How to Forge a Positive Relationship with the Media
You might have outstanding talent, or an amazing product or service, a clever PR plan, and a healthy PR budget to make it happen. But if you don’t have a good relationship with the press, then quite frankly, it’s not gonna happen.
Since it’s very much a symbiotic relationship, getting on well with the press is a must in the world of PR. If they like you, they’ll respond better to what you’re doing. And if you’ve burnt bridges and they don’t like you, there’s every chance they’ll ignore you – or worse, try to take you down. And that goes for both clients and PR pros.
So how do you keep the press sweet, and build a positive, long-lasting relationship with them?
This might seem painfully obvious, but there’s no point being frosty with the press. Even when they’re difficult to deal with, it’s important to remember that they’re humans too, and you should go about treating them with the same politeness and respect as anyone else – even if you’re not getting it back.
That’s not to say you should ever be a pushover or pander to them of course. But if you’re easy and pleasant to work with, it will only ever benefit you.
If you want the media to trust you, always be your authentic self, especially if you are the brand, after all, that’s who you’re promoting. Editors and journalists are no-nonsense bloodhounds when it comes to sniffing out insincerity and know a media-trained façade when they see one. Be polished but show your personality.
Of course, there is a line. If you don’t like who you’re dealing with and find yourself wanting to roll your eyes, argue or walk out of an interview, it’s vital you resist the temptation.
Being transparent isn’t the same as being yourself. Being transparent with the media means being forthcoming, open, and most importantly honest. It’ll build respect in the short run, and trust in the long run – exactly what you need for a long and strong working relationship.
Withholding information or diverting from it, especially if it’s perceived as scandalous, paves the way for a PR crisis. And when you get found out, the press are only going to want to dig for more dirt. Being upfront, honest and human is nearly always the best way to handle difficult situations (especially when you’ve made a mistake) and it’s usually received better by both the press AND the public.
Don’t waste their time
Time is money, especially in the fast-paced world of journalism where many people are working on a freelance basis. Add to that tight deadlines, pressure from editors and caffeine jitters, and you quickly realise why messing them about isn’t going to win you any favours.
So if you’ve got an interview, show up on time. If you need to call them for an interview, make it short, sweet and get to the point pronto. And above all, be mindful of the fact that they’re usually up against it.
Don’t nag them
If you’ve sent a press release, it’s tempting to make a follow-up phone call as it’s pinged across. Don’t. There’s a very clear line between being persistent and being an irritant. Try to keep the bulk of your contact restricted to emails and keep the phone calls to a minimum. If they don’t get back to you immediately, don’t fret. Most journos get bombarded with press releases on a daily basis and it might take a while to see yours.
If they chose not to run with your story, accept it, don’t challenge it. The best way to get yourself into the media’s bad books is by harassing them relentlessly (which will obviously have the opposite effect as intended). Your best course of action is to try your luck with someone else.
Don’t forget you need them more than they need you
Yes, your story might be delicious enough to get hits, views, or sell magazines for a media outlet. But in return you get publicity, which is oftentimes the better deal – and most journalists aren’t going to let you forget that in a hurry.
As a whole, the media are pretty intolerant towards people who are unpleasant, mess them around, or are otherwise uncooperative. If it’s more effort than it’s worth, then they won’t hesitate to drop your story and follow up on another one instead. So always be mindful of that and be grateful.
It takes time to build relationships with the media. Which is why it pays to work with a PR pro. Get in touch with PR Superstar and I’ll work my magic.