What is Media Relations

Building media relations is critical in public relations. Here, we provide a media relations definition and explain what the term means, paying close attention to the main topics surrounding it. We will explore all the essentials you need to know, why it’s important, and how to build a media relations strategy.

published: August 1, 2023
updated: April 21, 2024

What is media relations? Definition and explanation

So, what is media relations exactly? A simple definition would be building and maintaining relationships with media networks for mutually beneficial business relationships.

The always helpful Wikipedia gives us this definition:

Media relations involves working with media to inform the public of an organization's mission, policies, and practices in a positive, consistent, and credible manner. It can also entail developing symbiotic relationships with media outlets, journalists, bloggers, and influencers to garner publicity for an organization.”

As a large part of public relations is working with the media to get publicity for clients, learning how to forge great relations with gatekeepers in the media is critical and should be the number one goal for any company looking to use the media to share their message. Over time, you can develop this relationship for journalists and yourself - hence the mutual benefit.

What are the differences between media relations and PR?

Here is one definition of PR:

Public relations is the strategic communications process that sets out to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between two or more parties.

The lines can blur for those unfamiliar, making it difficult to tell the difference. The key lies in their function, who is involved, and the measure of success for each. There are many components to PR. Media relations is just one aspect of public relations - albeit a rather important one. Others include strategic communications, community relations, crisis communications, and social media communication, to name but a few. Media relations are one way to gain publicity and further the organization’s aims.

Media relations refers to your relationships with specific journalists, editors, outlets, etc. Public relations, however, is the relationship (or attempted relationship) between a company and various publics. Public relations is there to develop the story. Media relations is a vessel to communicate it.

Success in media relations is the number of placements, features, or articles written about your brand. In PR, there are many more measures. These could include changes in public opinion, engagement levels, or product sales.

Learn more about public relations

Why are media relations important?

Media relations are key if you’re looking to generate brand awareness. This is because of the potential to reach a large audience with your message. Media could include online or print magazines, newspapers, podcasts, radio, and television. Appearing on one of these mediums can give you the credibility you need to start garnering attention and interest for what you do or to maintain or increase it.

Media relations are important for your future endeavors too. You can leverage these relationships for future promotion and publicity by building on these relationships.

Media relations are also beneficial in times of crisis. Good relationships with those in media positions can mean the outflow of timely and accurate information to the public, reducing potential damage.

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What is a media relations strategy, and how do you build it?

A media relations strategy refers to the approach and tactics that you use to engage with the media to build mutually beneficial relationships. Creating a media relations strategy is essential for any organization relying on the media to share its message.

Here are some suggestions on how to build this relationship:


Define your audience

Any carefully thought out media relations strategy must begin with the question, ‘Who is my target audience? You need to identify your target audience and the outlets they follow so you can tailor your messaging accordingly. Your audience defines where you go, so it’s crucial to know this. As an example, there is little point targeting the older generations on tik tok, for example. You need to find outlets that have optimal positioning. This means the ones with the right audience and the largest possible reach.


Work out how to reach your audience

Now that your target audience is nailed down plan how to reach them. Find out what makes them tick and the type of content they are more likely to respond to. Know where your audience goes. If your product is digital, looking at digital means to reach them would be smart. So think about online forums, social media, or vlogs.

Make sure your online content is search engine-friendly (SEO). Make your media materials visually appealing by incorporating images, infographics, and videos. On social media, visual content is more likely to capture people’s attention.


Decide on your media engagement tactics

One useful tactic could be to write guest articles for targeted publications. Guest blogging for targeted news media publications means you can benefit from their audience. Additionally, you get access to their search engine authority. You can rank for valuable search terms in your guest article using the right keywords, giving you visibility and traffic. It'll expand your audience and reach and boost your reputation. You can also build valuable and productive relationships over time. Engage with local media outlets. These are often eager for interesting news, and it can be easier to get coverage here than the larger outlets.


Design a strategy

You need to work out your overall messaging style and strategy. Think about tailoring your strategy accordingly. Decide on your messaging. How regularly will you do this? Work out how often you should communicate with your target audience. Different purposes will mean different approaches. For example, launching a new product will have a different approach than general outreach to maintain existing customer relationships.


Create engaging material

Media professionals appreciate high-quality material that aligns with their audience’s interests. By doing this, you can compellingly tell your story and make it more memorable and relevant to yours and their audience. A successful story can lead to future coverage collaborations.


Forge productive relationships

Only feed outlets with relevant and newsworthy content. Journalists need stories, and companies need publicity. It's a perfect match. If you fulfill your end of the bargain by providing this, you will be top of their list as a contact. You’ll enjoy the added benefit of building up credibility in the eyes of their readers, which is what you want. This can mean a big boost to your reputation.

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Be proactive

Give publications parts to your story. Also, use Twitter to find out trending topics in certain areas. Find out relevant keywords too. This can boost your online presence and give you a greater chance of being part of the wider conversation and getting media exposure. Doing so in niche areas will further increase your chances of this. It's important to remember that long-term success requires proactive outreach.


Offer to assist

Make yourself available for any questions or queries they have. Provide them with a press kit, high-resolution images, and direct quotes they can use. Give them a succinct summary highlighting the key aspects of the story. Tailor it to them and their audience. Lastly, share on your socials.


Analyze results

It is important to monitor your channels and strategy over time. The key to good media relations is to be strategic and responsive. Adapt your media relations approach based on the data you get, and for the best results, be ready to adjust tactics continuously.


Leverage your contacts

Build a list of those media contacts most useful to you. Send out mini-newsletters, press releases, and other interesting updates. But don’t overwhelm them with too much info.

You may even develop a relationship whereby you can name-drop or reference them - a great way to boost your credibility.

Media relations checklist

In today’s world, navigating media relations can be tricky. There are many elements to great media relations. To help you, we made a list of things you may need to consider.

1. News alerts

You can register to receive these. There are various outlets and subject areas to choose from. Find out what people are talking about and what made the news. It's important to stay informed to be relevant.

2. Keyword alerts

Setting up keyword alerts for specific industries and areas helps you keep your finger on the pulse. Check the prolificity of industry buzzwords and incorporate these into your communications.

3. Contacts list

Make a list of useful publications and the specific contact names you have. Important to remember is that people leave jobs or even change positions internally. So ensure this is up to date.

4. Editorial calendar

Create a calendar to carry out your carefully planned media strategy. This acts as your media relations' who, what, how, and when. This reduces the chance of anything being missed and any last-minute, unplanned additions that have not been properly thought out.

5. Press releases

A well-written and engaging press release goes a long way, despite what you may hear to the contrary, and is one of many elements that goes into a PR strategy. Always have a press kit too. Containing contact details, high-resolution images, facts, and other useful items to share.

6. Media pitches

It’s important to pitch media content that is attention-grabbing and easy to digest. It needs to be easily understood and relevant to audiences. The benefits of this are mentions and backlinks to your website. Keeping templates to use for differing ideas or story angles may be handy. Don’t forget to adjust them accordingly when you use.

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Hopefully, by now, you’ve understood what media relations is, the difference between media relations and public relations, and how the two interact with one another. Press relations are just one aspect of public relations, but a very important one.

With careful planning and well-thought tactics, you can build productive and long-lasting relationships with the media that benefit all parties, elevating your business above the competition. Need help with your media relations? Let’s talk about what we can do for you. Contact our team today to learn how we can assist you with your goals.

August 1, 2023
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