The importance of strong media relations

Strong media relations is a claim every PR agency should make. Fundamentally it remains the core skillset.

But how do you build trust in your agency to deliver on these promises and truly strengthen your brand’s image, achieving impactful coverage where it matters?

Whilst there are tips and tricks to getting good results when pitching to the media, your focus should be on reviewing the agency’s experience, structure, set-up and processes that lead to success. Equally as important, is your company’s commitment and buy-in to work in partnership with your agency in a collaborative approach.

With aspirations to elevate your brand’s message to national and top-tier business media, this is especially important, with both agency and client needing to be proactive, timely, concise, opinionated, well-researched, and prepared.

Of course, national and business media isn’t the holy grail for all companies – you might find much more value in building presence in key industry titles or niche sectors – but it ticks a lot of boxes whether your objectives are reaching senior prospect decision makers, attracting investors or boosting employee morale.

Whiteoaks will always strive to elevate your company’s message to these audiences and this proactive approach leads to in excess of a hundred pieces of national coverage achieved for our clients each year, across national print and online media, TV and radio.

Our Approach

Whiteoaks’ account teams are structured for media campaign success. We’ve shelved the old way of doing things – a team of generalists, working in a matrix and structured as a hierarchy, where people duck in and out based on the business need. The main issue you will face as a client is the consistency and quality of output, particularly around copywriting, but also strength in media relations.

To counter this, we offer a dedicated team based on specialists – with eagle eyed writers (ex-journalists on the whole), influencer relations specialists (media sellers in old money), dedicated client managers (think Mad Men’s Pete Campbell if you will) and strategic account leads (Don Draper, to continue to the Mad Men theme).

Our team will work with you from day one to prioritise your target media, devise creative ways to hit the headlines, and importantly provide the strategy, structure and process to achieve results.

Keys to Success

  1.  Build relationships Putting the time and effort in to build relationships with media contacts can unlock opportunities that would previously have been off limits. Informal meetings for your spokespeople with key influencers to catch a casual drink or bite to eat at a convenient location to the journalist can provide the perfect setting to start building their trust and getting them interested. This sounds an old-school approach but don’t underestimate relationships! Once your name is in the little black book of contacts for a reporter, you might be the first person they call for a given topic.
  2. Rapid responses The pace of national and top-tier business media has never been quicker as journalists compete for online prominence. Be ready to respond to a story within the hour, or your chance to put your brand at the forefront might be missed – remember you’ll be competing against other firms offering insight. Is your company set-up to work in this timely fashion.
  3. Be prepared Whilst you can’t be expected to predict the news before it happens, you can categorise potential news stories based on previous trends – whether it’s upcoming regulatory announcements, independent market findings (e.g. quarterly retail sales results by British Retail Consortium), relevant major incidents related to your company’s expertise (e.g. if you’re a cyber security vendor and a company gets hacked), seasonal trends or scheduled calendar events. Whiteoaks will work with your spokespeople to develop ‘canned commentary’ responses which can be adapted quickly and be ready to send quickly.
  4. Be opinionated Competition for editorial space is fierce. So be prepared to be opinionated. This doesn’t mean you’re not measured and fact-driven, but brands and agencies that empower spokespeople to add colour to a story, drive debate and pose questions can make for harder-hitting contributions.
  5. Self-generate headlines – In the absence of hard-hitting news that will guarantee your place on the front pages of the newspapers (unless you’re Apple or Google), think strategically to catapult your brand onto the news-agendas for journalists by self-generating headlines. Conducting your own industry research with an independent polling firm can be a cost-effective way to gain your own market intelligence that underpins your commentary. The vast majority of national media stories are based on stat-driven news.
  6. Have your superman suit ready to go – It can be make or break for broadcast media if your spokesperson is ready to drop everything, take a phone call or get to a studio. But don’t forget to keep a sharp outfit to hand!

Tom Webb, Associate Director