Managing media relationships: balancing PR team roles
A recent article in Forbes emphasized five things a PR team should consider when evaluating PR success. Beyond crunching numbers, the article calls out relationship-building as the most important.
Indeed, striking and forging a healthy relationship with XX on behalf of a brand is golden. These relationships can help PR teams capture coverage, make connections and foster opportunities – the fruits are many.
As PR teams continue to build relationships on behalf of brands, close attention should be paid to the handling and maintenance of each relationship. This is especially true when the “PR team” is composed of agency staff, consultants and actual employees of the brand. Lack of coordination between the team can backfire, destroying a relationship and potentially dissolving any hope for coverage in that outlet for the brand. The following tips will help the team balance roles, fostering healthy relationships with media:
- The right outlet and the right contact – Oftentimes PR teams are handed a list of names and media outlets that the brand (client, management) has identified as “must-have” relationships. As PR practitioners and counselors, we owe it to our reputation, client, and brand to research each outlet and contact that is identified as “necessary.” Fully vet the outlet and staff. Do the homework. Be sure the outlet and contact make sense for your story. Above all, don’t set out to build a relationship just because it’s what’s the client or management says so; doing so can make you, the client, and the brand look bad.
- One voice at a time – Initial or first-time outreach to a media outlet or contact on behalf of a brand should be conducted by one designated person on the agency team. Once a phone or email conversation has been started, that same designated person should continue to be the primary rep for the brand. A media contact should never be approached at the same time by multiple voices – both the client and the agency rep, for example – as this can create confusion and frustration, potentially causing the contact to lose interest in the brand, story, etc. In this example, if the client wants to take over or also be involved in the relationship, the introduction of a second voice should take place when the relationship is secure, after a story has appeared or event occurred. Be sure to follow the contact’s lead, however, as some journalists prefer to work with one person on behalf of a brand.
- Maintenance and care – As with any relationship, relations on behalf of brands require continued attention and commitment. Whoever owns the relationship – client, PR rep, etc. – should proactively engage with the contact or outlet. Become a regular reader, follower and keep tabs. This is an ongoing process. Do not make an appearance only when there’s a need. A strong, healthy brand-media relationship – one that will reap favorable and continued coverage and opportunities – is cultivated over time.
About Veronica Hunt:
As an account supervisor in the Los Angeles office of PadillaCRT, Veronica has directed grassroots marketing and media campaigns for consumer – wellness – health accounts. Veronica’s exceptional media relations knowledge has captured media hits in People en Español, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Latina, CNBC, MSNBC, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Scripps-Howard, Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. Her work has been recognized by the Hospital Public Relations and Marketing Association, The Holmes Report, the Los Angeles and Old Dominion Chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and by O’Dwyer’s PR Report.