What is media relations? That’s a question I get a lot. Many people don’t understand the media relations definition, and I can see why it’s difficult to comprehend. Even family members and friends ask me, “What does a media relations specialist do?” So, I’m going to break it down here.
Media Relations Definition
When I asked Google to define media relations, it told me “Media relations refer to the relationship that a company or organization develops with journalists, while public relations extend that relationship beyond the media to the general public.”
My client, the Beebo, feature on the Rachael Ray Show
In other words, it’s earning placement in the media without paying for it. When you pay for it, it’s advertising. When you don’t pay for it, it’s media relations.
The picture above shows media coverage I earned for my client, the Beebo. The Beebo was featured in a segment called “Human Lab” that showed local mothers testing out three different baby products.
Public Relations Media Relations
Aren’t they the same thing? Well, no.
Many people think they are the same thing and get them confused because most people want public relations forthe media relations. There is a lot more to public relations – there’s writing, blogging, social media, events, photography, video, advertising, SEO, and much more. Media relations is just one part of public relations. Many times, it’s the most popular part.
So now that you’re clear on what media relations is, you’re probably wanting to hear some media relations tactics, right? I’ve also included a media relations plan template and guide that will help you as well. Click here to access that or scroll down.
Have a Media Relations plan.
I meet with so many people who say they want to earn media for their brand, but aren’t specific as to where they want media and what kind of media they want. Having a media relations plan means you know exactly who you want to target – the journalist at the media outlet – and you know with what story angle you want to pitch them. Make sure your plan is very specific.
Practice Media Relations 101.
What is media relations 101? In a sentence – it’s not calling a journalist when you first attempt to pitch them. While some prefer to work on the phone, most do not. (Here’s an example of that.) For many, it’s just not convenient.
Most prefer to receive an email. A short email. If you want to send a press release, copy and paste it in the body of the email instead of sending it as an attachment. But today, you don’t need a press release to pitch the media.
The fortune is in the follow up, so don’t email once and leave it there. Wait a few days. Then, you can send a follow up email, make a call, or even send a tweet.
Use these Media Relations tips.
Do not look for a free commercial. You will not earn coverage if you just want to promote your brand. Instead, you need to tell a story and the best way to do that is by using what I call the three Es:
If you can offer a story that educates, entertains, and offers some kind of emotion to the media outlet’s viewers and/or readers, you will earn media coverage. The hardest part is finding that story, but every brand has a story to tell! You just need to know how to look for it.
When I was working with Heat Running, I did not focus on the app itself. Instead, I focused on the story behind the app and the creators. With this approach, I earned Heat Running coverage in Women’s Running, Men’s Fitness, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Today Show, Runner’s World, and many others.
My client, Heat Running, featured in Runner’s World
Need more help? No problem. That’s why I’m here! Check out this media relations guide that also serves as a media relations plan template to start earning your brand exposure in the media.
Regarding media exposure, I’ve had this conversation many times:
You: “I think I have a great product, but no one knows about it.”Me: “Do you have someone handling your public relations?”You: “We looked into it, but it’s so expensive. We’re just trying to do it ourselves for now.”Me: “Well, what are you doing?”You: “We post on social media and send out press releases, but it’s like people still don’t know we exist.”
Well, if you want to know why you’re not earning media exposure… maybe it’s because you’re not making yourself, your product, your service, your business, or even your brand newsworthy.
1. You’re not earning media exposure because you are sending a press release.
Before I start working with most clients, the words “press release” are usually spoken in the first 10 minutes… and not by me. I don’t like press releases, but many small business owners insist on me writing them and sending them out. If this is what you’re doing, this is why they may not be working for you:
Your press release is too long
Your press release is boring
Your press release is complicated
Your press release is not newsworthy
Your press release is too evergreen
2. You’re not earning media exposure because you are reaching out to the wrong people.
Earning media coverage is hard. Because it’s not only free, but much more effective than advertising, small business owners want it for their brand. Many times, this means pitching anyone and everyone in the media industry with an email address. This is not effective. When I was a TV reporter in Miami, I would receive pitches that included a topic in a different market, a topic I have never covered before, a topic that would never be covered by the TV station itself, and the list goes on.
3. You’re not earning media exposure because you are promoting your brand too much.
While some media coverage may end up being seen as a great commercial for a brand, it should never be pitched this way. Remember, the job of a journalist is to tell a story that will educate, entertain, and evoke some kind of emotion in the reader or viewer. If your brand isn’t doing that with a pitch, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
4. You’re not earning media exposure because you are not trying hard enough.
Very rarely does a member of the media come to you. If one does, consider yourself lucky and that a rare occasion. Journalists work 24/7 – at 2:00 am, on Christmas morning, and many times in a few different cities in just a couple of days. It’s not a 9-5 job, so you cannot treat your outreach like it is.
5. You’re not earning media exposure because you are not ready.
If your website is not up and running or if your product is not ready for distribution, then you are not ready to earn media exposure. Unless you have a solid business plan with something to see, people to talk to, and documents to share, then you need to do more on the business side before trying to earn exposure in the media.
Now that you know what’s not working, why not try some things that work? In this free e-mail course, I’ll teach how to right some of these wrongs.
There are a lot of pains and a lot of gains in the public relations industry. Some things are understood, while others things are not… by both the clients and the media. The business is changing and so are the rules.
I operate my business very transparently. I’m not going to sugar coat things or send false promises your way, so if you want to know some things, sit back… here are eight things you didn’t know about the public relations industry.
