Public relations is a little more complicated than most business owners think. It is not just about pushing your “news” out there and letting PR universe rulers, aka members of the media write a story. Public relations is the long game in your marketing program.
The foundation of public relations is in relationships, hence the word relations. You could almost compare developing a public relations program to dating and marriage.
The First Date
In the beginning, you are just trying to get them to pay attention to you and to respond to your emails and calls. That first interview is kind of like a first date. Small talk is not bad in an interview. Members of the media are humans, too, and they have a life outside of their jobs. Just like when you start dating someone, you need to get to know them. Ask questions!
Do you share any common interests or hobbies? What local restaurants or breweries have they recently checked out? What did they think about that festival they just attended? Where did they go to college? Show them that you are interested in them, and they will reciprocate that interest. It’s about adding depth and value to your relationship.
Disagreements Are Not Endings
Just like all other relationships, you may not always be on the same page, but that does not mean you should kill the relationship. As the business owner, you are focused on how your business is perceived. Sometimes the journalist you are working with will have a negative interaction with your brand. When this becomes the situation stay positive. Communicate and find a way to address the situation and grow from it. Name calling and blame is never a good idea. The only time to call out a member of the media is when they have incorrect facts.
This is not about proving someone else wrong, this is about providing correct information to your audience. In this situation, do not forget to respect this person. Respect goes a long way in relationships. Earn their respect and allow them to earn yours.
Fostering the Relationship
It may seem like another business is being featured and growing overnight, but that is rarely the case. The reality is that business worked hard and hustled and now that is paying off, and they now have a story to share.
In order to continue to have stories to share, you need to put in the work. Relationships do not just sustain on their own. Your job as a brand is to be the source and provide the story. It is the media that help share that story. Give and take — this will result in everyone getting something that they want and need.
Timing is Everything
And sometimes it is all about timing. Have you ever met someone you think could be your soulmate but the timing is off? It happens, and it happens with journalists all the time. They might have other assignments that your story does not fit into, but that does not mean it is a lost cause. Maybe in a month, six months or a year from now they will reach out and it will be a perfect fit.
Building relationships is not easy, but if both parties invest the time and energy, together you can share an amazing story.