PR is a pretty straightforward must-do for any entrepreneur and business owner.  It’s not sexy nor provides any ‘WOW’ in the short term immediate future.  But it is definitely a long term lasting play that can differentiate you from the competition.  And with the advent of improved technology it is easier than ever to build media relationships – which is the key to your long term success.

Professionally or personally it can take you weeks, months and even years to build a strong relationship with someone.  But with a “snap” of a finger you can break a relationship just like that.  Reason is? People are people.  They have rules and when they are broken so is the bond between two people.  When you break the complexity of a human being down to the basics, we want to know we matter and we want others to know we care.  There is an old adage that says, we will do more for others than we will for ourselves.

So why is it, that some people can’t build a relationship?  Especially when everyone wants the same thing?

The answer is simple – it is because we are selfish.  Wait what?  You are probably thinking.  “Me? Selfish?”

Yes.  And here is why.

Do you want others to have a great experience in your presence?  How does that make you feel?  My guess is good.  So, why would you want to be another?  Because you want to feel good.  See how it comes down to you?

But what is selfish really?

It is self care – you taking care of you and what is important to you.

So how does this relate to building relationships with media?  It is the opportunity for you to feel good.

Now the question is… How?  How do you go about building a relationship – knowing you are selfish and others are as well?

First you must understand this principle… Giving starts the receiving process.

When you give to someone you are actually allowing good to flow to you as well.  Relating this to the PR and media world, when you reach out to build media relations – your job is to give to them.

Ask yourself – what do they need?  How can I make their world better? Building media relationships is about making sure they are getting what they need in order for you to get what you need.  Give them content … they give you exposure.

Earned Media needs Earned Trust

Let’s get to the heart of the matter: Why should you care about building relationships?

It is safe to say that trying to get exposure on media platforms for your clients is a critical piece to your work as a PR professional.  But that is your sole desired outcome, then you will find yourself always chasing and never feeling a sense of growth or fulfilment.

However if your desired outcome is to build relationships, then what happens is you win on many fronts.  You become a person of value.  The media looks at you as an asset and as you know assets are things people like to hold on to. 

Since we are all selfish in nature, we really only care for what is in it for us.  And that is like to negative ends to a magnet trying to connect.  They end up repelling.  A person of value flips the magnet and attracts what they need.  This small shift is – you quit wondering “when is it my turn” and focus on “how do I make a difference.”

How would you sell a pizza?  Let people taste it, right?  You must be willing to give in order to get.  In relationship building, it is called being vulnerable, being open.  You are willing to offer something expecting nothing in return.

Building media relations requires you to become a trusted source.

So where do you start?

Imagine you want to get into a specific media outlet.  You have no connections or no history to begin a relationship.  This is where relationship building skills are so powerful.  You can have the best story idea.  You can be the only source for information.  For the media who is actively looking for your specific story they will reach out.  But that is in most cases only a small percentage.

So you need to be the one to do the work so the media will have you become top of mind, even when the story they work on is not your expertise or direct topic of interest.

To begin from nothing.  You must think about being kind.  When a business wants to succeed it must first get the attention of the people it wants to serve.  Then when it has the attention, it must be able to provide an answer to the question of its audience, why is this relevant for me?  And then that is when the business needs to be clear and provide some kind of value in order for the audience it attracted to take some prescribed action.

How can you get noticed by the media?

  1. Be kind.  If you do your homework you will find a story that they have covered that has some interest to you or relevancy to your work.  Being kind can as simple as a note or a phone letting them know the impact their work had on you.
  2. Be helpful.  When someone offers to help there is a split second feeling of you feeling appreciated.  Even if you don’t want it or need it when they ask.  You do feel appreciative.  And that in turn has you show gratitude.  The media person is no different.  They want to know they matter.  They want to know that they can rely on others.  Besides they know they need others in order to make a story come to life.
  3. Be consistent.  Just because you reached out one time to someone does not mean a relationship is built.  A solid relationship is a series of touch points over time.  Take a moment now and think of one of your good friends.  There was a time when you did not know each other.  Then there was a first point of contact.  Then there was another and another and so on.  Fast forward to today.  You have many memories and built trust with other.  Your job in the process of building media relations is like a salesperson following up on a prospect.  If you truly believe you have value for them – all you need to do is stay in touch.

The whole concept of media relations is based on the principle that it is important to give in order to receive.  What media needs is just as important as what you need.  The digitization of PR has some how eliminated the outreach action that makes media coverage so powerful for people in business. Focus on building relationships and everyone benefits.

What can you do today that will bring value to your ideal media outlet’s journalist, editor, host or producer?