Media. This is your basics. This is where we all kickstart.
For a PR and communications professionals skills such as writing, reading and knowing your media are like everyday essentials. In the order you prefer, but they are what spurs the beginning of our careers.
You cannot communicate the best stories for your clients or the brands you work with, if you wont know the best medium to propagate. In other words, spend equal amounts of time learning all you can about the media that you wish to engage with. We have been taught well to start with basics, such as the publication houses, their ever-evolving hierarchy, type of publication and importantly read names on the bylines.
The more you read, could be in any form – newspapers, magazines, news apps, news aggregators – the more it will fast track your understanding of what makes news. Just because you want to make a pitch or sell a story, doesn’t mean everybody will love it too. Hence, understand what is the need-gap and what is it that will make the other person interested in all your information.
Always see a story from the lens of a writer, to evaluate what makes it interesting enough for them to pick. Because, for a journalist, its important they talk the language of a larger audience, and the story you share should resonate with the eventual reader.
The larger picture here also highlights a question about why should the writer give you favourable attention. Why should they even use their precious words to endorse a story you believe in? Not just because you are in vogue! Once you know the writer, what they focus on, understand their style of writing, soak in how they have been structuring their stories – all this will give you an idea of how they think about writing a piece. Its important that you equip them with the right information and at the right time to plan a story that would benefit all audiences. Today, we have enough avenues to know a journalist well, so spend sometime in actually learning about what they write about.
Another piece to the jigsaw is the crucial deadline. We all have monthly, quarterly, annual goals. Journalists are often battling deadlines too, sometimes daily, which means even shorter span of time to waste. So be mindful of the fact that publications have specific deadlines and timelines before a story can be churned out. Stay on top of your deliverables, by sharing the information well in time, maybe organise more at your end. And if it helps, get clarity on the timelines, in your very first engagement. This way expectations don’t mismatch.
And this also tells us when is it appropriate to reach out to them. For instance, in the pre-whatsapp era, we knew no calls to media post 5pm. Today, however we can drop a message and expect a response anytime later. So lets not misuse this super power and respect the fact of connecting with another person, as a key etiquette.
Lastly, don’t forget to be little more humane. Be patient, be polite and stay calm. Because everyone on the other side is also fighting deadlines, is also doing a job and is also ensuring they deliver more than they promised.
So next time, don’t be a marvel hero and just push down a story. But instead build enough premise to make the other persons time worthwhile, and trust me you wont need to even follow up. Because your conventional wisdom and hard work will make them write about it.
Yes, stay stunned that something as simple as knowing your media can create a powerful impact.