At the beginning of any new client relationship we as consultants are keen to impress, and it’s easy to get distracted by delivering ‘quick wins’. But a poorly prepared media relations programme will do little to serve your client in the long run. Investing time up front and following a systematic approach to developing your programme demonstrates strategic thinking and ensures your work brings real value to your client and their business.
Here are five things you should do when designing a media relations programme for your clients:
- Get to know the business
A thorough understanding of the business is absolutely fundamental to designing an effective media relations programme.
Become an expert in what they do. Have conversations with as many stakeholders as you can – because people will bring to life the essence of a company more than hours of desk research ever will. You’ll glean insights and illuminate the ‘passion points’ of the business – not just how it works, but what makes it tick.
- Have a clear point of view
The most interesting companies are the ones who are willing to speak to topics that extend beyond their immediate frame of reference, but that remain relevant to the business. How do the services or products they provide, or data they hold, fit into broader narratives, themes or events in the wider news agenda? What are their competitors saying, and what is your point of difference?
Consider what you have the right to talk about. Formalise these ideas into a platform that will serve to elevate your client to a ‘thought leader’, providing the framework for your media relations programme.
- Aim for quality over quantity
At MullenLowe salt, our founding belief, ‘there’s a better way to do PR’ still permeates our work today. We always make it clear to clients that the work we do is less ‘spray and pray’ – firing out press releases to as many publications as possible – and more about building relationships with key journalists in order to secure the coverage that will impress stakeholders and reach audiences to impact the bottom line.
Our approach is strategic: we value quality over quantity. These days, it’s rare that you’re going to get coverage in The Telegraph, Guardian and Financial Times with the same press release. So, instead of slaving over the perfect pitch, evaluate the information you have, figure out the story you want to tell, take it to your platinum targets and sound things out with them. Find out what the journalist needs to make it into a reality, and work with them to craft a story that guarantees coverage.
- Ensure variation
A media relations programme comprised of a string of company announcements pushed out to the same list of journalists is not only unimaginative – it’s not going to get you results.
Think creatively about how to reach your audiences. Yes, news stories are great, but there are other ways to share information with the public, and in ways that will leverage your thought leadership platform. Don’t just think op-eds in traditional media outlets – try becoming a regular blogger or contributor on online platforms and publications. There are so many different formats and channels to consume media in the digital age and we need to take advantage of the opportunities this affords.
- Plan, plan, and plan some more
Planning is essential to the execution of successful media relations. Look for ways to align your client’s communications calendar to global or national events, but don’t be afraid to challenge them by thinking of ways to news-jack and elevate your client’s message.
Importantly, be realistic about what you want to achieve, as well as how and when you can do it. Setting clear objectives, signposting milestones and continually evaluating your progress will ensure your ambitions are aligned with pragmatism, allowing you to build a sustainable and successful media relations programme.