Media outreach has long been the “secret sauce” of public relations – yet also its bugaboo. There are some PR practitioners who have specialized in media relations, becoming placement rock stars. Others have shied away from media outreach because of the fear of rejection or distaste over having emails and phone calls ignored.

Media relations is a simple, if not easy, practice. It is all about relationships, and is therefore an art rather than a science. Like all relationships, media relations is time intensive and requires a lot of thoughtfulness. Done right, though, earned media results for clients are tremendous.  Even in today’s digital age, there is little that can lift a business like a positive placement in a respected, established media outlet like The Wall Street Journal or USA Today.

So what’s the secret to good media relations? It’s about developing relationships, creating organic conversations and most of all knowing what reporters want and how best to get it to them.

There are many ways PR pros can go about finding out what a specific reporter craves. Research through established media relations tools like Cision is a start – as is an in-depth investigation of the reporter’s past coverage and interests (made so much easier thanks to the advent of social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook).

But it’s possible to go deeper – and to know more – and our team at FH does exactly that. One of our favorite media relations tactics is the good old fashioned editorial audit: a query sent to reporters to ask them exactly what they want and how they want it. It’s so simple, it’s crazy to think that it works – but it does!

We had terrific results with a media audit earlier this year on behalf of a tourism client. We polled over 400 travel writers and bloggers, asking them to answer four questions in exchange for entry into a drawing to receive a gift card or donation to the charity of their choice. Our response was unprecedented – approximately 50 percent opened the email and we received 30 solid, thoughtful responses that informed our work and provided great value to the client.

Bottom line: if you want to know what reporters and bloggers think or want, just ask them! If you’re smart and creative in your approach, you’re sure to learn what you need to.

Have you had success in media relations, and do you have any tips to share? If you need assistance with media outreach, give us a call – we’d love to help!

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