Proactively telling your organization’s stories to news media can be one of the most impactful tools for framing your brand. The practice of media relations – if done well – enables a company to build a reputation based on the stories that make them different, connect with the reporters who lead conversations within a community or industry, and position themselves as an expert within stories related to their area of business.
Given the ever-changing business and media landscape, Tunheim is working hard to be thoughtful about how we approach media relations on behalf of our clients. Here are a few things we are thinking about:
- “The Media”: “The Media” gets lumped together. As with any group, a select few can ruin the reputation of the greater membership, but in our firm’s 30 years in the business, we’re here to tell you that reporters with an evil agenda are few and far between. “The Media,” like most of us, are simply professionals who go to work each day thinking about:
- Getting their work assignments done, often with a growing to-do list and fewer resources to get it done;
- Diminished job security in an environment where deep cuts are being made in response to an advertising nosedive;
- Being one of the best in the business, which can now include not only filing several news stories a day but also providing a constant (24/7) stream of digital updates and commentary;
- Managing their significant challenges at home, now including helping a child with school at home, health concerns for a dependent, personal issues of wellbeing, and a myriad of other uncertainty;
- How they have chosen to be a reporter because it’s their passion; with the vast majority dedicated to informing the public and telling accurate stories. Popular conversation speculates that “the media” just write whatever they want, when most took the job for the exact opposite reason. The Media are stretched and stressed, just like the rest of us.
- Relationships rule: With many newsrooms trimming budgets, cutting staff, increasing coverage and rethinking their niche – building relationships with reporters continues to be one of the most important differentiators in a media relations approach. At Tunheim, we work towards:
- Authentic relationships with reporters – so they recognize our name when they look at their list of 300 new emails;
- Reading everything – so that we are doing our best to pitch relevant stories to reporters who cover a related beat, and we’re familiar with the types of information each reporter would find valuable;
- Newsworthy story angles – helping our clients not only share their news, but also pitch compelling angles so that reporters quickly see why the news matters;
- Being responsive – recognizing that reporters can be short on time and long on needs, we are accessible with high-touch attention to the details.
- Diverse story angles and offerings: Diversity and inclusion are taking new priority in all areas of business, including the way many media outlets approach their news coverage. When thinking through your pitch approach, consider how you can amplify the voices of people of color within your organization, and bring a diversity of thought and background to interviews with the media.
- Ready resources: Newsroom timelines have always been tight. Now they’re tighter! When pitching media, proactively offer a variety of resources that can help to make their storytelling easier, such as:
- Be specific about when would be the best timing for telling this story – include as much flexibility as possible, while also calling out the best timing for a specific news hoo
- Who are you offering for interviews? Be sure spokespeople have been media trained and are confident in delivering your most important messaging. Are Zoom or Skype interviews an option? If so, offer that up!
- Offer your stock visual assets (photos, b-roll video, infographics) to support your story – new limits for social distancing have impacted how crews are able to cover stories…make it easier for a reporter to say “yes” by making yours an easy story to cover.
- Alternative story telling: In times when newsrooms are stretched too thin to tell your story in a way that works for your business, consider alternate options for getting the job done.
- MAT releases are enjoying a sparkling resurgence due to their evergreen and easy plug-and-play benefits – for both businesses and media outlets;
- Sponsored content and bylined articles offer many of the same benefits of a news story, while also offering the ability to be targeted to specific audiences;
- Snackable content – knowing that many reporters need to deliver constant news updates through their digital channels, consider breaking your one big story into smaller, “snackable” pieces that can be shared easily via social channels – bonus points if you can offer graphics to support the content!
At Tunheim, media relations is one of our team’s biggest passions. If you’re considering a new approach for telling your company’s story to media, sign up for one of our free 20-minute consultations to talk about what you have in mind and how we can assist.
Director of Media Lou Ann Olson providing virtual media training to a client.