Living in a 24-hour, contentious news cycle is hard. People are generally distraught right now, regardless of political or social leaning. And being in the PR business puts us smack dab in the middle of it. It’s like navigating your way through a storm in the middle of the night, white knuckling it the whole way.
In order to do our jobs, we need to reestablish ourselves as allies to our media friends. We are not all just a nuisance filling their email boxes. We offer unique insight into our clients, and we have firsthand knowledge of interesting and important company and organization news. So when handled correctly, it really is a symbiotic relationship.
Those working ridiculous hours in reputable media want to tell stories that matter. That’s what they were trained to do. And our clients have viewpoints, news, and stories that SHOULD be told. So how do we work together to weather this storm and come out the other side better informed and unscathed?
Research and understanding, to start. I do not believe in just sending mass distributions blindly. Just like none of us like to receive them. Media contacts deserve to receive information that matters to them, just like we deserve to be heard when we do our jobs right. So take the time to read what your contacts are writing about. Peruse their social platforms to see what they care about. Then form your pitches accordingly. There is rarely a one-size fits all solution to media relations.
Second, we are ultimately communicators, so we should know how to communicate well. Be it written communications in the form of press releases, email pitches or bylined articles, or verbal communications over the phone or in person, make sure your communications skills are honed. Practice with your peers, have your co-workers edit your work, and role play with your managers. Regardless of hierarchical station, we can ALWAYS learn from each other. Even with social media, there should still be a level of professionalism.
And even when we do it right, there are still going to be hurdles. Recently we have been hearing from media contacts that they find what we are pitching to be interesting, and even important. They tell us they wish they could share our news or stories, but they simply don’t think they will be able to get sign off from their editors or producers because it just isn’t ‘clickable’ enough.
This is when we breathe deep, pivot, and try to work with them to find an angle that is not only factual and informative but will allow our story to rise above the noise. Today’s landscape honestly makes media relations more challenging, but when we see a deserving story in the spotlight where it belongs, the reward is all the sweeter.
Right now it feels like the clouds are never going to part, but they will. Until then though, weathering storms is always more fun when we work together.