The only winning move is not to play

Nyhet   •   Feb 21, 2013 08:48 CET

There is a common misconception in our field that media relations is all about your contacts; that journalists write about the story you pitch more or less because of your personal relationship with them.

If only it were that easy. After 10+ years as a professional journalist at a wide range of major publishing houses, it would really have made MY current job easier.

Of course, knowing a journalist personally, and having a mutual degree of professional respect, makes it easier for you to make a cold call. And it can certainly help when you offer them something interesting.  But, regardless of this, there is no way that anyone, ever, will write something outside of their scope just because you were the one offering it. No matter how wonderful a person you are.

And if you end up wasting their time – and your time, and the client’s time – on a few occasions, your professional trust and personal relationship may not look so good anymore a bit down the road.

Then there are the journalists and editors where it’s all a lost cause to begin with. We’ve all met them and experienced that sinking feeling when you realise that, as soon as you’ve introduced yourself as part of an agency, you might as well be talking to a piece of rock.
Sometimes, the key to successful media relations is not to make the call, but to make another call instead. To have such a trustful relationship with your client that you can look them in the eye and say: “Listen, we should not offer major opportunity A to tier 1 journalist B – simply because she automatically shuts her ears off as soon as a PR agency is on the line – but on the other hand, he/she will probably listen if YOU offer it.” You can, of course, make the experience as easy as possible, provide the client with the contact details, a brief – you’ve probably already got one – and some pointers on how to proceed. And when the Tier 1 media coverage shows up in record numbers, hope and pray that some of the client’s glory rubs off on you.

That’s not sneaking away from your work. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what media relations work is about - advising the client how to best get the message across . And wasting nobody’s time in the process.