Week 12 Strategies for Optimising Traditional Media Relations

Some weeks ago, I participated in a debate whose topic was “should media relations be the focus of most PR campaigns”… I had earlier argued that while media relations has come to characterise contemporary PR efforts, this proposition is only sound if we think of PR strictly in terms of PR practitioners, i.e. people whose jobs revolved solely around the effort of PR. Amongst PR practitioners, I have no doubt that media relations is the most time consuming of efforts, and very much possibly the one avenue with the most tangible returns. I have argued mearlier about the various problems that media relations inherently runs into, and am highly sceptical of any PR effort that consists of only media relations.

As the debate went on, I argued that PR as a concept cannot be merely limited to persons whose self image or job description is one of a public relations practitioner of an organisation, or someone working for a PR firm. For one thing, a huge number of activities which might be considered PR are not done by such persons. This creates a scenario where the production of capital goods, and the associated branding and reputation involved, something crucial in barely-on-time industrial production, are not seen to be in want of PR activities. This could not be further from the truth: simply because the carrying of brand and reputation is done by word of mouth, established by a good track record and proven quality, rather than PR practitioners, does not mean that such activities are not considered PR activities. Especially in small firms producing specialised and/or capital goods, human resources do not afford for the hiring of PR practitioners.

Furthermore, the business model of such firms is one where no public knowledge of the brand is necessary, their only publics are their direct supplier and client. Sometimes there might only be a single client with no supplier. For example, take GM Nameplate, a maker of graphics for Boeing (most the cards which you find in the seat pockets in the planes), one of Boeings best suppliers. Its PR activities are the sum of its correspondence with Boeing. In such cases, which is nearly every manufacturer of parts/preresquisites of complex goods like vehicles, electronics, machinery, derivatives of natural resources, equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, anything related to commodities,  etc, PR does not involve any media relations.

We should not confuse the most visible form of PR with the focus of PR.

Linking all of this back to the campaign for Feiyue is the fact that it needs some kind of media coverage. In the area of fashion, fashion that is not seen by anyone might as well be the proverbial tree in the forest that falls unseen. It is therefore inevitable that some kind of media coverage be established. Rather than try to break into media outlets which have high readership/viewership/listernership numbers, I propose a strategy which targets niche or semi-niche publications with an interest in fashion, and by extension Feiyue. These include the lifestyle sections of major newspapers, the fashion magazines, the blogs and social networks. This is more likely to succeed at informational transmittance with minimal entropy. Simultaneously, such media outlets are less likely to alter the message that Feiyue wishes to disseminate, or introduce noise therein.

I note, of course that the reading by Chia and Synnott on the topic of media relations expands far further into the intricacies of the individual tactics involved in conducting media relations. I do no have the necessary expertise to dispute their claims, but agree with most of their points. As someone who considers himself as a media outlet, I found the tactics to media relations quite well spelt out and defined. If nothing else, Chia and Synnott’s guide can serve as a basic crash course on how to treat the media. They highlight the following points as essential keys to successful media relations:

  1. Under-promise and over-deliver(manage expectations)
  2. Build relationships with media outlets
  3. Get to know journalists
  4. Have up-to-date databases
  5. Know how news outlets are organised
  6. Develop a media strategy( detailed down to individual tactics)
  7. Know what is news and what is not
  8. Meet deadlines(I fail at this a lot)

Therefore, in conclusion, I hope to integrate this into Feiyue’s PR campaign.

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