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Engaging with the press to communicate a company’s message to its target audience and stakeholders is indispensable as it adds third-party validation, making it powerful and credible. Even with the advent of social media, where messages “go viral” overnight, the press or media remains the most trusted and cost-effective method to boost the reach of a message.

As a PR practitioner, if you can pitch your company’s story or product to the right contact at a media organization, who then plugs it into an article about a trending topic or a timely event, your message has the potential to reach a large audience.A successful PR campaign aims at creating a buzz through earned media coverage in various mediums such as print, digital, online, and social media. To achieve this, a significant part of a PR practitioner’s job is dedicated to cultivating and strengthening relations with the media, which includes editors and reporters at online and print media outlets, as well as producers and news hosts at TV and radio channels.

Media relations, which essentially means consolidating and building ongoing relationships with key target journalists and other media contacts to get coverage, is a key element to successful public relations. A well-planned and executed media relations strategy is fundamental for any company seeking to increase its visibility in the media.

Here are some factors to consider when approaching media contacts for press coverage:

Pitching a Story
Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day with companies vying for coverage in their publication. As a PR professional trying to pitch a press release to an editor, your success depends on whether you actually grab their attention, which in turn depends on how well you tell your story and also its timeliness. Your story must stand out among other corporate press releases and most importantly, be relevant to the editor and the media organization’s audiences.

Long-term Relationship
A journalist who has a long-term working relationship with a PR agency will be more likely to provide press coverage for the agency’s client, than a journalist who is being pitched to with no prior relationship. It is therefore crucial that PR professionals cultivate relationships that go beyond a client’s PR campaign. Hosting regular networking events or lunch meetings, offering free PR packages or goodie bags, can all help to establish a positive and friendly rapport with media persons.

A Mutually Beneficial Partnership
Media relations should always benefit both parties. When done well, it is a collaboration that ensures both sides get what they want – PR agencies get coverage for their clients while media persons get valuable and high quality content  they share with their audiences. Therefore, it is essential that PR practitioners make the job of their media contacts easier by providing them what they want and need  withstory ideas, media opportunities, spokespersons for a story, unique industry insights and other unique content.

Be Patient

Even if your press releases are not published, stay in touch with the journalists through consistent communication. Focus on building a good relationship with the media person and with time, your brand will earn its place in the media.

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