Navigating Media Relations: 19 Essential Tips For Approaching Journalists

You could be forgiven for finding pitching to the media a complex and often difficult task. In an industry that’s not just rapidly evolving but constantly changing, building relationships with the right people in the right publications and channels is absolutely vital.

Regardless of whether you’re a growing startup or an established business, understanding the landscape of your local, regional and national media is crucial to raising your profile and establishing your brand, product or service.

One thing many people fail to understand is that building relationships with media professionals is not just about securing column inches or garnering coverage, it’s about crafting and conveying a narrative that resonates with both the journalist and their audience.

At the heart of any media engagement lies the message – a critical component that needs to be articulated with clarity and precision. However, the journey from drafting a message to seeing it published involves several strategic steps, each requiring careful consideration and expertise.

If you truly want to build a successful media relationship then you need to go beyond the confines of a single message or story, having a broader understanding of the media landscape and an appreciation of the needs and preferences of journalists coupled with a commitment to nurturing long-term relationships will help you build long and short term PR campaigns to be proud of.

At Excalibur Press we specialise in supporting our clients through the whole PR journey, whether simply writing and distributing a particular release or working strategically over a period of time to brainstorm, write, distribute, report, monitor and evaluate your media relations the magic of our service is we can mentor you through the steps, execute small elements of the process or look after your entire public relations needs. Better still, our flexible service doesn’t lock you into inflexible contracts that simply don’t work for today’s economic climate.

The role of timing and exclusivity in media relations can’t be overstated. Knowing when to pitch your story, how to make it stand out, and understanding the importance of journalists’ deadlines are crucial factors that can significantly impact the success of your media outreach. The journey in media relations doesn’t end with the publication of your story. It involves a continuous cycle of monitoring, responding, learning, and adapting. From evaluating the impact of your media coverage to understanding the reasons behind rejections.

Here are 19 top tips to help you better engage with the media:

1. Defining Your Message

Clarity in messaging is critical. It’s essential to ensure your message doesn’t get lost in translation or misrepresented.

When crafting your message, consider how it will be interpreted by a wider audience.

Develop a comprehensive communication plan, and create a succinct, well-articulated written press release to mitigate any risk of misinterpretation.

2. Relevance to the Public Interest

Journalists want stories that resonate with their audience, either through direct benefit or general interest. Evaluate how your message aligns with public interest.

It’s not enough to promote your agenda; find a compelling angle that provides value or intrigue to the journalist’s audience.

3. Assessing Benefits to Your Business

Reflect on why media exposure is necessary for your message and what your business stands to gain.

Weigh this against other marketing strategies. If the benefits aren’t clear or substantial, it may not be the right time to engage with the media.

4. Understanding the Risks

Media exposure can be a double-edged sword. Consider any potential risks, such as drawing unwanted attention to sensitive areas of your business.

Ensure that the narrative focuses on your intended message rather than any negative aspects.

5. Choosing the Right Journalist

Familiarise yourself with the Press Complaints Commission’s code of ethics.

Building a relationship with local journalists can be advantageous, as they are often more invested in community stories.

However, maintain a professional distance and choose a journalist whose style and audience align with your message.

6. Preparing for the Interview

If your outreach is successful, be prepared for interviews.

Train spokespeople on how to effectively communicate key messages, handle difficult questions, and stay on topic.

This preparation is crucial for maintaining control over the narrative.

7. Timing Your Approach

Consider the timing of your approach.

Align your communication with relevant news cycles, avoiding periods of media saturation unless your story is exceptionally newsworthy.

Timing can greatly influence the level of attention your story receives.

8. Leveraging Social Proof

Journalists are more inclined to cover stories that already have some traction.

If possible, demonstrate social proof such as customer testimonials, social media engagement, or prior media coverage to make your story more appealing.

9. Following Up Respectfully

After sending your press release or pitch, follow up respectfully.

Journalists are often busy, so a gentle reminder about your story can be helpful. However, avoid being overly persistent, which can be counterproductive.

10. Understanding the Media Landscape

Stay informed about the media landscape, including trends, popular topics, and the specific interests of different publications and journalists.

This knowledge enables you to tailor your pitch to align with current interests and increases the likelihood of your story being picked up.

11. Building Long-Term Relationships

Rather than approaching journalists only when you need something, aim to build ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships.

Share useful information, even when it’s not directly related to your business, and be a reliable source.

This long-term approach can lead to more media opportunities over time.

12. Offer Exclusive Content

Consider offering exclusive information or access to certain journalists.

Exclusivity can be a strong incentive for media professionals to cover your story, especially if it’s a significant announcement or a unique perspective on a trending topic.

13. Utilising Multimedia

Enhance your press releases and pitches with high-quality multimedia elements like images, videos, or infographics.

These elements can make your story more engaging and easier for journalists to transform into compelling content for their audiences.

14. Monitoring and Responding to Media Coverage

After your story is published, monitor the coverage closely.

Be ready to respond to any follow-up queries or to clarify any points.

Positive engagement with journalists post-coverage can reinforce your relationship and increase your credibility.

15. Learning from Rejections

If your story doesn’t get picked up, use it as a learning opportunity.

Don’t hesitate to ask journalists for feedback.

Understanding why a pitch was rejected can provide valuable insights for future interactions.

16. Adapting to Different Formats

Different media outlets and journalists have varying preferences for how they receive information.

Some may prefer detailed press releases, while others might want concise pitches or even pitches via social media.

Adapt your approach according to their preferences.

17. Respecting Journalists’ Deadlines

Be mindful of journalists’ deadlines.

Providing information in a timely manner can be the difference between your story being used or disregarded.

If you’re providing comments or answers to questions, do so as quickly as possible.

18. Offering a Fresh Angle

Journalists are always looking for a new angle on a story.

Offer a unique perspective or a fresh take on a familiar topic.

This can make your story more appealing and increase the chances of it being covered.

19. Evaluating the Impact of Your Story

After your story has been covered, evaluate its impact.

Assess how it was received by the audience, the engagement it generated, and how it aligned with your objectives.

This evaluation will guide your strategy for future media interactions.


Did you know?At Excalibur Press we offer brainstorm and ideation sessions as well as full service PR. Some of our clients who look after their own public relations simply book in with us once a month to discuss their strategy and brainstorm ideas.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how we can help you contact [email protected] or [email protected]

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