Media relations is integral to the PR strategy of any organization. Contrary to popular belief, there is far more involved than just simply distributing a news release. In order to be effective, media relations requires a lot of planning, a solid strategy and succinct storytelling. When done correctly, it is a cost-effective marketing tool that can help your law firm gain visibility, position it as a thought leader and generate new business leads.
Below are five key tips for an effective media relations strategy that will produce tangible results for your firm:
1. Develop Relationships with the Media
As the saying goes, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint”—and that same principal rings true when it comes to media relations. Taking the time to establish and cultivate long-term relationships with the media—journalists, editors, producers and the like—is a crucial element of securing meaningful media coverage for your firm.
Although the media are often viewed as a means to an end, it’s important to keep in mind they are regular people doing their jobs – just like all of us. Making an effort to get to know your media contacts on a more personal level can go a long way toward more effective media relations. Engage with them on social media. Arrange for a time to meet up in person for a coffee date, lunch or at a local event to introduce yourself. Find out the types of stories they cover, what they need from their sources and how you can help.
By building these strong connections with the media, you can help your firm get on their radar screen and ultimately become a go-to source in your area of expertise.
2. Find Your Story Angle
In order to secure media coverage, you must first know the story you want to tell. Sounds pretty simple, right? Not quite. You may have a topic you’d like to pitch, but unless you can find a newsworthy story angle, the media will be unlikely to cover it.
Identifying your story angle will require you to think like a journalist. Take time to figure out what exactly makes your story newsworthy. Is it timely? Is there a local angle? How is it relevant to their audience? Be sure to stay up-to-date on emerging trends or issues in your industry, and know how your firm can authentically add to those conversations.
3. Tailor Your Media Pitch
Although a “spray and pray” approach to media relations might seem valid, it is not an effective way to drive media coverage—and it certainly won’t build a good rapport with the media. Keep in mind that journalists are bombarded with hundreds of emails every day. You want to make sure your media pitch stands out in the crowd—and isn’t lost to the dreaded digital trash can.
Take the time to do a little homework on the individuals you’re pitching—their beats, recent stories and any other pertinent details—and then use this information to personalize your media pitch to each person. It’s best to keep your email short and sweet, with a clear call to action. Provide enough information to pique interest in your story angle, and then offer to follow up with more details.
4. Be Proactive
In this new era of journalism, the media are often a very busy, one-man band. Many conduct research, shoot their own video, take photos, report the story and even edit it—all on a tight deadline. With that in mind, a proactive approach that goes above and beyond the call of duty can go a long way when it comes to media relations.
Before you pitch a story angle, take the time to do some research. Gather supporting facts and/or statistics to back up your story. Anticipate any questions the media may ask, and have answers already prepared. In addition, there may be digital content you can provide to accompany your story, such as infographics, video, images or other visual aids.
Once you secure media interest, take that extra step to anticipate and provide whatever the journalist may need for the story. Oftentimes, this will include an author byline, high-resolution headshot and contact information. Make an effort to be responsive, organized and thorough in your communications.
5. Become an Invaluable Resource
Aside from taking a proactive approach, there are many other ways you can position your firm to become an invaluable, “go-to” resource in the eyes of the media. First and foremost, it’s important to establish a consistent presence by providing fresh and compelling story ideas on a regular basis. Take this opportunity to offer your subject-matter expertise on a particular industry, trend or topic.
In addition, remember to be respectful of each journalist’s time and deadlines. It’s important to follow up, but don’t hassle them with a million emails or phone calls. Make it a priority to supply any requested information in a prompt manner. By taking these steps, this will demonstrate that your firm is a credible, knowledgeable and trustworthy source—ultimately leading the media to seek you out as a resource for future stories.
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