Media Relations Management: The media loves to be part of an interesting story -- especially if they're invited. That's exactly what public relations professional Barbara Morrison did, and landed her client a front page story in The Virginian-Pilot.
Morrison, a public relations professional for the city of Virginia Beach, is a liaison for the Virginia Beach Police Department, and an expert in media relations management. As part of the department's training, lieutenants and new captains attend two-day leadership seminars in Gettysburg where the historic battlefield is used to spark discussions about leadership techniques and dilemmas.
Morrison knew the program was a great public relations opportunity and arranged for a reporter to join a trip. The reporter accepted and drove with the group to Gettysburg, allowing him to do interviews along the way and become part of the story. That earned a positive, image-boosting story for the Virginia Beach police.
Reporter participation should be a tactic in your media relations management. However, do your homework before inviting a reporter to spend this much time with your people and operation.
PR tips include:
- Pick the right time and the right event. Don't make the call just because you can.
- Seek out a reporter who has a personal interest in the topic you want to promote. It makes for a better story, and helps to build a working relationship for future articles.
- A well written story comes from the heart. What better way to get your story told, then to let the writer experience the adventure first hand.
- Prepare a background sheet for the reporter. The more information you provide, the more time he or she has to devote to the story.
- Conduct media training with each person likely to be interviewed for the story. Even non-players should be trained, since reporters who feel they're being lead will seek out "the real story."
- Take care of your reporter. You would expect the same if you were the invitee. Reporters are people too.
- Think of the story in terms of a series or a continuum. If the reporter can get more than one story out of the visit, it's a better time investment for him/her. What other elements of the program can you include?
- What leader back home needs to be in the story? Ensure the reporter has access to the boss.
- Provide employees a list of PR tips so they understand what you're trying to accomplish and how they fit in.
Does your company have any training methods, volunteer work, family events, team building activities, etc., that are unique and worth a reporter's time?