Strange as it may seem, PR pros used to spend incredible amounts of time cultivating relationships with the media. It wasn’t an email here or there or a social media ping. It was face-to-face time with editors of the target publications at events, on the road, and elsewhere.
I don’t know how many lunches, dinners, and media tours I went on when all of those things were fashionable. While my PR clients were more interested in “hits” and cover stories, my agency was more concerned about the relationships we established because relationships transcend any client engagement.
In today’s highly fragmented world, things are very different. PR people have to multitask on entirely different levels and in doing so, they sacrifice focus – focus on relationships, focus on targeting pitches, focus on learning what their clients really do.
I believe it’s still important to develop actual relationships with the media. I can’t speak for all journalists on this point, but I can tell you that if we’ve established a relationship, your pitch will be placed at the top of the virtual pile, and I’m less inclined to delete it in the first place. Also, if I have to do outreach for a story, I’ll probably contact you first.
One time, I spent 30 minutes on the phone talking to a PR person about his client’s product strategy simply because every time I needed him to cut through the red tape at that client’s organization, he did it.
PR success requires a confluence of many things, some of which are in your control and some of which are not. One thing you can control is the way you approach and work with the media. If you want to have more influence, stop looking at your job as a series of rat-tat-tat news announcements and start looking at the bigger picture. Cultivate actual relationships with people, because there will be times when you need them, and vice versa.
Remember: actual relationships transcend clients and publications. You or I may move tomorrow. If one or both of us does, you can count on me to point you in some kind of helpful direction, even if your client does not fit within one of my beats.