After working more than 14 years as a media relations consultant
and five years as a journalist, I've come to the conclusion there
are six basic laws that govern successful media relations. They
- organizational access
- proactive response
- relationships with the news media
Content must be tightly written, with a focus on the facts and
an avoidance of hyperbole. It must be constructed in an electronic
format and delivered to the news media on an electronic platter.
The inundation journalists suffer, plus continued merger mania in
the news business, means they have very little time to research
or sift through (useless) information to mine the news.
Context is placing your organization's news within the ebb and
flow of the daily news diet. It also includes timing, especially
in relation to what else is going on.
Organizational access is very important. The news media operate
on a much tighter schedule for everything compared to regular business
responsiveness. A radio journalist needs the information or interview
requested that hour, not the next day. Television needs it the by
the same afternoon, at the latest. And print overnight!
Proactive response is essential in creating a two-way flow of information
between the organization and news media. The more proactive an organization
is over time, the less severe the reaction by the media if there's
a crisis. If the news media know your organization as open and honest
through years of access, then the worst part of a crisis (what are
they hiding?) may be mitigated.
Relationship with the news media goes hand-in-hand with access.
Over time, if your organization and PR practitioners have been open
and honest with the media, that access and honesty go a long way
in raising your organization's credibility and position on a journalist's
priority list. You must keep in perspective the amount of information
bombarding the news media these days!
When all five of the above concepts are integrated, over time,
success will be attained with the art and science of media relations.
However, always leave room for luck.
Speaking of luck. I would love to hear from public relations personnel
about any "good luck" rituals you are in the habit of
practicing. We all know how athletes have their rituals. How about
PR practitioners? Do you carry a rabbit's foot? Do you schedule
events for a particularly "lucky" day or time? Let me
Mark LaVigne, APR, is President of the Canadian Public Relations
Society (Toronto) and runs a media relations and media coaching
firm based in Aurora, Ontario. He can be reached at (905) 841-2017