Dear members of the media,
You are my best friend, the ying to my yang, the PB to my J–and I love you…NOW RUN MY STORY.
I have no problem admitting; Public Relations professionals are nothing without the support of the media. If investors are the sugar daddy, then members of the media are our best friends. Before I go any further, let me clarify who exactly classifies as “media.” I’m talking about print journalists, TV news reporters, bloggers (sometimes), and publicists.
They are there in good times and in bad, whether we like it or not. PR professionals and the media often work together, but like all friendships, it is important to have an equal sharing of support.
In Adventures in Public Relations, my boys Guth and Marsh say it best, “although reporters are not the only target public important to your organizations, they sometimes are the most important.” The best PR practitioners understand this fact and do not abuse their relationships with members of the media. One of the biggest mistakes a PR professional can make is bombarding reporters with useless information. It’s about the quality and not quantity of the pitch.
Female activist, Martha Burk, learned this the hard way when she tried to protest the Augusta National Golf Club back in 2002. The club prohibits female membership and Martha did not like that one bit. Her campaign to news media and advertisers was moderately successful until she started grasping at straws with this little statement, “It’s appalling when women who are willing to lay down their lives for democratic ideals should be shut out of this club.” Members of the news media, and public alike, felt this argument was a distasteful ploy to gain publicity. The American Journalism Review printed a great article about the debacle and whether it deserved all of the media coverage it garnered. I know it’s long, but it offers insight from the journalists’ perspectives!
Media Relations is closely knit in the world of PR. With that in mind, the Harvard Business Journal recently printed an article, “Your PR Efforts May Be Hurting You,” warning practitioners to be careful of how they conduct their media relations. The author, former journalist Alex Goldfayn, says that PR professionals are sending out bulk emails and letting true relationships fall to the wayside. Similarly, he says (in nicer terms) press releases today suck. Goldfayn suggests that a lack of understanding and communication within organizations can lead to poor representation of a company’s image.
**This is the part where I shamelessly plug my previous journal entry about employee relations.**
What are the best ways to ensure your message is heard through all the chatter? And how much is too much in a world buzzing with twats who tweet about the latest trends? Should the PRSA provide some kind of “newsworthy” checklist for professionals?
Let’s face it, we live in a society where relationships are nurtured through our laptops and iPads. PR professionals should never underestimate the power of a good phone call or cup of coffee among friends. When was the last time you called your media BFF and said, “OMG, you’re never going to believe what happened!”