It’s not about sending emails. It’s about building relationships. My contacts in the media don’t owe me anything, so I need to maintain good working relationships with them in order to do my job successfully. Luckily, I worked on that side of things for 10 years and have great relationships with people in the industry. True story: I have seen stories turned down because of the less than likability factor of the publicist handling the client, even though the client was a great fit for a story. Also, I have earned many clients publicity after sending a Facebook message to a friend.
Media relations take time. If you want to see results fast, buy an advertisement. If you want to see more meaningful results over time, hire a publicist. Timing is everything when it comes to earned media. Just because it’s not in print today, doesn’t mean it won’t be in three months. Be patient.
We can only lead a horse to water. If you want publicity, that’s on me as a PR professional. But if you are not doing your part as a business owner to get that horse to the drink the water I led them to, there is only so much I can do at that point. For example, if your website needs help, I will refer you to one of the website developers I work with. What you choose to do after that is out of my control. I once had a client who wanted me to promote her business, but her website wasn’t completed yet. If your online store isn’t open for business, what’s the point of media coverage?
Our work never stops. News is a never ending cycle. It’s just about impossible to take a day off. It could mean a missed opportunity. (That’s why when we reach out to you with a question or request for a certain picture, we need it ASAP.)
There is a level of skill and expertise to what we do. I am providing a service that has taken me years to learn through a variety of different experiences. Just because you have a Facebook page or Instagram account does not mean you know how to strategically promote a business via social media. If I had a dollar every time someone told me they didn’t need social media help because their nephew was doing it for them in their spare time…
What you pay for may not be what it seems. Don’t be fooled by the big, beautiful office and fancy website of a well known firm. Many times, the people running the firm won’t even send an email on your behalf. After you pay your retainer, your campaign is given to a low level staffer to do all the work. Make sure you know who is really working on your account.What is published or aired is usually out of our control. Remember, we don’t write the articles or direct the live TV interviews. Instead, we make you look good so other people want to tell the story we’re pitching them. Sometimes, you may not like the way something is written or the way a question is asked. That’s public relations – how someone in the public is perceiving you, your brand, or your business. I once represented a baby product and around National Reading Month. During that time, I used the product to promote reading to infants and included the benefits of doing so. Well, one writer I pitched happened to have a child who was deaf. She did not believe reading to infants was beneficial at all. Needless to say, she didn’t write an amazing review. Sometimes, these things happen.
No one wants to give you a free commercial. It’s your business and it’s your product, so of course you think it’s the best thing since sliced bread and makes a great story… but so does every other entrepreneur. It needs to be more than that to earn media coverage. For this reason, let your publicist guide the process of developing the newsworthy content for the media.
Interested in learning more about public relations? Well, you’re in the right place. Not only do I fill this blog with tons of PR information, but you may love my new online course, Master your PR. It teaches you exactly what to do to earn your brand media exposure without spending big bucks on public relations.
Because of my decade of experience working on-air, then in public relations – I know what works and what doesn’t… and I’m going to share it all with you! I’ve gotten clients featured on the Today Show, the Rachael Ray Show, in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Men’s Fitness, Food & Wine, Entrepreneur, and much more.
I attribute my success to two things:
Maintaining great relations with colleagues in the media industry
Telling great, newsworthy stories
While, I can’t give you my relationships with media professionals, I can tell you how to start them, build them, and keep them. I can also direct you, so you’re able to find your brand’s story, craft it, and pitch it to the media.
I’ll teach you all of this, step-by-step. By the end of Master your PR, you will know:
How to find your brands story
How to find the correct media, then pitch them effectively
How to talk to the media so you and your brand shine
How to become a regular on TV as a panelist
How to earn yourself publicity as an expert in your industry, and much more
Making an appearance on the Today Show is a dream goal for almost any business or brand. Most of them tell me, “I want to be on the Today Show” within hours of beginning our work together. Then I say, “Yeah, you and everyone else.” (I am very honest with my clients… and I never promise coverage, especially coverage on Today.)
But, I have earned a couple of them coverage on Today and I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it, so you can do it too. Click here to see the story.
Remember, this isn’t advertising. This is public relations… media relations to be more specific. If you want earned media, you need to have a newsworthy story to tell. I like to use the three E’s to determine if a story is newsworthy:
When I started working with Heat Running, a fitness app, I knew I could earn the creators coverage because of the story behind it. It had all of my three E’s. That’s how I earned them coverage – not because of the app. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but so are thousands of other apps out there. The story behind the app is even better.
So, you have the three E’s… but let’s focus on that last one. Making something newsworthy also means having a “real person” to interview. Arya, one of the creators, is that “real person” the Today Show was interested in.
Here’s another example. An owner of a jewelry store in Boca Raton, where customers can come in and make their own jewelry, wants media attention for her business. After talking to her to find a story, we found one: Moms were coming in to make their own jewelry for fun, but some turned it into their own at-home business and became entrepreneurs. It all started at this store, so obviously the store would be mentioned and hopefully, the owner would be interviewed, but the story wouldn’t be about the jewelry store or the owner. It’d be about that “real person.” That “real person” is usually where the emotional aspect comes into the story… and it is much needed!
I earned Heat Running coverage on the ABC station in their local market of Washington DC. I also earned them coverage in Men’s Fitness, Women’s Running, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and others… all in three months.
From those media hits, came others – like Today. I also put the creators in touch with an interested writer at Runner’s World, so expect to see something there soon. Getting in this magazine was another big goal for my client, so it feels great to make it happen… even if it’s seven months after I originally pitched them. (Yes, PR takes time.)