Building Good Relations with the Media: The Dos and Don’ts

Some PR’s may claim “personal media contacts” are the key to successful PR. Exercising these media contacts may involve them charging meals and drinks to your account. Don’t entertain this notion. Good PR is about developing a sound professional relationship with journalists - that means providing them with the information and opportunities they need to interest their readers. Following are ten things you should do and five things not to do if you want to cultivate good relations with media.

Ten Things You Should Do

1. Tell your PR your company history. By gaining an understanding of your past, your PR company can be more sensitive in putting PR plans into action.
2. Outline the guiding philosophy. This may be contained in the mission statement.
3. Outline the key objectives of the current business plan. Agree how PR can support these.
4. Provide access to senior management. Gaining the co-operation of everyone involved is vital. Delegating liaison with your PR company to an office junior will not prove effective in the long-term.
5. Tell all. If there is any unfortunate history to the business, issues that affect it or emerging problems, the PR company can deal with this more effectively if it is known. Likewise, if there are exciting developments it is better to be briefed in good time than to deal with them at short notice.
6. Brief all your people about the appointment of the PR company. Emphasise the importance of providing timely information and signing off copy promptly.
7. Allow adequate time for activities. Though online media reacts very quickly, editorial issued today may not appear in print for two to three months and the lead times for some journals can be even longer. Planning for events like exhibitions need to start at least six months in advance.
8. Treat any enquiries from the press seriously. Editors do prefer to speak to senior figures, they do wish to talk to you, not your PR company.
9. Ask your PR company to source appropriate training. If you feel uncomfortable dealing with press or broadcast media there are many good training companies - ask your PR company to source one for you.
10. Encourage co-operation. Especially, between your PR company, advertising agents, graphic designers, web designers and other external support agencies. This can often lead to more cost effective programmes due to sharing of resources, greater creativity and better synchronisation of delivery.

Five Things You Should Not Do

1. Don't keep your PR company in the dark. PR is an information driven service.
2. Don't leave everything to the very last minute. Timely copy approval, commissioning of photography or briefing on an important development is essential. Editors will not delay publication and do not repeat opportunities.
3. Don't change key objectives part way through a programme. Your PR needs to be consistent over time, so messages reinforce each other.
4. Don't cut agreed budgets or suspend programmes mid point. If you flag up any difficulties you PR company can often refocus and prioritise so that core objectives are still supported.
5. Don't let grievances fester. If you are unhappy about any aspect of your PR company's work, tell them and allow them to explain what they are doing and why, or suggest alternative approaches.

This article was written by Adrian Maguire, co-founder of It originally appeared on