While building a list is a powerful and highly important aspect of media relations, the process that will set you apart from the competition is managing relationships. Press relations comes down to networking and this is the crucial aspect that so many brands forget.
If you are a small brand hoping to get covered by big sites, magazines and papers, then you need to recognize that you are competing with far larger companies with their own, huge marketing budgets. The thing that will make the difference is taking the time to become known by the writers, developing real relationships and more.
copyright: vege @ fotolia.comThis is why many companies will treat writers and journalists like honoured guests. If a company ever hosts a conference, it will often provide drinks and food. It might also host events that invite the guests to take part in exciting and unique opportunities. I was invited to stand on top of London Bridge and use a new phone to take photos of the event! And I get personal emails from the company representative keeping me updated about their activities.
In short, they take the time to maintain an actual relationship. And there are more ways you can do this…
Ways to Build Your Relationship
If your story isn’t terribly exciting for the press, then something you can do to change that is to offer a single media source an ‘exclusive’. This means that they’ll have permission to run the story before the competition. If you’ve ever seen a magazine on the stands with the word ‘EXCLUSIVE’ emblazoned on the front, then that is basically what is happening.
When a magazine or a website is given the opportunity to run an exclusive story, it gives them information that readers can’t find elsewhere and it suggests they have privileged access. This then builds their trust with their audience – making it valuable to them.
Of course, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of this however, as it means you’re not going to get coverage from other sources. Do note that there are other types of exclusive you can run: for instance, you can let everyone run the story at the same time but then offer an exclusive interview and possibly with extra details.
Networking in Person
Another very important aspect of building relationships is meeting people in person. A short interaction with someone creates a much more lasting impression than an email. This is one reason that attending trade shows and inviting members of the press is a good idea. And why not attend conferences run by other organizations?
t’s a mistake to send a single email and then give up if you don’t get a response. While you might be concerned about ‘pestering’ a journalist or editor, the reality is that sometimes a message will slip under the radar. Don’t be a pest, but if you don’t hear any response, then why not follow up with a quick message?
Likewise, it doesn’t hurt to send messages that are only tangentially related to the topic. For instance, you could offer to answer any questions, or even follow up with an email complimenting a writer on their great article! Or how about getting in touch and asking if there are any stories they’d like to write that you can help them with?
Every company should have a separate email for handling press enquiries. This will allow writers, journalists, bloggers etc. to reach you in a way that will stand out from other messages meaning it won’t slip under the radar.