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Make friends with the media

There are many ways to get the business message across these days, but there’s still nothing more gratifying than someone else telling the world how wonderful you are.

When it comes from a trusted industry expert or influencer, it is all the more persuasive and the media has an important role in getting the word out there.

Putting it in print or broadcasting (online or offline) can help to reinforce the expert view, so it’s important to have a good relationship with the media that can make it possible.

Most companies when they think of press relations think it’s enough to send out a few press releases to their database of media contacts and leave it at that.

Good press relations should be about building relationships with journalists and editors in order to get your stories and messages understood and out to the right audiences.

You don’t have to be everyone’s new best friend but it pays to know the media influencers – journalists, editors, bloggers – who have the ears, and eyes, of your target audience. Get them interested and you will have a much better chance of getting your voice heard above the noise.

Also, don’t forget that the ‘press’ in ‘press relations’ is so much more than trade and business magazines, national papers and broadcast media such as TV and radio.

When you add in the digital dimension a whole world of possibilities open up with which to inform and impress your audience. Make friends with them all.

Some ideas for improving your press relations

If you want an ad, buy an ad Good press relations aren’t about getting free advertising. Editors are looking for genuinely interesting or useful content for their readers and nothing upsets them more than thinly disguised adverts that turn up half an hour before the copy deadline.

Just think, what would your reaction be if your favoured trade mag that you’d bought and paid for suddenly became nothing but advertorials? The chances are you would take your money and your mind elsewhere.

If you want an advert by all means buy an advert, but if you want to get a good story out there make sure the editorial team knows that you can be trusted to deliver good content.

Feed them with news Editors and journalists are busy people and so is your audience, so it helps if you don’t waste their time with trivia.

Make sure there is actually something new and interesting to say before pitching for an article – and then deliver on time. It will make it a lot easier the next time you have something important to say.

Don’t be a stranger Don’t be one of those friends that only turn up when they want something. Keep your media contacts in the loop, tell them the news, but make sure they are the first to know when something big is happening.

Friend, follow and stalk them on social media to find out what they are interested in and talking about. Join the debates and make sure they remember you for the right reasons.

Be a trusted source It’s not all about you. Well alright it is, but it might be fairer to say that it not ‘all about your products’. It is however also about thought leadership.

Being seen as the expert in your field, or the ‘go-to’ for best advice and a good quote, is also important and your relationship with the media can help you when it comes to being invited to write articles, provide vox-pops and contribute to industry forums.

It all helps to raise the profile of the business as a trusted brand – and yes, you might also sell some products or services on the back of it.

Obviously there is a lot more to good press relations than buttering up a few journalists – but it helps. In the right hands press relations is a valuable tool so get to work on those media contacts and make sure you use it properly.

Deborah Rowe is principal consultant of Sheba Marketing and a member of the organising committee for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG)

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