It’s been a long-debated topic in media relations: how much is a PR professional’s relationship worth in terms of getting stories placed for clients?
In reality, that’s the wrong question. While there is certainly some value in a solid working relationship between reporters and PR pros, at best that can get a client’s foot in the door. Where the real value lies is in the relationship between a reporter and the PR pro’s client, and that’s what PR pros should be focused on helping build.
Some quick facts about PR pros that often get confused or misrepresented when discussing media relations:
- We help clients tell their story in a way that attracts media interest
- We take close stock of what reporters cover and match them to the right clients
- We connect reporters with the client spokesperson who is most knowledgeable about the subject they cover
- We help clients who have a lot on their plate to manage the interview follow up process to ensure reporters get what they were promised
- We act as a sounding board for spokespeople to ensure they’re consistent with their messages
What we don’t do, at least at PReturn, is act as a gatekeeper or try to “own” the relationship with a reporter. If clients are comfortable with it, we encourage them to share their contact information with reporters for direct outreach; if they aren’t, we help direct reporters’ inquires to the right places for quick and thoughtful answers.
Sure, there are plenty of examples where reporters and PR pros have great working relationships, but reporters don’t reach out for our take on issues, they reach out to speak to our clients for their expert insights and analysis, and that’s an important distinction.
So when a client asks if we have a good relationship with reporters at X, Y or Z publication, we’re honest: we know the reporters there who cover your space, but what’s more important is that we help tell your story in a way they’ll care about. We can help YOU build and maintain that relationship.