Better Media Relations 101

We were recently asked by some students in a public relations course how to attract reporters’ attention and what social media practices prove most helpful with fostering good media contacts.

Our response was threefold. First, get to better understand the person behind the keyboard and up against the deadline. Second, like with any relationship you are trying to establish, good media relationships take time and are built on the trust garnered from honest and transparent exchanges. Third, there are a few practices that you should consider honing in a consistent and persistent manner – with no expectations of instant success.

On this last point, here are a few of those practices that will foster better media relations.

#1) Think of six basic questions that must be addressed before you begin writing your press release. If you can’t answer the questions, you don’t have a story. If you find that your answers are lacking, likely your story is not newsworthy.

  • What’s the story?
  • Why is it newsworthy?
  • Who cares?
  • Why am I (or my client) a resource?
  • What’s my specific, relevant expertise?
  • What other resources/assets can I offer a reporter?

#2) Consider these 4 ways to make your relations with media stronger.

  • Get to know your media better by researching reporters’ blogs, Twitter, online forums and other spaces where you might learn from their online conversations.
  • Cultivate a relationship by interacting with journalists/bloggers online. Read what they’re writing, start a conversation and share ideas with them.
  • Spot trends to create new story opportunities. Find relevant, current news items to develop new hooks for your potential story.
  • Participation in social media will ultimately lead to media coverage. If you’re blogging and tweeting about timely, relevant topics, this can help you generate additional media coverage.

#3) Consider these ways to attract media attention via Twitter (perhaps your best tool to get reporters’ attention during their working hours)

  • Follow those reporters who you wish to follow you.
  • Watch for tweets asking for help, especially on deadline.
  • Comment on a story a reporter wrote or aired, making sure you add the reporter’s Twitter name to the comment – and when possible, link to the story.
  • Retweet their tweets, especially when they link to their stories.
  • Offer to connect them with experts you think will genuinely help them on their beats.
  • Thank them for RT and Mentions and for covering an event they attended.
  • Look out for story ideas for them, not just big stories but follow-up pieces on stories they’ve already done.
  • Extend the relationship to other social networks if they’re more active elsewhere.


Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

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