It's not what you think!
Whoever, you are, wherever you fit in the PR machine, if you are going to be dealing with the media to gain coverage, you need to be able to answer two fundamental questions that journalists will be asking:
The PR people that build the most successful relationships with journalists, have thought of the answers to these questions in advance and also understand the basic principles of relationship building.
Firstly, the personal touch should never be underestimated. Journalists are people, and many of them have average or above average social skills. This means they tend not to form lasting bonds via email - a good PR person will get on the phone, arrange face-to-face encounters and keep in touch.
Consistency is also important. The company's messages should be so clearly defined that they are naturally evident in every involvement a journalist might have with your organisation. This means that if a journalist has been tasked with writing a balanced article on, for example, the value to Britain of the royal family, and he has met you a couple of times and remembers that you are an anti-royalist whose blog, ‘off with her head’ calls for the UK to renounce its queen and whose book, ‘free willie’ suggests ways in which Prince William could be stripped of his title, you will be the first to come to mind for a comment in the 'against' section of the article. This is great promotion for you, your book and your blog, so all in all a worthwhile relationship.
These relationships will also need to be ongoing, as you have to work hard to keep on a journalist's radar. It is no good meeting a reporter once, giving her an information pack on your company, and then expecting to be offered first dibs on the next article she is writing about your sector (and as many clients do, then getting cross to have been left out in favour of a competitor). Your competitors will likely be wooing the same media as you, so as soon as you slip out of their consciousness, you will quickly be replaced!
Finally, make these relationships useful. Like most people, journalists do not like one-sided relationships and need to get something out of knowing your company. Many MDs make the mistake of assuming that if they buy a journalist lunch, she is obliged to quote them in an article. This is not necessarily the case (with some notable exceptions) - journalists have to write to certain standards and guidelines placed on them by editors and publishers. This means they cannot get away with filing any old rubbish. They will generally get your organisation involved if they know you have information that is relevant to an article they are writing or if they think you have something of particular interest that their editor would want them to do a whole story on you or your company (i.e. when whoever is responsible for your PR has hit the jackpot).
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.
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