Working With the Media? Relationships Matter!

What’s the most important thing that any business person should know about working with the media? Relationships matter! I’ve been working with the media for a number of years–both as one of them in my role as a business journalist and on the other side of the relationship as a PR professional. Because I’ve had a foot in both camps for so long, I don’t have the same level of fear or anxiety about working with the media as many often do. I don’t view the media as “the enemy” but as an ally in most cases. I need the media to help me get important messages out to various audiences. The goal:

to convince them that they also need me–and that they need me (or my client sources) more than they need the input from other sources.

That involves building relationships. And just as when building any type of relationship, success requires:

  • The ability to provide value
  • Honesty
  • Responsiveness

Those are really the foundational elements of positive and productive relationships with media representatives. You need to be able to provide value to the reporter; that value is based on the needs of their (and your!) ultimate audience. You need to be honest and forthcoming, even when you don’t necessarily want to be covered in the media. Once you become recognized as a reliable source–in good times and bad–the media will seek you out. They will trust you. That’s important.

Ultimately, you need to be responsive. We live in a very competitive and very fast-moving media environment these days. When the media reaches out to you, you need to be available. If you’re not, they’ll find someone else who is. It’s just the nature of the business. Being responsive means being responsive not just when the coverage is likely to reflect positively on you, but even when there’s a chance that it might not. In fact, it’s how you respond in potentially negative situations that can best determine whether your relationships with the media remain strong.

If you often find yourself wondering why you’re not getting the media coverage that your competitors are, it’s time to evaluate your relationships with the media reps you’re hoping to influence. Do you have them? If you do, are you consistently providing value and honest input and are you responsive even during the bad times?

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