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How do I Choose the Best Media Relations Strategy?

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  • Written By: John Lister
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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The key to selecting any media relations strategy is to clearly define your goals. Remember that publicity in and of itself is not usually your ultimate goal. Instead, as a business, the goal is to use publicity to increase awareness and boost sales. If you are a campaign group or non-profit organization, the aim of publicity is often to get your message across and help achieve whatever changes your group is working towards.

Defining and targeting an audience is another key part of a media relations strategy. This audience could consist of the people who are going to buy your product, or the decision makers who may determine public policies on issues which you are campaigning about. You will then need to research which types of media this audience is most likely to be consuming as this will be the prime target for your publicity. Remember to take account of how effective varying types of media are at getting a message across.

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Learning more about how the media works can help develop your media relations strategy. The more you know about the working life of a journalist, the better you will be able to provide them with details which can produce news stories or features. By talking to working reporters, you may find out details about when is the best time to pitch a story. For example, with a daily newspaper, journalists may be more likely to follow up on tips they receive shortly before a morning news conference with editors, particularly if they don't have any other ideas at that time.

A media relations strategy needs to cover both proactive and reactive relations. Proactive is where you approach the media with a story. This is most commonly in the form of a press release, but can also include photo-calls, news conferences and ongoing campaigns. Reactive relations are where you respond to media enquiries. This can involve providing facts, commenting on issues or giving advice to readers, viewers and listeners.

As part of your strategy you should decide your position on controversial issues. If you respond to, and comment on, controversies you may attract more publicity. This is particularly true where reporters are looking for an unconventional viewpoint, for example where they want to show both sides of a story in the interests of balance. However, such media activity can risk alienating some sections of your potential audience. If taken too far, controversy about one subject can affect your image and undermine the effect of your publicity over other issues.

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Discuss this Article

StarJo
Post 4

@Oceana – Your friend's store must have been in a small town. In the city, it is a lot harder to get free PR advertising.

Journalists are too overwhelmed with topics to take time out to cover the opening of a small store. This is unfortunate, and it forces small business owners with limited budgets to invest in costly advertising.

However, those same journalists would surround the store if something bad happened inside or if the owners got into legal trouble. It makes me miss living in a small town, where the opening of any business was big news.

Oceana
Post 3

My friend was about to open up a party supply store in a town that desperately needed one, and she wanted to do more than just buy advertising. She wanted to get a story about the store in the local newspaper.

So, she contacted the editor and requested that he send someone out to interview her and get the information. He was happy to oblige.

So, she got a nice article describing her merchandise and letting people know where she would be located and when the store would open. I think of it as free advertising.

Perdido
Post 2

@shell4life – Media relations training is so essential. It can be as necessary for charitable organizations as it can for controversial businesses.

I think that people are generally a bit suspicious of nonprofit organizations. They think that anyone asking for money is out to trick them, but that isn't always the case.

So, it is really important for people working for nonprofit agencies to know exactly what the agency stands for and where every bit of the money is going. If the person is unable to give details when asked by a journalist, then this could cast suspicion on the organization.

shell4life
Post 1

My sister started working at our town's first liquor store. We had been a dry county for decades, so just the existence of the store was controversial.

The boss gathered all the employees together and reviewed the media relations plan. He wanted them to be fully prepared so that they wouldn't be caught off guard when confronted by reporters.

This was wise, because reporters seemed eager to trip up any employee that they could. They wanted to add fuel to the flame of controversy surrounding the store, but since the employees had been coached on what to say, they didn't stumble.

I think it's always wise to have a plan when you know that you are the target of the media. It's much harder to frustrate a prepared individual than someone who has no idea how they are supposed to respond to controversial questions.

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