I’ve always felt that one characteristic separates a great media relations practitioner from the rest of the pack: You have got to love – I mean really have a passion for – following the media.
How else can one keep up with the changing media landscape – something that is paramount to effective media relations?
The state of news is constantly evolving. From traditional media like broadcast news and daily newspapers, to niche podcasts and digital-only news programs, public relations professionals need to stay on top of the channels that key audiences are using if they want to earn media coverage in these outlets.
Public relations professionals need to know how to break through a crowded media market, how to identify newsworthy content and how to choose the best media target for a pitch. Having strong knowledge of the media landscape is key to knowing how to do all of these things, all of which are essential to helping clients earn media coverage that will bolster their reputation and contribute to their bottom-line success.
Following the ever-changing media landscape can require a great deal of time and attention. You can’t fake it, either. You need to immerse yourself in media. And while there are no real shortcuts to staying well-versed in any specific or general media targets, communications professionals can try these three tips for staying in the news media loop.
Pick a few outlets to follow regularly.
Knowing the ins and outs of every single media outlet in a market or industry is a lot for one person to juggle. Less can be more. Find three to five outlets to follow on a regular basis and learn them well. Tune in or click into these outlets daily and make note of what you see. What kind of stories get covered? What doesn’t make the cut? Who are the reporters covering the stories? And, finally, how can you tailor your organization’s messages into that outlet’s format?
Make the time for news.
The biggest oversight that most practitioners commit is failing to consume news outlets on a consistent basis. You simply have to do it and commit to a block of time each day for media consumption.
Think of it as a workout program for your brain. It doesn’t have to control your schedule – no one can watch or read everything anyway.
Still, schedule time for news consumption and stick to the plan. Sure, you’re busy, but you also have an obligation to your organization to expand your knowledge base. Knowing media outlets intimately can give you a competitive edge in your pursuits to land extensive coverage – even if you set aside just 30 minutes on your calendar to consume media.
Most major news outlets email daily newsletters, which can you get a grasp of daily headlines. Listening to news radio can give you a rundown of bigger stories while on your commute (or, on days I work from home, I listen to news radio on my Alexa while brewing coffee).
The bottom line is this: If you want to land coverage on any given media outlet, knowing that outlet and what it covers is key to earning the interest of a reporter.
Look at traditional, social and emerging media.
Supplement your daily reading and watching with some scrolling and liking/retweeting/sharing and even commenting on stories you find interesting. Social media provides great insight into what media outlets and their reporters are covering and what kind of stories they are looking for.
Technology and communications platforms change often. PR pros need to continue to consume traditional media – radio, TV and print – but they can’t ignore podcasts, TikTok and whatever new platform is on the horizon. One day, we will look at TikTok and Instagram as outdated platforms and something new will be in its place. But for now, we need to make sure we are understanding how these media and social media channels operate and how audiences consume their news.
Yes, those days of sitting by the door and waiting for the loud plop of the daily paper on my porch are over. But, consuming the news is a key part of PR strategy, and media relations practitioners should be consuming as many sources as they can. If you’re looking to beef up your organization’s media relations efforts, contact the pros at AKCG.