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Mastering Media Relationships: How to Become a Journalist’s Go-To Source

The work of media members and PR professionals has been intertwined since the beginning of both professions and as the media landscape evolves, it directly affects how we, as PR pros, conduct our own work. We must remain in tune with media members as we manage our clients’ individual communications strategies to foster strong, long-standing relationships that result in quality coverage.

As of May 2022, there are nearly six PR pros for every one journalist. Considering that most PR professionals work on three to six accounts daily, it’s no surprise that 50% of journalists receive one to five pitches daily. While most journalists do cover over five stories a week, they cannot write or produce every story idea they receive, and many pitches will go uncovered and even completely unanswered.

Like nearly every other aspect of our world, the pandemic left lasting impacts on the media industry. While most media used to cover only one or two beats, significant staff size reductions since 2020 have left most media professionals covering an average of four beats. Because they are now juggling multiple coverage areas (many that are outside of their typical beat) and producing more content each week, media have less time to devote to finding information and sources than they used to. 

Ensuring that you are a journalist’s go-to source will make your job and their job easier. Here are UPRAISE’s tips for mastering media relationships, connecting with media partners in a meaningful way and becoming a journalist’s go-to source: 

Think Strategically

Take a second to think about the primary function of a PR professional. While tasks such as drafting press releases and media alerts might come to mind as a substantial part of your job, they do not represent where the true value of your work lies. The actual value is the fundamental media relationships, the perfectly curated lists made over hours of research and thinking ethically to provide recommendations and improve your clients’ chances of publication. PR pros are the middleman that ensures everyone gets what they want on both sides, and that a quality story is published that makes our clients happy.

As previously mentioned, media receive a massive amount of pitches each week. Generic email blasts are becoming increasingly apparent to the receiver, and can frustrate media and hinder your future chances of connecting with that journalist again. No one likes receiving spam emails. A thoughtfully drafted email to a handful of friendlies will always go farther in the long run than an email blast to hundreds of people. 

Taking time to fully understand the scope of the story you are pitching, the beat of media you are reaching out to and how the story might change or fit with what they are working on will create more trust and rapport with those you pitch. 

Understand the Media Landscape 

With smaller staff sizes and more stories expected each week from journalists, many media are pre-packed with stories for weeks. Checking in with media friendlies on basic aspects of their job, like what their work environment is like now, any new beats they’ll be covering, what their expected deadlines are each week or month, and how many stories they’re expected to write each month will show them that you value their work and time, and really want to understand how to best work with them. Additionally, it will ensure that your pitches are reaching them in the right way and you are giving them enough lead time to provide coverage. 

Be Human and Relate

AI or corporate copywriters can easily produce basic content. At its core, our job is public relations. With a slew of tech communications and writing tools available today, it has become more common for PR pros to sacrifice real human connection for perceived higher productivity.

While fundamental tactics like phone calls or 1:1 meetings with journalists might seem old school and outdated (and will always take longer than a spray-and-pray email pitch), making a human-level connection is essential. Having that connection keeps in perspective that, at its core, our relationship with media is just two people trying to do their job and do it well. Media professionals are our partners; every story you pitch should feel like you’re working with the journalist to ensure the best possible result. 

Without the media, PR professionals would not have a job. We could pivot to marketing consultants, copywriters or internal communications, but without media relations, there is no public relations. Establishing and continually fostering media relations will serve many benefits, including ensuring more quality coverage, creating more open conversations with media partners, and empowering you to provide clients with more acute communications recommendations. 

To learn more about how UPRAISE can help your organization connect with the media in a meaningful way, contact us today!

Mastering Media Relationships: How to Become a Journalist's Go-To Source

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