An important part of any integrated marketing plan, media relations is built on relationships. While a company pays the public relations and marketing folks to manage media relations, the real key to success is having accessible, well-prepared spokespeople with solid media training.
Here are some tips to help you better train your executives to understand their role in building relationships with the media.
Train your executives on the way deadlines work for journalists and how interviews are often first-come, first-served when a deadline is looming. If a reporter knows an executive will respond in a timely fashion, he or she will likely move up on the list of people called the next time an expert is needed.
Make the Investment
Building relationships with the media takes time, and time is money. An executive who is serious about media relations should be willing to have introductory meetings with reporters or editors without any promise of a story. That’s not wasted time. It’s an investment in the relationship and an opportunity to share your story with the journalist.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
An executive wouldn’t meet an important client or prospect without preparation. The same should be true of reporters. One of the keys to building a relationship with the media is to know the subject matter and know how to present the information. Media relations training should include practice in how to prepare, including developing key talking points and answering hard questions.
Research the Reporter
The best way to build a relationship is to get to know the person. Read some of the reporter’s stories, blogs, or videos. What are the reporter’s hot buttons? What types of stories does the reporter gravitate toward?
Expect Ups and Downs
As with any relationship, sometimes things go your way, and sometimes you have to take a deep breath and move on. At times, you’ll be left out of a story, despite a lengthy interview, or a story may not be as positive as you had wanted. But don’t cut off the relationship. During training, help your executives understand that the reporter’s agenda isn’t the same as your company’s, and maintaining a positive relationship will be worth it in the long run.
Maybe this is a bit obvious, but it’s easy to be a bit apprehensive when the person you are talking to will take your words and share them to a big audience. Welcome the reporter like any guest. Smile. Shake hands. Be interested in what the reporter is saying. If the interview is over the phone, give it your full attention, and don’t multi-task. It will show. Thank the reporter for taking the time to talk with you, and reiterate future availability if anything else comes up.
Media relations is an essential part of integrated marketing communications. The relationships you build with the media will allow you to share your message and your brand with an audience that simply cannot be reached through other forms of communication. If you’d like to discuss more about media training and building relationships with the media as part of your integrated marketing strategy, please contact us.