Media Relations: Know the Facts from the Fiction

Media relations has always been a vital part of a successful communications strategy. What has changed, however, is the way communications professionals must interact with The Media — and, by extension, the bloggers, journalists, freelancers, and syndicated writers who generate coverage.

It is no longer enough to merely send out a mass press release — also known as the “spray and pray method” — and hope that someone working at a relevant media outlet or online site not only reads it, but then acts to convert the release into a story. No, in working with The Media, the expectation is that media relations professionals are educated and informed about proper targeting and evolving trends. This includes building one-on-one relationships with bloggers and journalists, regardless of their title, assigned beat, or outlet/website affiliation.

Beware These Lurking Media Relations Myths
There are many misconceptions floating around (not to mention plain old bad advice) that prevent media relations professionals from optimizing their efforts and connecting with The Media in meaningful ways.

Here are six myths and facts about media relations and how savvy PR practitioners can get a handle on them:

1. You need a “list” of the top blogs in order to send their contributors a press release.

False. This particular misconception is tricky for a couple of reasons. First, the idea that there is a single list of top blogs ignores the fact that the value of any such list varies according to each organization’s media-relations objectives; one size, so to speak, certainly does not fit all. Second, a blogger is not necessarily a member of the credentialed press and, as such is often working without the backing of a large news organization. The result is that, in general, they are often more hard-pressed for time (most are blogging part-time or as a hobby) and, thus, they are less likely to weed through untargeted pitches. Instead, target your blogger outreach to include only the most relevant influencers. And by “influencers,” we mean those people whom you identify as being closely associated with your subject, client, industry, or audience.

2. It’s OK to send an email blast as part of your outreach strategy.

False. Actually, it is anything but OK. For starters, bloggers are unlike the writers for mainstream media in that they do not have a “beat,” their outlet doesn’t necessarily dictate that they write on certain topics, and they are not necessarily bound by geographic limitations. The same also can be said for an increasing number of journalists, as there is a general trend toward producing more hyperlocal and mobile content. Thus, you need to research each and every targeted writer, and customize the pitch accordingly — regardless of their media segment — and understand federal shield laws as they relate to journalists and bloggers.

3. Media relations should take time and resources.

True. Absolutely. If you’re not willing to invest time in proper outreach, how can you expect journalists and bloggers to show a willingness to invest time in considering your pitch or story? A post on the Bad Pitch Blog sums it up best: “Does this read like a lot of work? Well, as the definition of a media outlet morphs, so must our approach to engaging with them. And as more and more bloggers extend the olive branch, the price of a bad pitch is increasing — less coverage, whiny bloggers, angry clients and amused competitors.”

4. As long as the release or pitch includes a lot of information it will get picked up.

False. More than ever, journalists, bloggers, and their audiences are being exposed to information overload. As Seth Godin writes , “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all information, not just the last bit.” Therefore, quality of information is much more important than quantity. Perfect the headline. Lead with the hook. Skip the fluff. Write concise messaging. These measures don’t guarantee that The Media will act on your story, but they can certainly help it stand out from the other information already cluttering email boxes.

5. Search engine optimization is important.

True. SEO is crucial for successful media relations. In fact, 91 percent of journalists search Google for stories or other relevant material, while another 89 percent use blogs and still another 64 percent rely on social networks, as noted in this post from BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blogger, Tressa Robbins. Understand the impact of industry terms and their effects on search and traffic to your website. Always include relevant keywords in your copy as they relate to your target audience and how they search. But do not confuse SEO with jargon.

6. Learning never stops.

Even if you are a senior communications or media relations professional at your organization, you must always be aware of new trends and developments in the industry and be willing to shift your efforts accordingly. Things are constantly changing and if you are not willing to keep up with those changes you cannot expect that your campaigns will be effective and gain the respect of your audience, The Media, and your peers.

Understanding BurrellesLuce ContactsPlus
BurrellesLuce ContactsPlus is revolutionizing the way PR professionals interact with bloggers and The Media. ContactsPlus is a media research tool that allows communications practitioners to target their efforts so that they are connecting with only the most relevant journalists and bloggers, based on a writer’s most recent body of work. Stop building lists and start building relationships. Learn more about the BurrellesLuce Media Outreach module of WorkFlow™ and schedule a demo, today.

About BurrellesLuce

Taking control of every stage of your media planning, monitoring, and reporting needs is simple and effective with BurrellesLuce. Our comprehensive suite of affordable services is fully integrated in one convenient and easy-to-use portal, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™ . Incorporate and review your traditional print, broadcast, online and social media results in one report. Research and engage journalists and bloggers, and intelligently plan future campaigns. Build and manage social media communities. WorkFlow gives you everything you need to start organizing and managing your media relations and public relations results.

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