What do journalists want from public relations?

This question is one we will address in the next teaching session for the CIPR Advanced Certificate course – but as Stuart Bruce posts,  magazine’s Tamar Wilner has already answered this.

You can follow the links to the advice, but the main point is as for any piece of communication – know your audience

This highlights the importance of a targeted approach rather than mass e-mailing as many media contacts as your database can throw up.  Having an objective beyond simply coverage is useful here as you can identify the publications most appropriate to reach those you are aiming to inform, influence or motivate into action.

However, the media aren’t in existence simply to write what you want – so good public relations practitioners understand they need to offer something relevant to the readers. 

Unless you are a mega-organisation, your every utterance is unlikely to be big news (although you can be a big fish in a small, specialist or localised pond with targeting).  So understand the style of the publication – how is it positioned?  Who is its audience – check out the information it produces for advertisers in this respect. 

If you’ve not be in contact before – make your first impression good.  Write a simple email, that is 100% accurate in grammar and spelling.  Use clear language that identifies the essence of your story in the first sentence/paragraph which should be no more than 30 words.  Keep it short, but be factual, informative, interesting and humble. 

What do journalists want from public relations?  I’d say, professional working relationships that are beneficial to you both, rather than a “one-night stand” where one or both of you ends up feeling used and abused.  

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

4 thoughts on “What do journalists want from public relations?”

  1. Even getting the name of the editor you want to speak to and reading some of the work already published by their department to demonstate why you think your piece is relevant.

  2. Picking up on the humble approach, I have found that if you get through to the wrong department on a newspaper and try to make amends by asking how to avoid such mis-haps in future tells a journalist that you’re aware you’ve made a mistake but would rather not do it again – quite conducive to building relationships I find.

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