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Media Relations: Advice from a Producer turned PR Pro

Media Relations is a key component of being a public relations professional. It’s one of the only things I really knew about many years ago when I changed my career path and moved from the newsroom to the field of public relations. If you want to have a great relationship with a reporter or editor, my advice is simple – don’t be a jerk.  I know, it seems like easy advice, and while I know PR Pros usually have the best of intentions when pitching – you could unwittingly be turning off the very people you need to help tell your clients’ stories.

When I was a producer, I had my “Go To” PR folks. The reason I depended on them so much was because they understood what I needed and how to best deliver it to me. My preferences might have been different from other producers, but good PR folks learn those preferences and tailor their outreach based on the individual. Remember, all producers are not created equal! Below are a few of the keys I looked for in the past, and what folks I work with on a daily basis tell me is important to them.

Don’t Pitch it if it’s Not News

One of my favorite producers always said, “if you wouldn’t stop and look at your TV when the story starts, neither will our viewers.” I know- not EVERYTHING is earth-shattering, front-page news from your clients. Heck, sometimes you’re forced to pitch things that don’t seem like news at all. That’s where finding a “nugget” of information comes in to play. Is there a specific day or month dedicated to your client’s work? Is there an event that could tie in to what your client does? Is it a national trend you can localize? Sometimes it feels like a stretch, but if you take the time to create a legitimate news angle, the producers will appreciate it.

Don’t Spam Your Producers and Editors

Think your client has newsworthy items every day? Think again. Don’t send a pitch to the same producer for the same client every day. Be strategic in your planning and reach out when it really makes sense. Producers can become blind to you if you are constantly showing up in their emails/voicemails. If you do this, when you really do have a great story, you’re going to have a tough time getting the producer to pay attention.

Don’t be Needy

Reach out even when you don’t need anything: Know a producer or editor who likes candy or donuts? How about an invite to Happy Hour (not to pitch)?  Our team looks for opportunities when we can show our appreciation, without expecting anything in return. Media Relations is all about relationships (hence the phrase). Building trust and being genuinely friendly with your producers and editors is paramount! Not only will you likely make friends that last a lifetime, you’ll often be top-of-mind when they are looking for a source or story.

Be Responsive

When media reaches out to you, respond back ASAP! Even if your response is that you don’t have an answer right now or send a quick note to say, “let me see what I can find and get back to you.” Producers will often reach out to you first, if they know you’ll get right back to them as quickly as you can. Don’t let a call or email sit for too long, or you’ll miss the immediate chance, and likely be put on the producer’s “not responsive” list (trust me, these exist – I had them).

These tips might seem simple, but they are the bedrock of successful relationships with media. The team at BIG YAM practices what we preach and would love to help you get your story told. Give us a ring and we’ll get back to you – we live and die by rule #4.