How-To-Do-It Tip: Cultivating the Media like a Public Relations Pro Wednesday, Feb 22 2012
You know that having good relationships with the media will benefit your archives or other cultural institution, and perhaps you have even included them in a plan to enhance your the marketing and public relations efforts. After all, media can not only help you spread the word about your programming or achievements, but at times they can also provide bad press. Developing a good relationship with the media is key to helping you weather such storms.
Today’s How-To-Do-It Tip comes from Public Relations and Marketing for Archives: A How-To-Do-It Manual edited by Russell D. James and Peter J. Wosh. The suggestions below can help you foster a strong relationship with the media on behalf of your institution.
Cultivation of the Media
All media outlets report the news, but their methodologies vary. This will have an impact on the ways in which you interact with various news venues. In forging relationships, it is important to think like a public relations professional as well as an archivist and to adopt the primary goals of a public relations professional.
Developing Mutually Beneficial Relationships with the Media
When developing positive relationships, you must combine professional integrity with basic courtesies. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way in fostering mutual respect. Use the following basic principles for effective public relations:
• Use honest communication to maintain credibility.
• Network with media personnel.
• Meet the publishers, editors, and journalists whenever possible.
• Hand out brochures and pamphlets related to the archives.
• If a person is new to the area, give him or her additional information about the community—a little kindness can go a long way!
• Attend events at which the media will be present, such as ribbon cuttings, government meetings, and cultural events.
• Always ask the media for a deadline; if you cannot meet the deadline, explain your reasons and see if an extension is possible.
• Send public service announcements to all local television, radio, and newspaper outlets.
• Think of events as party invitations—they are appreciated even if possible attendees need to decline.
• Overlooking individual outlets can create ill-will.
• Always maintain an open, consistent, and impartial relationship with the media; be sure that all media outlets receive the same press releases and notices of a newsworthy story.
• Fairness of actions will result in reciprocity and goodwill.
• When multiple media representatives are present, be sure to speak to each of them.
• To create personal relationships, contact individuals rather than departments.
• Maintain two-way communication to build relationships.
• Do not wait until you need the media to contact them.
• Formally thank the media for their coverage of an event or publication of a story or photograph.
• Conduct environmental research and evaluation to determine actions or adjustments needed to maintain good working relationships.
• Understand community issues that will benefit and potentially damage the promotion of the archives.
• Maintain professional relationships with the media without showing favoritism.
• When calling a journalist, find out at the beginning of the conversation if he or she needs you to call back or can speak at that moment.
• This is a professional courtesy that makes an impression and lets the reporter know that you understand the constraints placed on him or her.
• After talking with the reporter, have materials ready to send to demonstrate that your public relations department is serious and well organized.
- Excerpted from Public Relations and Marketing for Archivists: A How-To-Do-It Manual, pp. 74-75. © 2011 by Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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