By Drew Boehmker
PRSA Cincinnati’s 2016 Media Day was a day full of fun, informative, and engaging panels that offered Cincinnati public relations professionals the valuable opportunity to get face time with members of the media from across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. While each of the sessions offered throughout the day spotlighted a different aspect of the field—from crisis communication to social media and everything in between—all of them also emphasized five important traits that successful PR pros need in order to build successful relationships with the media they interact with each and every day.
- Be a storyteller.
Above all else, people who work in public relations are storytellers—especially when dealing with the media to tell the narratives of their clients and brands. Just as it is important to know your audience when you are telling a story, so too is it vital for us to know the journalists we are pitching prior to telling them our story; as stated by Michael Monks of The River City News during the “Digital Publications” panel, our primary responsibility as PR professionals is “to tell journalists why what we’re sending them matters.” Find your story, tell it well and to the right people, and you will have a much greater chance of achieving the successful media relations results you desire.
- Be beneficial.
Similarly, when telling these stories it is also crucial to remember that those on the other end are attempting to fulfill some need by receiving them, whether that need is to be informed, entertained, or perhaps a little of both. As emphasized by Tim Geraghty of Local 12 WKRC during the “TV Landscape” panel, people who engage with the stories you are telling first and foremost want to know “Why did I watch/read/listen to this today?” With that in mind, you should begin every pitch to a media contact by emphasizing these viewer/reader/listener benefits first and following them an exciting story their audiences will want to engage with.
- Be disruptive.
Although we as humans are inclined to gravitate toward stories, nobody likes hearing the same one multiple times. Indeed, a major takeaway from the keynote by digital marketing thought leader Aaron Perlut was the importance of creating “disruptive content”—fresh concepts that go way above and beyond the standard “person announces XYZ”-type news releases—that will energize and engage people who normally do not interact with your brand. In essence, there is no “just PR” anymore; you have to think bigger and surround your audiences with paid, owned, and earned media if you truly want to elevate your brand.
- Be a steward.
Of course, one of the best ways to go about surrounding your audiences is via social media. The “Social Media in the Weeds” panel highlighted how successful PR pros are often uniquely suited to act as stewards for their clients in the social media sphere because we often know our brands (and the stories they are telling) better than anyone else. In both social media and media relations, it is vital to keep this role in mind; whether we are working with journalists or interacting with followers on social, customer service is a key component of our job as brand stewards—and if we don’t think it is, we’re doing it wrong.
- Be human.
Have you ever had the misfortune of sitting through a particularly painful interview on radio or television? The panelists on the “Over the Waves — Radio & Broadcast” panel have, and they agreed that these “interview fails” are usually a result of mismatched expectations between the media and PR. As a professional in our industry, it is critical to be human and take the perspectives of the people you are pitching (as well as their prospective audience) in order to avoid these kinds of fails. Being human also extends to the emails you send every day. All of the participants on the radio panel echoed the sentiment that a personalized one-paragraph email demonstrating you know the show you are pitching can go a LOT further than a formal email consisting of several paragraphs that sound like they were written by a PR robot.
Ultimately, while there is no real secret for people to become successful PR pros, working hard to develop these traits is a great step toward securing the key media placements that you—and your clients—desire. Clearly, Team Scooter learned a great deal (and had a lot of fun!) at this year’s Media Day … and we’re already counting down the days until the next one!
About Scooter Media
Scooter Media is a full-service communications agency in greater Cincinnati specializing in public relations and social media. Read more do’s and don’ts for successful PR pros here.