The Marriage between PR folks and journalists
When couples get married, they often say they’ve tied the knot with their best friend, but they’ve also said “I do” to their in-laws. I’m sure everyone has their stories here, and as much as we’d all like to say marriage stays at home, it’s totally not true! It comes to work too. I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not talking about “bring your husband (or wife) to work day” or the fights married couples have over text message and e-mail throughout the day. I mean marriage between professionals who are on entirely different career tracks. In this case, I’m talking about PR folks and how they have a relationship (just like a marriage) with journalists.
Most PR crash courses or college professors will advise you that the client is number one, which for the most part is true. Without clients, you wouldn’t have a job. However, getting the client’s message disseminated is the other piece of the puzzle which is often overlooked by PR/media relations folks. Yes, you need to understand your client’s goals and what they are looking to accomplish to drive a successful campaign, but you also need to be able to get that message to the right members of the media to “start spreading the news.” That’s where the marriage between the PR person and the media becomes equally (if not more) important.
For example: If your client is a fashion brand or a store looking to get positive press about a new fashion accessory or a new designer, you (the PR person) has to know every fashion reporter, editor and producer out there. You also have to know what they like, what they don’t like, and the best time to reach them. But the hard part is there is not one right answer for everyone. Every member of the media is different, and they like different stuff. By understanding what makes each media contact tick, and sending them ONLY what would work for their column or show, will increase the validity of you as a PR/media relations professional and the brand you are representing as a whole.
So, just like a marriage, you need to know what your significant other is thinking. With every pitch you send, make sure it’s a good one, and make sure it is focused to that person’s publication or show. Generic is obvious. And the media doesn’t like generic. My best advice here (from the other side of the tracks,) watch TV, read and keep your eyes open to what everyone is writing about. Then, pitch them that. You are not wasting your time at work by watching a show, getting to know the segments in a show and who produces which segment. Instead, you are thoroughly doing your job so you don’t have to send (or blast) a gazillion pitches. You’ll get your client’s product talked about with a couple phone calls or e-mails to the right people.