Guest blogger Rachael Stanton is an assistant account executive at The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations firm in New Orleans. She works on several traditional public and media relations efforts, as well as public outreach campaigns, for clients across the Gulf Coast. Originally from Mandeville, La., Rachael graduated from Louisiana State University in May 2013, earning a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in public relations and minors in business administration and history. After graduating, she began her communications career by working with nonprofit associations as an assistant association manager at The Tatman Group.
As a public relations professional, it is your job to build relationships and maintain a credible reputation for the company you represent and the clients you service.
We are constantly shaping and maintaining the company’s image to anyone who has or will form an opinion about the organization and its representatives. For example, a large corporation like Walmart has many different target audiences. Its messages need to reach current and potential customers, employees, investors and vendors. One way to make sure these messages reach Walmart’s audiences is through media relations.
Studies have shown that people are more likely to believe what they read in the news rather than in a paid advertisement. This makes media relations even more important. Here are some tips for pitching a story to the media:
- Make sure your story is relevant — your pitch should be newsworthy, timely and explain why the story is important.
- Know AP style — when I was learning AP style in college, I did not realize how valuable it would be to me. Turns out, reporters expect PR professionals to provide them with content that is written in AP style. I use it every day.
- Reach out to the right people — in order to effectively communicate to the right audience, you need to make sure you reach out to the right media. Writers will need to report about the industry and produce content that is relevant to their beat. Read their previous articles and feature stories to make sure you contact the right person.
- Build a relationship — reporters are real people with real lives, just like you. They want to engage with people who understand what is interesting and relevant. As PR professionals, we build relationships with different reporters by offering them valuable content and serving as a resource to them.
- Visuals are key—include high-resolution photos, videos, hyperlinks and infographics, along with your contact information. Visual content will engage the writer, which helps market and sell a story. It will also provide extra content that can be used in a story.
- Choose your channel wisely — Email is easy to ignore, calls can be annoying and social media can be tricky, but all are lines of communication to reach reporters. It all depends on a writer’s preference.
By reading the news, developing relationships with the media and effectively telling your clients’ stories through words and visuals, you can be on your way to mastering the art of media relations.