Top Media Relations Challenges & How to Solve Them

At SHIFT, many of us focus exclusively on securing earned media for clients. We work closely with reporters and bloggers to get ‘ink’.

PR is a long-game: it requires consistency, always-on creativity and outbound efforts. When turned on and off – like for a single announcement – it’s rarely effective. With that in mind, here are some of the main challenges we encounter in securing media coverage year-round and how we tackle them:

Tactics to combat a lack of news

We’ve all been there before – partnership announcement falls through, survey data is delayed, product news pushed out to Q4. Or there’s no news at all. So how do PR professionals continue to get ink when news is slow? Here are a few helpful tactics:

  • Rapid Response – Rapid response pitching is a strategy that can be used to position a brand as a thought leader on a variety of topics and trends. As major news hits, PR folks that are quick enough can work with their subject matter experts to develop impactful commentary and share with reporters before their articles publish. If the stars align just right, you’ve got a shot at placement.
  • Proactive Campaigns – A vital part of any PR program, proactive campaigns provide us with an opportunity to explore new topics, set up engaging conversations with reporters and, potentially, secure coverage. In a nutshell, the PR pro will first identify a trend in the news. We work with spokespeople to develop a strong perspective, then offer up a conversation on the topic to interested reporters. Even if these discussions don’t lead to immediate coverage, the journalist will know who to call next time around.
  • Filling Reporter Queries and Needs – Part of being successful in PR is uncovering ‘live’ media opportunities. But where do these come from? You are likely already aware of services such as Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which enables journalists to request sources for specific stories. In addition, media opportunities can come as a result of strong relationships with the right reporters. Which leads us to our next media relations challenge…

Building relationships with reporters

In today’s world, getting through to reporters and receiving a response can be tricky. Just consider the constant deadlines reporters are held to in the news room (kudos to all my journalists out there). In order for a PR professional to develop lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with media, it’s important to be respectful of reporters and the pressures they are facing.

In an effort to strengthen my personal relationships with media, I often opt to meet in person for coffee (or another beverage) to get more background on the individual. Reporters generally enjoy a break from the news room, and it offers us a chance to connect and develop a rapport. If you’re meeting with a reporter for coffee, remember to not bombard them with pitches. Instead, use the time to learn about them, what makes them tick, the kinds of pitches they get excited about, etc. Then the next time you have the right news item to share, you’re much better equipped and have a better shot at success.

When it comes to media relations, it all boils down to problem solving. Whether your brand has no news, you need to build stronger relationships with journalists or time is just not on your side, the challenges we face on the day-to-day can be surmounted with some creativity, smarts and a healthy amount of determination.

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