Betty J. Jackson - Director of Public Relations
Media relations can simply be described as a two-way street. The northbound lane is dedicated to proactive media campaigns initiated by local SHRM chapters or affiliates to communicate news and cultivate positive media relationships. The southbound lane is reserved for reactive media situations in which you are responding to a reporter’s request for information and interview requests or to negative news coverage.
To obtain proactive coverage, you initiate contact with the media. However, in cases of reactive media relations, reporters, news and magazine editors, columnists, news producers, anchors, and bloggers will contact you. It is important to recognize that bloggers may include credentialed and non-credentialed writers who may indeed be journalists or former journalists or they may hold no media credential at all. Bloggers should not be discounted as a powerful source of social media. Local chapters and affiliates should nurture these emerging new media relationship as they may prove to be invaluable when you must respond to relationship issues.
The key to developing proactive media relations is relationship building. The first step is to do your homework on the media outlets in your region before you approach reporters, producers and journalists. Determine the types of stories the publication or media outlet tends to cover. Consider whether they cater to a general audience or a more targeted audience. Armed with a good understanding of the media outlets in your region you are now ready to plant the seeds of positive relationships while there are no negative issues to which you must react. At this point, getting to know the key reporters and producers in your region is as simple as giving them a call to introduce yourself, inviting them to coffee or inviting them to chapter events.
Develop pitch angles, articles, opinion editorials and letters to the editor. Schedule interviews for key spokespeople and follow up with the reporter after the article is submitted. Your chapter spokesperson should develop a few clear, concise key messages that are supported with facts, figures or third-party endorsements. If tough questions arise, simply stay on message with quotable, positive statements and ensure that your quote captures the message you intend to deliver. The message is branded by saying the chapter and/or the state council name.
Remember to visit the SHRM website (www.shrm.org) for a host of media relations materials including survey research, white papers, legislative and policy updates.
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