Media Relations Advice from Reuters: PR 101 Still Key in the Digital Era

“The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”  – George Bernard Shaw

Communication is the heart of our job. As public relations professionals, we are responsible for communicating with and on behalf of our clients. However, are we certain that we’re always being heard? And even more importantly, are we being heard and interpreted in the right way?

Last week I attended the webinar, “How Reuters Journalists Use Social Media to Uncover Today’s Stories” featuring Reuters’ Social Media Editor, Anthony De Rosa and Reuters’ Wealth Editor, Lauren Young. Both Anthony and Lauren discussed how they actively use social media channels to monitor for breaking news, find sources and find out what their competition is up to, but it was also a helpful reminder to remember the PR 101 basics.

Following a brief synopsis on how they are individually using the tools, the webinar quickly turned to every journalist’s favorite topic: working with us PR folk. Their discussion on PR made one thing quite clear – even in the digital era of today, PR 101 still remains true in that building relationships with reporters should always be top of mind.

Rule #1 from Anthony and Lauren: never blast out a template pitch to reporters. Sure it sounds like a no-brainer, but Anthony and Lauren said this happens much more than one would guess. And when they can tell it’s a blast email, it heads straight in to the trash.

The reporters also emphasized that the digital era provides us with another set of portals to help us to build that ever important relationship between journalists and PR. Anthony said it best during the webinar when he described Twitter as a “virtual water cooler” and Facebook as “the virtual town square” where you can have a dialogue.

Anthony and Lauren provided a few quick and simple tips on how we can use social media to help build relationships:

  • We have the ability to interact with reporters at the “water cooler” and at “the town square,” so take advantage of it.
  • Social media is all about building communities – become a part of the communities of the journalists that your client values most by following the same people and joining the same online groups.
  • Know the reporters’ likes and dislikes.  Are they a huge San Francisco Giants fan? Obsessed with Game of Thrones? – use this information to stand out from the pack when you contact them
  • Don’t make it all about your client, but send them articles, stories and surveys that you think they would enjoy and appreciate.

In all reality, it is easier than ever to stay true to the basics and when you build a relationship you will become a trusted counterpart who journalists will want to hear from and who they will reach out to for information – client related and not. It’s a good reminder to take advantage of digital and social media footprints to get back to the basics and to build relationships with journalists. It is then that we’ll be most successful at what we set out to do every day – communicate.


Photo credit: Flickr user lapideo.

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