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Why Media Relations is More Important Now Than Ever in PR

Why Media Relations is More Important Now Than Ever in PR

[By Jason Mollica]

Breaking news hits social networks like an unstoppable freight train. Once there is an e-coli outbreak, scandal, or a transgression by a professional athlete, Twitter and Facebook end up as the place to get news and information. This makes media relations that much more important in the 21st century.

Before social media, and in some senses the internet, reaching out to the media by phone and scheduling a press conference could deal with a crisis situation. In some cases, a crisis could be mitigated by answering some (tough) questions and giving the media what they would need for their 6 p.m. broadcast, or for the paper. Now, it’s not that simple.

Even if there isn’t a crisis and you are simply pitching or sharing details of a new CEO, your relationship with the media is integral. Despite brands and individuals making it difficult, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it should not be that hard to be upfront and honest with the media about a situation that could affect the public. We’ve seen all too often when companies misread the media. The results are not good.

Some of the failures come from not understanding where the media is now.  Yes, the traditional avenues are there. But, with the shrinking newsrooms, bloggers and social networks have become the outlets where people follow the news. Even the media use social to share breaking details on stories.

As PR pros, we are no longer just pitching a story or waiting to address a media question. We need to think like a reporter, or from the perspective of what the media will cover. Then, we create and tell those stories about our clients or brands to various publics. The audiences include traditional media outlets along with newer audiences and social media influencers who can share the stories across the social space, so it goes farther than in the past.

At the same time, if PR pros aren’t social media savvy, you might as well go fishing without a rod and reel. We NEED to be social savvy and able to monitor social networks for client and brand mentions. We need to be prepared to share those mentions that put us in a light that others want to share and be part of. We also need be a curator; our audiences want to read these stories. By collecting and sharing what we’ve accomplished, we develop a level of trust.

If we are not at the forefront of helping to share our news and information, we aren’t valuing what our audiences can provide our clients. As much as they need us, we need them. So, while the media are important in sharing what we do, we also need to understand what they do, in this day and age. If we aren’t relating, we’ve failed. And that hurts clients, their audiences, and, ultimately, public relations.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

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