Media relations is no 'direct marketing' stunt

A vital aspect of PR nurtures a specific skill set necessary to reach the media and secure placements.

A vital aspect of PR nurtures a specific skill set necessary to reach the media and secure placements. The sought-after media coverage now means so much more than it used to and has changed the practice of media relations.

Media today has spread to multiple channels and platforms where, among others, social media takes a large role.  PR people of all stripes seek more fans, more friends, and more effective relations online and over the media. Reaching that point requires an investment of time, thought, and energy as opposed to a tendency to link digital media to “immediate” media.

We used to consider outreach to media as media relations. Today, media has expanded so widely that this function of managing relations requires more strategic thinking and replaces the "smile-and-dial" attitude. Being active in social media means running a "rolling press conference" and never leaving the podium. Similar to the way PR executives mingle with journalists and build a long-term relationship over mutual interests, it's vital to bridge between the digital coldness and the human touch belonging to the person behind the screen.

The key to this is understanding the interaction that takes place on Twitter and Facebook. These primary social media tools today share a human interest for social interaction. Proper media relations cannot be a one-time dance like direct marketing emails which are usually single-purposed, well-focused, and serve market niches.

Media relations today requires consistent efforts. The saying goes that just like a pet – if you don't “feed” your Twitter – it will die. Just like the traditional media relations where a single story shared with an editor will not change one's business, today's media relations too require more discussion-generating contents over social platforms.

“What's in it for me” is still an enigma when it comes to digital media relations. Branding efforts are directly affected, SEO objectives are more easily accomplished, and, most of all – the skill and expertise of creating interest among the key publics is achieved through the “new” media relations.

Ronn Torossian is president and CEO of 5WPR.

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