Over the past 5 years, I have lived and worked in New York City as a PR Account Executive, so I’ve been working day-in and day-out with the media to secure news coverage of my clients. Now a new resident of the great city of Lexington for over 2 months, I’ve noticed this metropolis is beaming with interesting businesses as well as innovative start-ups.
For a PR person, this is exciting. My brain is constantly thinking about who I can reach out to that would love to hear about a certain business or service I’ve discovered. Except, and here’s the dilemma, many businesses do not understand the importance of the media and why they might need it.
Media relations is the relationship a company builds with the media, which includes journalists, reporters, bloggers, etc., and how they work with them to promote a business/product to the general public. Though marketing and branding are important to a business, publicity can be a powerful tool. If, for example, a business is launching a new product, securing a story placement through a regional outlet (Lexington Herald-Leader) and/or a national publication (New York Times) can significantly raise visibility and potentially lead to a bump in sales.
To build relationships, we, either through networking or research, build “media lists,” a catalog of media contacts that may be interested in a brand. Once a list is created, we create a strategy to gain maximum exposure for a company. As a PR professional, it is our job to stay on top of what is being reported in the media. If a company isn’t offering a brand new product or service, we help companies identify and create newsworthy items. For example, I did PR for a number of fine jewelers while in New York. It was my job to not only make sure their products had placements in major magazines each month, but I was also responsible for researching those unique opportunities for the brand, i.e. articles talking about maintenance of engagement rings or trends within metals or in the fine jewelry market.
Once we start reaching out to the media and connections are created, it is vital for the brand to maintain these relationships. Journalists and reporters, at the end of the day, have ultimate control over what is printed. To ensure a positive image, a consistent positive rapport with the media is needed.
The bottom line is media relations is an important resource for businesses, and working with public relations professionals can give you an edge. Whether growing a business or promoting a product, relationships with the media, both locally and nationally, can determine your success.