Media Relations is a core part of PR and can be one of the trickiest. A colleague of mine is a master of TV placements, both local and national. She gets calls from big agencies all the time because their teams can’t book segments like she can. What’s the secret? Well, a large part her success is relationships. It is, after all, called Media Relations.

What if you don’t have those relationships? Start right now to create and maintain them. It is the very best investment you can make.

It’s not enough to sign up for HARO and get Cision and pitch, pitch, pitch. That’s a “gimme” approach. As with any relationship, you need to give before you take. Flow them some love before you ask for a placement.

So what can you do while you build the relationships you need?

Do your Homework

See what they write about. Follow them on social media. Read their blog. Leave a relevant comment. Be a fangirl. Share their work. Compliment them when they do a great story. You’ll soon be on their radar.

20 years ago, when I started teaching PR courses, the number one complaint reporters and editors had about PR pros was that we’re lazy and we don’t do our homework. We send irrelevant releases or we send the material to the wrong reporter. And this is still their number one complaint. That means we’ve learned nothing in 20 years! Before you send a release make sure you are sending relevant, newsworthy material to the right person.

Since I now have a blog about PR and technology, I’m on lists like Cision. Apparently I’m listed as a tech reporter. I get the most bizarre pitches that have less than nothing to do with what I write about. A few minutes reading my blog would avoid that. It says right at the top that I cover how technology affects the practice of PR. Not IT. Not security apps. Not CES gadgets. So I get their frustration.

Look for Gaps you can Fill

Many media outlets have had to lay off newsroom staff. See what beats are not being well covered. What stories were being told that are now not covered anymore, due to lack of resources. Maybe you have a story that can fill that gap.

Have they laid off photographers or videographers? More than 80% of media stories have excellent quality visuals. Publishers know this attracts views and engagement. Most media outlets lack these resources now. Take the time to learn how to take stunning photographs with your smartphone. Master the art of editing images. You don’t have to be a Photoshop expert – there are easy programs like Canva and PicMonkey that will get the job done. Take a look at Adobe Spark for quick, easy videos that make an impact.

Upgrade your Newsroom

Reporters, bloggers and other influencers are working under pressure today. They’re expected to cover more beats than before and deliver great visuals with every post or story. Reporters need experts to interview for stories – many of them don’t have the network of connections that the experienced journalists of the past had.

Provide them with an easy-to-find and easy-to-use visual newsroom that has all the resources they might need to write a story. Think of it this way – if you were a reporter on deadline and you had the choice between a bland news page with text links to releases in a PDF, or a newsroom with high quality images and videos available for embedding, whitepapers, case studies and an expert database, which one would you use? It truly is a no-brainer.

If your newsroom looks like this:

Newsroom text 2017

It’s past time to move to this:

online visual newsroom

The media is under pressure – they need more content, they have a minute-by-minute deadline now. The news cycle is 24/7. And they have fewer resources with which to produce these stories.

This truly is a time of opportunity for PR. We just have to see where these opportunities lie and learn how to take advantage of them.