PR & Media Relations: How to Build Strong Media Relationships

Public relations is all about relationships — cultivating healthy relationships with the public, relevant stakeholders, as well as our partners in the media. Just like any long-term relationship, media relations take time and a lot of work.

It’s not always enough to send a pitch to a bunch of reporters and expect someone to pick up your expert’s quote or do an interview for a story, goal achieved. End of the matter, as far as the PR professional is concerned, right? Wrong. 

The relationship between PR pros and journalists is one of give-and-take. When done right, robust, long-term media relationships can improve your company’s visibility and credibility. It can also make journalists strong allies in crisis management.

Building and nurturing media relationships is not just about transactions, it’s about creating a sense of genuine connection. Being present, supportive, and offering value beyond immediate needs, building trust and fostering long-term connections are key. Treat them as you would with a friend.

— Nica Julianda, Media Relations Head

Here are five key strategies for connecting with and maintaining relationships with the press:

Build Your Media Contacts List

First order of business: Build your journalist contacts list. The more reporters you know, the better. 

There are several opportunities for you to meet and interact with journalists. And while emailing a pitch is a good way to do so, it’s not the only (and sometimes, it’s not even the most effective) way to reach out.

Try these other ways to beef up your contacts list:

Attend Press Events

The best way to encounter journalists who cover your or a related industry is to attend press events. Rub as many elbows as possible, but also listen to the questions that reporters ask, as well as the kind of information that’s being given out.

This will help you not just add to your list of reporters to target, but also get to know what reporters want to know, how they approach a story, and what sorts of details they find newsworthy. 

Of course, you’ll have your own ideas about what should be covered in the news, especially if it’s related to your business. But knowing what reporters consider news will help you and your PR team craft pitches that will pique the interest of busy reporters.

Fine-Tune Your Search

Having a good number of journalists in your contacts is a plus, but that doesn’t mean you should send them all a pitch or need them all at once.

Instead, target the right reporters and media outlets. This will help give you credibility and keep you from being irrelevant in the eyes of a reporter doing a quick sweep of their inbox.

Targeting and maintaining relationships with relevant reporters also help make sure that your efforts pay off. 

Get to Know the Journalists You Work With

If you’re to effectively target specific reporters, you have to get to know them. This will help make your pitches stand out from hundreds of others that come in on a daily basis. 

Also, remember that journalists are not just pawns in a PR strategy. It helps to remember that journalists are people too, and they, too, have quirks, likes, and certain ways of doing things. 

How do you get to know all that? Here are a couple of ways:

Read Their Work

Read up on their work to have an idea of their style, approach, and topics of interest. This will allow you to craft a pitch that’s sure to get noticed–as well as that will help reporters do their job. 

Journalists are extremely busy people, and many don’t have the patience to pursue a pitch that’s only a skeleton of a story.

Take Note of Their Preferences

Be mindful of reporters’ preferences. For instance, some reporters prefer to receive expert statements via email, others may like to do a phone call, while others may have a strict no-interview rule.

Jot these details down and keep them in mind when writing a pitch or doing a check-in. 

Remember: the goal is to make a connection and build a long-term relationship. When you make an effort to adhere to the way they prefer to do things, it communicates respect and professionalism, which go a long, long way.

Be Useful to Reporters

The relationship between PR pros and the media is two-way. This means that to maintain strong relationships with journalists, you have to be as useful to them as they are to you. 

Journalists are often chasing deadlines, on tight schedules, and juggling several stories at once. Keep that in mind when connecting with them. 

Offer Media Sitdowns

Make time for sit-downs with the media and key experts in your company to help reporters better understand a story, gain new insights, and even find a more interesting angle. This doesn’t have to result in publicity–at least not now.

Even if it doesn’t result in PR coverage right now, it can position you better with media outlets, ensuring that your pitch doesn’t go unnoticed when you do send them one.

Provide Complete, Updated Information

A strong pitch is one that contains all the information that a journalist needs to write a story. This means PR pros have to anticipate questions that reporters will ask and provide all the answers in one brief.

Take note of the word “brief”. Your write-up has to be short enough so reporters don’t have to spend an hour on it, but it should be complete with all the necessary information, such as quotes, photos, and new research or research findings.

Respect Their Time

One of the biggest turn-offs for journalists are people who send pitches at inappropriate times of the day. It’s a given that journalists may be working late, even tapping away on their laptops over the weekend, but that doesn’t make it alright to send them more work anyway!

To show professionalism and respect for their time, you should:

Go Easy on the Calls and Follow-Ups

Wait a few days before giving them a nudge via email or call. With a lot on their plate, it usually takes journalists about a couple of days to go over pitches. 

Note: Some don’t appreciate follow-ups at all!

Don’t Flood Their Inbox–Especially on Holidays

Refrain from resending your pitch or sending one too often. This will only make you appear spammy and even prevent journalists from wanting to open your email. 

Unless it’s particularly time-sensitive, don’t send a pitch on holidays, as well as the day after a long holiday. Think about how you would feel having to read a work email on Christmas! 

Think Long-Term

Cultivating relationships with the media is a long, often arduous process that takes expertise and strategy.

The key is working with a trusted PR agency that can keep the conversation going, sustain interest, and enhance press coverage. 

Every business needs good PR. Get in touch with us to find out how.

Jossaine Nunez
Jossaine Nunez is a freelance article writer, blogger, and SEO-driven maven. While her true passion lies in writing fiction, her love for storytelling extends to helping brands convey their message in ways that are both engaging and helpful for attaining their business goals. Jossaine’s interests in writing particularly about people, for people – which translates to brand audience engagement – stems from her experience as the Editor-In-Chief of Siliman University’s The Weekly Silimanian, which published slices of life and educational pieces surrounding university life. Her piece, A Review of Leoncio Deriada’s People on Guerrero Street, published in the Silliman Journal on discussions and investigations in the humanities and sciences, earmarks her foray into the world of writing about, and writing for, humans that make the world go round.