a relationship beyond favor requests. Unfortunately, the above scenario is often to blame when a media pitch goes wrong. What’s missing is the “relationship” part of the pitch.
Building relationships with individual reporters and editors is too often overlooked until you need them to cover a news event, run a press release or portray your company positively during a crisis situation. If you have not already built trust and confidence in your company with news writers and on social channels before a crisis, the negative angle will likely be the headline. Companies can’t afford to wait for a fire, explosion or accident to meet the reporters who will write about it.
Crisis communication plans are imperative to have in place ahead of a potential crisis and provide the roadmap for what actions to take when a crisis is happening. But media relationship building must begin long before a crisis communication plan is in motion.
Imagine a crisis hits your company today. Can you pick up the phone and call a reporter that you have built a relationship with to offer the first interview? Will your social community go viral to support you?
Engaging with media professionals and social communities is actually very similar to cultivating relationships with co-workers, family and friends. Investing time in learning about a reporter’s interests, needs and what they are writing about is a good first step. This insight builds a bridge to connect with the reporter about something other than a company press release.
Here are more tactics to start building media relationships that matter:
Fostering relationships with media professionals takes effort and engagement in a similar way personal relationships do. But it’s worth it when you call to make a request or your company is in crisis and the reporter’s first thought isn’t, “What do you need now?”