You may have noticed…the media landscape has definitely changed with the climate we are in- all over the country and world right now. Years ago, I had an article published on what true media relations means and that same narrative is still relevant with a little tweaking for our current time. It’s all about media relations and when I say “relations” I mean truly having a relationship with the media. It may sound obvious, but most of the time it is a one-way street –PR people asking (pitching) for the story and not really thinking about the person on the other side (reporter, producers, etc.)? We have always run our agency thinking about our true clients, the media, even when it didn’t mean coverage nor had anything to do with our paying clients or our company. How can we help them? What can we do for them?
At the beginning of COVID-19, I started calling people just to put a smile on their face because these times are crazy, hectic and stressful for everyone. The people included clients, friends and absolutely members of the media. Some were friends and others acquaintances. What I was finding in those calls, almost immediately after our pleasantries was a lot of them were expecting me to pitch them or I wanted something from them. My response was “Nothing. This isn’t a pitch. I know things are crazy and you are working you tail off and must be going nuts with everything going on. I just wanted to call and make you smile and see how you are doing.” Most were shocked, others were hesitant and did not believe me and kept asking what are you pitching? This really showed me and confirmed why a lot of press people are jaded. They only get calls and pitches asking for stories. It really is sad because they are people just like you and me with a specific job to do and some PR people tend to forget that with the job they have to do. The PR person and media should be/must be symbiotic.
We should help the media and be a resource to them regardless. Check in with all of them especially the ones you work with the most. One example, I am based in San Diego and when I had heard they were closing all the bars and gyms, I reach out to a friend of mine who works for the major daily to see how her son was doing. Why? Because he is a personal trainer for a local gym chain, and I wanted to see how he was doing and if there was anything I could help with if he needed it. You just need to care and it will come back three and four fold. The media out there, regardless of what city, is getting beaten up by all sides with the riots, pandemic, lay-offs. You think you are getting tired of hearing it, just imagine what they are going through having to research and report on it every single day multiple times a day. Forget about work for a little and just be a friend. It is easier now more than ever with all the platforms including, yes I’ll say it, the telephone so there really isn’t any excuse and only takes a few minutes out of your day. Give it a try because that is TRUE media relations and you just might help someone out in the process and make their day.