4 Media Relations Tips That Transcend Platforms

There's no doubt about it, today's journalists are challenged more than ever before. Reduced media budgets have increased their responsibilities while the rise of digital and social media has them posting to websites, blogging and tweeting on a regular basis.

What does this mean for the communications professional? They need to be more sensitive to journalists' needs. There are, however, some tried-and-true media relations tactics that transcend all media platforms. Here are four that PR News collected from the experts.

Give Reporters a Human Touch: Pitch journalists with stories that have a human element. Even within a product pitch, that humanity will likely touch reporters. "Rather than quoting a senior executive about a product, find customers who will talk about its benefits to them," says Tom Unger, VP and regional communications manager at Wells Fargo.

Share Your Research With Reporters: Keep on-hand statistics, facts, names, phone numbers, historical data, community resources and any other information you can compile that’s relevant to your business or client, and share it willingly to help the reporter out. "They'll turn to you again and again for expertise and insight," says Elaine Shapiro Zamansky, media relations manager at the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.

Provide Journalists With Fact Sheets: Scott Harris, public affairs specialist for military and international programs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says to prevent misquotes giving reporters fact sheets before an interview—particularly with technical stories that quote scientists and academics. "The general public wouldn’t even spot the inaccuracy, but the scientist doesn’t want his peers to think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about," Harris says. In addition, offer to fact check the story.

Seek Out Citizen Journalist Platforms: In this day and age of social media, top industry influencers can be easily found. Communicators should seek out these citizen journalists and foster relationships with them. "PR professionals should provide them with content with links and access to additional information," says Cheryl Ann Lambert, assistant public relations professor at Boston University’s College of Communication.

For more strategies, tactics and tips on media relations, attend the
PR News Media Relations Next Practices Conference on Nov. 30 at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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  • Joan Stewart

    Scott, these 4 tips are fabulous. And I can’t remember seeing them anywhere. I particularly like the “share your research” tip. Nice job.

    May I add one more to your list? Ask the question, “How can I help you?” You might be very surprised at the answer.

  • mark grimm

    Agree on research. Reporters often don’t have time to do research, so do some digging for them and be sure to have it all laid out for them. Keep it simple and clear.