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What is Media Relations?


Weslie Oeftering
What is Media Relations?

In my post from earlier this year, What is PR, Anyway?, I go over the very basics of what PR is. I highly recommend checking it out if this is your first time here at PR Over Coffee. In this post, and in more posts to come, I will be getting more specific. I’ll be taking a deep dive into the different functions of PR, like crisis communications, investor relations, and internal communications. But for now, let’s talk about media relations.

First and foremost, it’s important to clarify that public relations and media relations are not different terms for the same thing. Media relations falls under the public relations umbrella. While media relations does take up a big part of a PR professional’s job description, it’s not the only thing a PR professional does.

Media Relations Defined

In short, media relations is building relationships with news outlets and journalists. Building relationships with the media is crucial to getting the public informed about an organization. Getting a story about your client in the news is known as earned media because you don’t own the story (owned media) and you didn’t pay for the story (paid media).

Building relationships with the media is easier said than done. Most journalists are constantly receiving emails with pitches from companies that are vying for their time. And, just because a journalist has covered a client for you before doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep working on your relationship with them. This aspect of media relations is why it is so important to have a solid, curated media list for each and every client and different news angles.

Media relations is also why being an excellent writer is such an important quality in a PR pro. Sure, journalists will be writing the news story, but the ability to write a compelling story via email (or even Twitter DM!) is the best way to stand out in a journalist’s crowded inbox.

When to Pitch a Journalist

However, it’s also important to know when you should reach out to a journalist. Sending them an email with the most mundane update about a client is generally seen as unprofessional. However, if you can give it an interesting spin, then even the most mundane update can be newsworthy. Instances where it is appropriate to pitch a story about your client to a journalist include (but are not limited to!):

  • The launch of a new product or service
  • Quarterly financial earnings surpassed expectations
  • The opening of a new office location
  • Industry awards that a client just earned
  • The launch of a new ad campaign

About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. Swyft is a tech PR firm in Austin with offices in Denver, Houston and Antwerp that provides PR services and trade show media support for tech companies around the world. Some of their services include media relations, content and inbound marketing, CPC campaigns, and marketing automation consulting.

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