Best Practices for Media Relations in a Post-Pandemic World

by Vicki LaBrosse

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how people live and how businesses operate, and the media and media relations were no exception. Organizations have to adapt and learn how different communication channels function and use these appropriately to reach and relate with their target audiences. With fewer media outlets than ever before, how are PR pros pivoting and changing the ways they approach media relations in 2021? There are many ways companies can focus on and sustain customer engagement. One of these is establishing media relations suitable for the current situation. Here are some best practices that will help enable your organization or your clients to improve the quantity and quality of their coverage.

Provide value with relevant PR.

Pitch stories that are relevant to what your audience cares about in this exact moment. Choose the right story and offer solutions when you engage with the media and your audience. Staying on top of what is happening and how it is affecting your audience will allow you to offer educational insights and position your organization as the thought leader in your industry. This will help your company increase its visibility and build strong relationships and trust among your target audience. Audience interest in your story can lead to media interest in your story.

Choose a suitable platform.

With more people than ever working from home, many now rely more on digital platforms to communicate, conduct business and stay connected. There are so many influential platforms available today, and PR pros must decide which one fits the message. From published daily papers to podcasts, hand selecting your platform to launch your news increases the effectiveness of your media relations program.

Take opportunities to help the media.

Like PR professionals, journalists and producers are working to adjust to the “new normal.” Make an extra effort to understand the media’s needs by identifying the coverage interest of outlets and reporters. Adjusting your pitching and follow-up strategies around this knowledge will both make you more effective and help media professionals do their jobs. The key is operating with a mindset of wanting to serve the press rather than having the press serve you.

Make personal engagement a priority.

Personal engagement with the media has been eroding for many years. Technology such as texting, Slack and social media have contributed to this. PR professionals need to find new ways to create personal engagement. Platforms like Zoom with video and screen share capabilities are a great tool to engage the press in a face-to-face environment. Remote interviews for TV and online media outlets have always been possible but were not usually preferred. With fewer in-person engagements, this means training clients to make Skype and Zoom interviews interesting. With the improved technology we now have in place, we can expect this trend to continue.

Build and cultivate solid relationships.

For a good part of 2020, if your story was not about COVID-19, it was difficult to get reporters to engage with any story pitch. Not only do PR professionals need a strong hook to garner journalists’ attention, but you also need a good relationship. The media industry is suffering because of the economic shutdown. Some outlets have let go of some of their employees, and reporters are swamped with work and deadlines. Media outlets have to produce a lot of content with ever-dwindling staff and are relying increasingly on outside sources to provide that content. Be that go-to source for content that media professionals can rely on. Be kind in your interactions with the press. It humanizes you and builds your relationship with the person you are talking to. Good relationships can take you a long way.

About the Author

Vicki LaBrosse, director of global public relations, Edge Marketing, has more than 18 years of marketing and communications experience in both the legal and accounting industries. LaBrosse works with clients to develop and execute comprehensive PR and marketing strategies that will help grow their business.