Media Relations is Not a Battle
Journalists and public relations professionals share an interesting interdependent relationship. It can be argued that PR pros need reporters more than they need us, but I’ve also talked to plenty of journalists who say getting pitches and press releases is critical to doing their jobs.
It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Unfortunately, not all parties view it that way.
I once interviewed for a job at a hospital where the PR director told me he tries to tell the press as little as possible. He disliked journalists and believed they were an impediment to the function of public relations.
A former boss once told me that media relations is “warfare” and that any interaction between reporters and PR people is a battle. And she was a former newspaper reporter no less.
I’ve also attended plenty of panel discussions wherein journalists tell horror stories of being pestered by PR folks, spammed with useless press releases, and cussed out when they did not run a story.
When practiced correctly, good media relations create a win-win scenario whereby both the journalist and the PR pro get something out of a story being published or broadcast. More often than not, that “something” is information that is valuable and useful to the target audience.
When pitching stories, I often mention “Here’s something I think your audience would be interested in.” I also try to learn about specific journalists’ favorite topics, angles and means of being contacted. And I politely thank them when they tell me they’re not interested in my pitch or press release.
I don’t take it personally, and I know that breaking news, impending deadlines, shrinking newsrooms, scheduling conflicts, and absences due to furloughs and vacations – all things I can’t control – can impact the likelihood of getting media coverage.
The more that journalists and PR pros learn about each others’ jobs, the better we can work together toward mutually beneficial outcomes.