Those of us in media relations roles are regularly reminded of the significance of better understanding journalists. We need to do our homework – research what they write about, learn their interests, pinpoint their niche. It’s important for us to engage with them, follow them on social media, build relationships. It’s essential that we understand the newsroom and its cycles – deadlines, shifts, meetings.
Every bit of this is true (and highly recommended!), but do journalists ever hear about ways they could better work with PR people?
As someone who has been through a lot of PR classes and now teaches media relations to upcoming PR pros, I can assure you, we get our fair share of media panels, reporter guest speakers, lessons on working with media, etc. This is all essential stuff, and really comes in handy when you step into the PR workforce and put these skills to good use, but media relations is a two-way street, right? It boils down to relationships, so shouldn’t journalists also hear about ways to better understand us?
So, for all of my media friends out there (and yes, we can be friends AND work together!), here are a few insights to your favorite PR peeps, and to my media relations peers working in the trenches, can I get an amen?
We have a crazy job to do, too.
We totally get it…your role as a member of the media is to dig up the truth and tell the real stories. You serve society by being a watchdog and bringing information to light. It’s important work, but it’s accompanied by a wild schedule, demanding deadlines, insufficient pay and a constant struggle for work-life balance. Well, we are kind of in the same boat! Public relations work – especially media relations and crisis communications – is HECTIC! But journalists and PR folks alike, love what we do and thrive in the chaos. You’ve got to be a little crazy to do either of our jobs, right?
Sometimes, we really want to do more – but we just can’t.
Please understand, most of us really want to be helpful and serve as a valuable resource, but we don’t always have control over what kind of access we can and can’t provide. Sometimes, our hands are simply tied. Legal considerations, privacy issues, budget constraints, client requests, pressing deadlines, you name it…we usually have many barriers we have to work through to make stories happen. Rest assured that we will put in our due diligence and try to work it out when we can, but please try not to hold it against us when we do our best but just can’t make it work.
We need EACH other!
As I said before, this is a two-way street. Our relationship is reciprocal, and you need us, too! The right PR connection can be a rich resource for you and can sometimes help you in a pinch, like when that deadline is steadily approaching and your editor is breathing down your neck to turn something around quickly. But remember, when we make things happen for you, please return the favor, and advocate for that pitch we send or call us on a slow news day to see if we’ve got a story on deck. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.
Even in today’s busy, tech-savvy world, this is still a relationship business, so let’s all do our parts to make it mutually beneficial. I’ll learn you, you learn me, and it’s a win-win!