Media relations of old was a publicity tactic built solely upon relationships between PR practitioners and reporters. In its heyday, success meant well-written press releases and a surplus of media clips. But times have changed. Media relations is no longer just a marketing mechanism designed to gain awareness; it’s a brand strategy.

At Brunner we believe media relations is an anchor activation. A way to build 1:1 relationships. An approach to storytelling told in the vernacular of consumers to influence decision making. If done well, media relations can maximize cross-channel results and create a more cohesive, impactful brand story. So why don’t more brands prioritize it?

Common misconceptions

There are plenty of myths around media relations, how it’s defined and what it can achieve. But there are some misconceptions we hear more frequently than others that might impact whether a brand engages in media relations. Read on.

  1. It’s free, right? Not quite. While running the final story won’t cost a fee (like a traditional or digital ad), the time, expertise, outreach and deep media relationships will. Invest in the right partner who knows how to build longstanding connections with a variety of reporters.
  2. Do you have a rolodex of media contacts? Back when newsrooms were more robust and reporters stayed on the same beat for years, as PR pros changed companies, their media contacts went with them. That’s no longer true. Don’t focus on the rolodex; focus on the approach.
  3. Reporters do all the writing for an article. More often than not, what reporters create is complemented by what a PR pro provided to them. And that’s a good thing. We’re expert storytellers knowledgeable about our brands and the messages necessary to create a full story. If we’re pitching, we’ve researched why our message is relevant to them and their audience.
  4. This is “off the record”. No such thing. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, via email or on social media, don’t say, tweet or infer something if you don’t want it printed, reposted and shared with the universe.
  5. We can edit whatever we need to before the story prints. Sorry, no can do. Since media coverage is earned – not paid – what you say, and what the reporter hears, goes. While an editorial staff will always do their best to articulate stories fairly and honestly, that doesn’t mean you’ll always like what you read. Don’t bank on a preview before publication.
  6. It’s all just a bunch of spin, anyway. Media relations is about translation, not spin. Translating the technical into the understandable, the intimidating into the palatable and the irrelevant to the relevant. What media relations doesn’t do is turn something bad into something good or something unethical into something honest. It’s a nuanced skill. It unearths the stories that matter and connects them to the readers that need to hear it most.

Assessing media relations for your brand

Determining if media relations is right for your brand can be done by considering three key questions:

  1. Are you trying to build brand equity?
  2. Do you have a specific message you need to communicate?
  3. Do you need to better connect with external stakeholders and decision-makers?

If you’ve said yes to any one of the above (or, perhaps, even all three) media relations should be part of your marketing mix. It drives credibility, consideration and ultimately, preference for your brand. And who doesn’t want that?