why you need a media relations strategy
Establishing a strong, recognized brand requires clear messaging that consistently projects your voice and personality into the world. Without a strategic roadmap or a tight messaging document, your C-suite experts and thought leaders can follow different tangents in media interviews and reports. This fractures your message into threads that don’t share an underlying, consistent beat that ties everything together under a single brand.
Developing a media relations strategy combines strong messaging with a deep understanding of an organization’s news flow, so that your key pitches are heard at the right time and generate the breakthrough coverage that you seek.
planning for a consistent, long-term approach
Understanding your organization’s news flow requires looking ahead to the current year and anticipating the news you want to share. This can be everything from key hires, product announcements and launches, studies and reports, funding and grant awards, and advocacy or conference appearances.
With that list compiled, each piece of news can then be put into a different bucket in a PR editorial calendar, with a cadence based on the organization’s budget and its news flow. Identifying gaps in the calendar allows space to fill with materials like contributed articles, op-eds and curated content.
Media relations is about planning to create a snowball. Not everything piece of news is worthy of sending a press release to reporters’ inboxes. Other efforts like curated content, making your thought leaders available to comment on trending news topics, and media tours are effective ways to turn interest into meaningful conversations and get reporters to lean in.
becoming a trusted source for reporters
A successful media relations strategy requires identifying gaps in your company’s media experience and providing the training and insight to prepare for engaging reporters and prepping a solid news flow.
Does your organization understand what it takes to get the attention of the media? Do they know how to translate professional and technical jargon into simpler words the general public understands? Do they know how to anticipate questions and refocus a conversation on key themes and core messages?
This is all prep work. When opportunities present themselves, you can capitalize. For example, when one of your company’s topic areas of expertise trends in the news, you’ll know how to insert yourself into the public discussion and make your company standout without coming across as self-serving or purely promotional. Your messaging shouldn’t be chest-beating self-aggrandizement. Instead, it should be able to elucidate a solution to a problem— a solution that your company happens to offer.
Staying ready so you don’t have to get ready
With a strong plan in place that anticipates topics and preps your company with key messaging, your PR team—monitoring the pulse of your industry—should be ready to jump on what is happening within your company’s space at any given time. When a Help-A-Reporter-Out inquiry is spotted, your company is ready to react in a moment’s notice.
For example: Inspire worked with a nonprofit that offers respite and care to pastors. The media picked up on a survey that revealed 46% pastors of pastors under the age of 45 were considering quitting due to burnout. We were able to quickly get the nonprofit’s leader connected with journalists to provide greater understanding of the issue, while gaining awareness about the nonprofit and its mission.
The media is like any other consumer, and an episodic, loose approach won’t achieve results. That’s why this preparation hits a steady drum beat to attract reporters to your brand and conveys the value you can provide as an expert source.
why media relations agencies succeed where internal teams fail
One of the most common pitfalls for companies is creating media fatigue around the brand. That’s why planning and an editorial calendar with varying buckets of content is crucial to success. Sending a press release for every piece of news, or fluff releases without a news hook or angle that’s timely and relevant, is a path to getting sent automatically to a spam folder.
Agencies not only undertake this work, but also have established relationships with reporters—not just their email and office number, but their cell phone number—and an understanding of their beat, their interests and their editorial direction.
Not every news piece gets a bite the first time; however, when you can consistently put out solid, valuable and quality material over time, that’s what will draw people in, seek your input and grow your brand’s recognition.