On several occasions I have come across people who take the profession of Public Relations (PR) for granted, even to the extent of belittling it. They say ignorance is bliss!
There is also this misplaced belief that anybody can do PR. Others assume that the job entails nothing more than just looking pretty and presentable to the public! Luckily, PR professionals do not deal in assumptions. You cannot afford to make assumptions when it comes to delivering client expectations.
Similarly, publications sometimes struggle with the relevance of PR agencies. For those I have interacted with, the assumption is we keep taking (demand for coverage) and not giving back anything in return. Yet one of our roles is to create mutual relationships among the media and our clients. In fact, if editors could, they would block our numbers and emails!
So how do you keep the media coming back to your door step?
Know your publications
Publications have different angles of interest when it comes to crafting a story. Their strategies of relaying information to the public vary and so when approaching the editor’s desk, put that into consideration.
One of the most annoying things for editors is when you pitch articles without making the effort to understand how they work. Remember editors are the unsung heroes behind every published article.
Therefore, take the time to know the editor’s desk, that way you are not simply asking for support in publishing your stories, but you are also providing valuable content that will interest readers. This then becomes a win-win a relationship.
Value addition / Adding perspective
On the other hand, relationships are only great when there is value addition. Media houses are busy and in between publishing and following up myriad stories, editors may not necessary have the time to back check your article.
Make sure your pieces are informative, but also enjoyable to read. Most importantly, be available when needed for clarification while at the same time being meticulous in responding to their queries. An editor and journalist will always value and respect you for this.
Cultivate a culture
Every organization is a community of people. Communities have cultures in most cases rooted in common values. As an agency or company, what is your culture? How do you interact with publications? Is it that you will pay your way up to getting a story published or is it that you have made a conscious choice to provide relevant information or articles to publications?
When you send a written piece to an editor, do you give them a window of exclusivity or do you want to control the narrative? Find that one thing that works well in getting you consistent results while fulfilling both your needs. Be known and respected for it.
Relationships on trust
Since there is considerable exchange in information, there has got to be trust between you and publications.
We all know how delicate information is and when you trust the editor or journalist, a relationship is automatically built over time. You find that they will also approach you in turn, most importantly even give you a heads up on an upcoming negative story on your client. We need to create situations where we are valued by the media. Putting our immediate needs at times on hold is one way to go and consider looking at the bigger picture. To the editors you become dependable and reliable. It is our responsibility as PR practitioners to constantly show publications our relevance in the industry. We have got to be insightful and also provide exclusivity from time to time (like a one-on-one with the CEO).
At the end of the day everybody is happy.