Relationships with the media should be built on a successful and fruitful partnership, rather than on operational needs and wants. Otherwise, the media will feel used as a tool to facilitate processes.
Abdullah Inayat, Co-Founder & Media Relations Director of W7Worldwide, which is a company specialized in offering strategic and media consultancy, introduced 7 tips to insure a great relationship with the media. Building a relationship based on partnership, plus speaking eloquently, is sure to pave the way for a great relationship. A Public Relations expert must bear in mind important factors before proceeding to speak with media outlets, of which, it is important to find out the reporter’s name, background, employer (i.e. the media outlet), and target audience. Professional attire is equally important.
Inayat also advised to avoid replying to any questions with “No Comment”, since it will seem as if there is something to hide. It is best for the Public Relations representative to respond to the reporter that he does do not have an answer to that specific question, but it is important to address all questions that are raised.
Furthermore, Inayat also stressed the importance of choosing the best time to call the media, as well as the importance of engaging with them, interacting with them on social media and emailing them before calling, since most reporters are pressed for time.
Inayat said: “It is imperative for Public Relations and media representative to convince reporters to publish their reports, since skilled reporters are usually occupied with business topics on a daily basis. PR experts should send the subject in the reporter’s name, while sharing an analysis, their opinion on the topic and sharing all required information when requesting a press release for publication”.
Inayat pointed to an important factor, which is communicating with journalists on a personal level, by befriending and helping them in times of need. It is critical to interact with the journalist on a human level, rather than on a professional level only in order to build a lasting relationship.
He also emphasized the importance of facing problems and solving them, since it is essential for a Public Relations representative to be innovative and knowledgeable about actions to take in tough situations. This includes remaining calm, thinking via plans and facts and not reacting impulsively in scenarios which could backfire and ultimately cause more damage. It is vital for PR representatives to be innovative when resolving problems, avoiding attacking media channels and remaining professional when handling complications.
Inayat clarified that Public Relations Representatives should be intelligent, gracious, trustworthy, sharp and pay attention to detail when discussing topics while remaining formal yet approachable.
It is imperative for the Public Relations Representative to introduce himself, read and research on general topics, and read up on topics covered by the media, plus be well informed on media policies and procedures in order to create an interactive work environment for media channels and journalists.
Inayat advised for Public Relations representatives never to assume depth of knowledge without working continuously to increase information through nonstop research and reading. As part of their profession, they should rise above arguments and insignificant details and should remain calm, balanced, approachable and professional.