Since the start of public relations, media placements have been the holy grail of PR success. However, with shrinking newsrooms and journalists being bombarded with pitches, how does a media relations campaign stand a chance in this new age?
After attending Ragan’s PR & Media Relations Summit in New York, it’s clear relationships are still the foundation of good PR.
Here are some top takeaways during the keynote session “Achieving the Nirvana of Communications: How Bayer hit the ‘C-suite spot,’ boosted budgets and tied media relations to reputation” with Bayer Corps SVP and Head Communications & Government Relations Raymond Kerins Jr.
1. The Media Won’t Cover You if They Don’t Know You
Sounds simple enough, right. Reporters have tight-deadlines so they naturally seek out sources or brands they’re familiar with. But how do you get the media familiar with your brand or organization if they don’t know you?
Kerins knows this problem all too well. In his early days at Bayer, one of the biggest challenges was positioning that brand as more than just aspirin.
His solution? He hosted his own version of “Meet the Press” events. He regularly held events where the press could learn more about Bayer and have access to company thought leaders and executives.
The result? It caught on with the media, and they now approach Bayer for stories and for invitations to their next event!
Focus on being a resource for the media and make meeting with you and your organization worth their time.
2. Focus on Relationships, Not Pitching
Every day there’s a PR pro who is tasked with getting their client or organization into The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. Although it’s possible to secure placement with an email pitch, Kerins suggests relationships are key to getting large placements; and they take time.
For example, to get Bayer in The Wall Street Journal, it took over a year and half of Kernis setting up several meetings with his CEO and a reporter.
“Senior people who stop doing media are stupid,” Kerins says.
That’s because a good media relations campaign is like fine wine, it gets better with time. There’s really no substitute for relationships built over time and experience. Senior practitioners need to keep getting their feet wet and not pass all pitching off to junior team members.
Good relationships also come in handy when your brand goes through a crisis. That reporter will probably work to get your side of the story or come to you if something doesn’t seem right with a story.
3. Don’t Just Work at Your Desk
Thanks to technology, PR pros have the world at their fingertips. Although tools have made it easier to collect data and find people across the world, there’s absolutely no substitute for relationships made #IRL (in real life). Kerins urges his team to leave their desks, in fact, he gets bothered if he sees his team spending too much time in the office.
“Engagement is the cornerstone of success when it comes to communications,” says Kerins.
He suggests media relations pros spend about 50 percent of their time outside the office engaging reporters.
Kerins also believes media relations revolves around education. He urges all media relations pros to get out of the office to engage and educate.
4. Measure What Matters
Ah, measurement, a PR pro’s favorite subject. Don’t get scared off, knowing your work’s value can help you secure more moolah and larger budgets. Just keep in mind that just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean you should.
Kerins and his team don’t measure success by looking at reach or how many clips they’ve generated. Instead, they survey key stakeholders before and after any campaign. This helps them determine how media relations contributes to their bottom line.
If you don’t have benchmarks that help you set your goals don’t worry and set them anyway. You can tweak them as you go along.