What is media relations?

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Media Relations focuses on the importance of retaining certain levels of control when it comes to a company’s contact with the media. This includes all the ways in which an organisation interact with the news media such as relationships formed with journalists, responsibilities for social media accounts and monitoring as well as maintaining contacts.

It’s crucial to make sure that those within a company or organisation speak with one unified voice when it comes to key matters – and even more so when it comes to crisis management. It wasn’t until after reading Chapter 3 of John Doorely and Helio Fred Garcia’s ‘Reputation Management’ that I truly understood the importance of centralised media relations. “Different people speak from different perspectives, using different vocabulary, and based on different levels of knowledge about an issue. The result can be confusion, inaccurate communication and repetitional harm.” Consequently, we have to limit the passage of communication with the media to professionals only. If nobody knows what to say in a time of crisis, it can be damaging to the most squeaky clean of reputations because it tends to look suspicious or misleading if a singular organisation has several differing voices instead of one integrated one.

Organisations today need their press offices to function at a rapid pace, noticing and modifying criticisms of their organisation within the media almost instantly after negative coverage has occurred. As a result of this, the key to effective media relations is ultimately to show your story in a light in which you’re providing something unusual and interesting rather than something dry and informative.

As well as all of this, you also have your client to think about. You must make sure that the work you’re doing is measurable. Traditionally this would’ve been physically measuring column inches achieved; today it’s measured in clicks, impressions and views. With most of this measurable work being outsourced to cutting agencies, it’s much more complex in today’s media landscape than it used to be. This only strengthens the fact that everything in media relations must be integrated now.

PR and media relations are both ultimately about timing, I have spoken about this before on my blog in relation to catching the right channels of influence at the right time (you can read that post here). But this is a fundamental ideology that delves deeper than influence. If you can time your story to fit in with other cultural or social events in the world, it can enable your organisation to blossom. This is achievable by designing compelling stories that journalists or bloggers are interested in picking up. As a side note – you need to be prepared for the fact that unfortunately, negative news travels faster than positive news when it comes to news outlets. This is precisely why it’s so fundamental to work an alternative or slightly unusually interesting angle to your clients story.

Whilst there’s a thin line between public relations and media relations, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that everything is becoming integrated. It’s a widespread trend seen across all communications sectors today, one that will surely only continue to grow in both the near and distant future.

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