Building better media relationships

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How often do we hear from journalists about unintended accidental misadventures of young public relations professionals where they crib about how they have been dealt with a specific resource from a public relations firm or a corporate communications professional. Sometimes it could be about frantic calls following upon a press release, sometimes chasing the media for attending a press conference or an event, and sometimes simply setting up a meeting for our clients, and other situations, where some of us end up upsetting our friends from media. Well, sometimes too much focus on achieving our short-term goals puts us into difficulty in establishing long-term relationships.

For us as the practitioners of public relations and corporate communications, a substantial amount of time revolves around the media fraternity. Informal meetings, talks, discussions, pitch notes, story ideas, editorial calendars, features, topical stories, authored articles, OPED pieces, and many similar elements keep us busy with media. The public relations and corporate communications business are a great facilitator for ensuring the delivery of great content for the readers and viewers of media, whether print or electronic.

Media today is so very diversified. Specialists, specialists, and specialists exist in each publication, and they do not overstep on others’ specialisations. You have one person covering technology, another person covering the special aspect of technology e.g., software industry, or product reviews. One could have specialisation in reviewing the mobile handsets, while another one may be a specialist in reviewing laptops and graphic cards. A health reporter, a merger & acquisition reporter, a markets reporter, an education reporter, a banking reporter, and so on.

Similarly, many roles like a reporter, a feature writer, a news desk editor, etc., also exist with the framework of media, whom we deal with, and they too have individual, specific and key responsibility on their shoulders. Many a time, we find journalists complaining about someone pushing them for covering a story even if they don’t cover the subject.

Sometimes, these attempts can be genuine mistakes made by PR professionals, due to a lack of training, knowledge, and understanding of how media functions, while sometimes they could only be misunderstandings and communication gaps with the media. Gaps can be filled up and mistakes can be avoided with just a little bit of planning and thoughtfulness. The first and the most basic step is to read, read, and read on the client domain you are dealing with in as many media as possible.

You will have automatic discoveries about the journalists writing upon your client domain. You will get to know many people writing from various media, how often their stories appear, what kind of stories they have been doing, what’s their writing style, whether they are only reporting or they are also creating features, is the reporting frequency higher or they do more features and lesser reports. Most of these are soft insights into the functioning of the editorial side dealing with your client domain.

If you are well-read about your client domain, your understanding of the subject will be good and when you sit and discuss possible stories with your friends in media, you will establish a great intellectual connection with them. When you come across good stories filed by journalists, please do connect with them, and share your feedback too. It will not only be a recognition of their written/broadcast/telecast work but also will be a feedback channel for them, using which they could even enhance the quality of their reports in the future.

Connecting with media, discussing their stories, suggesting ideas, even pointing errors, giving constructive suggestions, etc., could all be great ways to develop, strengthen, and build your media relationships for good.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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