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Navigating the media landscape: What PRs should know

Updated: Apr 29

A journalist table with a laptop, newspapers and a laptop

With many years of experience as a journalist and editor, I have seen it all when it comes to press releases. In the fast-paced world of media, the relationship between PRs and journalists/editors is crucial. A successful collaboration can lead to positive exposure for a brand, while misunderstandings can result in missed opportunities and a red mark on your name. To nurture a more effective partnership, here are my top things that journalists and editors wish PRs knew:

1. Understand the media outlet's audience

Before reaching out to journalists, PRs must thoroughly understand the media outlet's audience and what they’re all about. Customising pitches to match the interests and preferences of the target audience increases the likelihood of a story being picked up. Research previous content and make sure the pitch aligns with their style. A generic blanket email will not suffice!

2. Craft compelling and concise pitches

Journalists are drowning in pitches daily, and our time is precious. PRs should focus on crafting pitches that are not only compelling but also concise. Make those pitches grab attention and get to the point. Spell out the newsworthiness of the story and provide relevant details without overwhelming us with useless information.

3. Build genuine relationships

Building relationships is key in the media industry. PRs should go beyond just sending press releases and cultivate genuine relationships with journalists and editors. This can go a long way. Attend networking events, engage on social media, and take the time to see what makes journos tick! A personal connection can be the game-changer that gets your pitch noticed.

4. Be transparent and honest

Trust is the glue holding good collaborations together. PRs should be transparent about their client's story. Misleading information can damage a brand's reputation and erode trust with journalists. If there are challenges or limitations, communicate them upfront to manage expectations. No smoke and mirrors!

5. Respect deadlines

Journalists work under tight deadlines, and understanding their workflow is key. PRs should respect deadlines and provide information well in advance of any important dates. Being mindful of our schedule boosts the likelihood of coverage.

6. Provide resources

Journalists appreciate access to resources that enhance their storytelling. Whether it's high-quality images, expert quotes, or exclusive data, PRs should provide assets that enrich the content. Make it easy for journalists to access and a top tip is including download links in press releases.

7. Accept rejections and feedback

Not every pitch will result in coverage, and that's OK. Journalists appreciate PRs who handle rejection gracefully and use feedback constructively. Instead of being discouraged, use rejections as opportunities to refine future pitches and better understand the preferences of the media outlet.

The success of PR efforts relies heavily on the relationship between PRs and journalists/editors. By understanding the needs and preferences of the media, being transparent and adaptable, and building genuine relationships, PRs can enhance their chances of securing valuable coverage for their clients. The key is to see it as a collaborative effort, where both parties contribute to creating meaningful and impactful stories.

Celia Bristow is an experienced journalist and editor who has worked for publications including Vanity Fair and Tatler.

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