New School Media Relations

Meet my bestest friend: Big, Famous Business Press Reporter.

Meet my bestest friend: Big, Famous Business Press Reporter.

Clients often have an illusionary picture of the way media relations works at PR agencies. This illusion, of course, is encouraged by the agencies. Here’s how the illusion works:

1. Client has a piece of news and alerts PR agency.

2. PR agency goes to lunch with powerful Business Press reporter (who is a close personal friend).

3. PR agency wows Business Press reporter with pitch.

4. Business Press reporter (who is close personal friend of PR agency) writes up big feature story.

5. Everyone is deliriously happy!

Not quite. While many PR agencies have friends who are reporters – few, if any, reputable reporters write news based on relationships. Relationships will get you an ear – a chance to pitch the story. But pitch too many duds and you’ll find a deaf ear. That’s why most PR agencies save those personal relationships for stories they know are good. Here’s how Old School media relations generally works.

1. Client has piece of news and alerts PR agency.

2. PR agency writes up a press releases and a canned email pitch.

3. Press release published to wire and canned pitch emailed to dozens of reporters the PR agency has never met.

4. Press release gets a few pick-ups, canned pitch captured by reporters’ Spam filters or deleted as irrelevant.

5. Everyone ends up disappointed with results.

Now occasionally, when the news is pretty good, a couple of reporters will respond to the canned pitches. This success rate is why PR people continue to carrying on with this practice (its also easy and many PR agencies are understaffed and overworked). However, the advent of social media has made reporters less likely to respond to email pitches. That’s because they use Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and other platforms to look for news and interesting stories.

That’s why companies need to deemphasize “Old School” media relations. Begging reporters to write about your products and services is becoming less and less effective. What works? “New School” media relations – which has nothing to do with media and everything to do with engaging with your customers. A strategic approach to creating content for your customers not only wins customers – but wins press.

Here’s how it works:

– Discover your customers.

– Learn about their problems and challenges.

– Help them solve those problems.

– Share your ideas with everyone via RSS, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, YouTube, forums, Flickr, Slideshare, LinkedIn, etc.

– Watch customers and media respond.

The Old School is over. Join the New School.

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