Opinion: Mastering the basics of media relations

Thanks to technology and social platforms, media is accessible, almost everywhere and, in theory, can be used by every brand. So why do many businesses ignore the basics of media relations, ask Vikki Cook and Adam Waters of Media 101.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less” – Marie Curie


Adam Waters

It’s strange to think that in this socially-driven 21st century, the media industry can still seem intimidating to those who work outside of it. We live in an era where we are surrounded by platforms on which people can make themselves seen and heard.

More and more companies want to work with publishers and journalists to promote their business, or products, but simply don’t know how to. Or even where to begin.

But, even those who work in the industry face challenges when trying to do their jobs. A recent survey conducted by Press Gazette and PR Week showed that some journalists and PRs – two media tribes who have to work together – have mutually low opinions of each other.

Thanks to pressures on that most valuable of resources, time, PR and marketing professionals rarely get a chance to learn how newsrooms work. Journalists, also, can be quick to criticise when they feel misunderstood.

In addition, both journalists and PRs are creating and supplying content, to meet a constant consumer demand, with a never-ending set of deadlines. Time constraints mean they don’t get the chance to build good relationships with outside groups and organisations. Access to the world via a keyboard means that much of the invaluable art of building ‘one to one’ relationships has eroded. Understandably, many people are now wary of the media.

So how can people work with the media to promote themselves while this culture divide continues to grow?

There are four key areas that you need to focus on if you want to make the most of the opportunities media provides your brand and business:

Network: It’s important to develop access and insight into the media world, how it works and what makes the people in it ‘tick’. Networking is essential as you build great contacts and learn how to make your network work with you.

Audience knowledge: It takes confidence to work directly with the media and a key way to develop that confidence is by growing your own understanding and knowledge. Ultimately, you need to understand what journalists and media outlets are looking for and how to give them what they want, while communicating your own message.

Build a profile: It won’t happen overnight, but there are essential tips to utilise and skills to develop which will help you create a higher media profile for yourself and your brand.

Storytelling: ‘Good enough’ content is not good enough. You must always be looking to create great content. To do this, you need to learn the art of good storytelling. It must be at the heart of everything you do. In such a crowded market, you want ‘stand out’ content, that will set you apart from your competitors.

As even experienced professionals usually have one or two media subjects they don’t feel confident in, it will always help to research and understand more about these four key areas, and you’ll find there is less reason to fear media.

Vikki Cook and Adam Waters have joined forces to teach business leaders, marketers and managers the fundamentals of working with the media offering:

  • Insight and access into the media world
  • Confidence to work directly with the media
  • Tips and skills to create a higher media profile
  • Techniques in creating great ‘stand out’ content

The first Media 101 Masterclass is being held at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden on October 21. You can book your tickets here.

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