Several believe that public relations and media relations are the similar terms and can be used interchangeably. However, this is incorrect. Media relations refer to the relationship between an organization and the journalists, while public relations extend that relationship beyond the media to the general public.
In PR, media relations is the work done in co-ordination with the media for the purpose of informing the people about an organization’s mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner. As a journalist or an editor in the media, is responsible for producing the news and features through different kinds of media vehicles, a PR person works in coordination with them to maximize positive coverage in media without paying for it directly like in advertising.
Media relations can help raise awareness about your company or its products & services among your target audience, increase understanding of what you offer, and create a positive profile of the organization through good news stories and ongoing achievements. It is very vital for any PR person to have good media relations and it is an effective part of any communications plan because editorial tends to be believed more than advertising and it also provides scope to expand on topics and provide more in-depth information to the public.
However, dealing with the media presents some unique challenges. The first and foremost challenge is that the news media cannot be controlled. It is the media or more often an editor of a media house who has ultimate control over whether stories pitched to them are of interest to their audiences and whether they can be published. One way to ensure a positive working relationship with media personnel is to become deeply familiar with their areas of interests and developing your story in alignment with their vision, editorial style sheet and more importantly one which would likely have a connect with their target market. Thus, public relations practitioners should read as many magazines, journals, newspapers, and blogs as possible, as they relate to one’s practice.
Working with the media on behalf of an organization allows for awareness of an organization or a company or an individual to be raised as well as the ability to create an impact with a target audience. However, one needs to remember that media communications is a competition. Newsrooms are flooded with press releases, so yours is one of many. Building relationships with journalists and being selective about where you want coverage to reach those you are trying to communicate with will go a long way towards getting your message heard.