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The News Chair

Keep Your Relationships Real

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

Having worked in both the media and PR/marketing industries, I may have somewhat of a unique perspective in knowing what the local news media wants from a PR professional’s perspective. That can be an asset when advising clients about how to cultivate a positive relationship with the media.

In my days as a former news producer for a local TV station, I would get a barrage of email pitches, news releases and phone calls about possible story ideas to cover. Sometimes I got frustrated when people calling the station didn’t take notice of what time of day it was — a half hour before the news was to start! I didn’t have time to listen to them talk about their community garage sale that weekend or the PR professional trying to push a client’s product on me.

Today, on the PR side, I know what an important task it is to keep all your relationships real — with clients, colleagues … and of course the media. I work each day to stay in touch with clients and make sure we are taking steps to achieving their goals. As a team at Coles, we all work internally with each other to make sure we are hands on with each client and develop real relationships and lasting partnerships.

I also strive to pass along some important tips to our clients in making the most of their relationship with the media, in order to obtain those coveted media hits.

  • Think before you send. Think about what position you are taking when pitching your story to the media. Find an angle that is relevant to a timely topic or event, and make sure you are pitching an actual newsworthy idea. [*Note: A community garage sale is usually not newsworthy … unless it’s a REALLY slow news day.]
  • Reach out to the right person in the right way. Don’t contact the local TV news medical reporter if your story doesn’t have a medical angle. This may seem like a given, but no media person wants to be pitched knowing the person sending the pitch has no idea what they do and what stories they cover.
  • Don’t follow up … over and over. Avoid sending an email pitch, and then following up with a phone call, and another email, and another phone call. One follow-up email or call after the original email is enough. If you don’t get a response, try a different story angle, or move on to another outlet.
  • Always respond to a media request! Quickly and efficiently is the best way. If you finally get a bite on your story for your company or your client, make sure to respond! The media has a definite deadline each and every day. If you don’t respond quickly to their request for an interview, you will miss your opportunity. They will move on to someone else for an interview — possibly your competitor. The quicker you respond and the more often you give the media an easy interview experience with a great interviewer, the more often they will come back to you as a resource!
  • Take an interest in a media person as a person. Did a certain reporter come to your business to cover your story? Take the time to thank them, post their story on your company’s Facebook page, connect with them on Twitter, etc. Learn about them as a person, and cultivate a real, positive relationship with them. Remember: that media person took the time and interest in your company or organization for a story. Take the time and interest in them and what they do.

Here are a few good reads about the media-PR relationship:

The Journalist and the PR Pro: A Broken Marriage?

How to deal with PR’s sweatiest moments

Relationships between PR and Journalists Have Changed Forever

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