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Public Relations And The Independent Press

Posted by Media Relations on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 - Comments »

I was recently approached by a postgraduate PR student at Leeds Metropolitan University, who is doing a thesis on media relations between PR pros and the Independent Press. Below is the interview that took place between us.

Do you think it is important for PR people to establish relationships with the independent press? If yes, why?

The relationships that PR people develop directly tie to the kinds of companies that they represent. I do PR for a lot of technology companies based in Minnesota so it is therefore important for me to have relationships with local and trade publications as well as the big conglomerate types. My clients want to reach as many prospects as possible so we are looking to get coverage in pubs that have a) high circulation and b) are comprised of the client’s target readership. As more conglomerates flood local markets and steal readership away from the independent publications, those conglomerate publications automatically become more of a focus for PR efforts because they have the readership. At the same time, it is important for PR people to develop relationships with all publications in the geo/industry they are targeting but the “quality” of the coverage is based on the client’s perception of which publication reaches the right audience and enough of them.

What do you think about the PR/independent press relationship? Do you think journalists working in the independent press are harder to approach due to their commitment to ‘DIY’ ethics?

I personally find the independent publications easier to approach because they are less well known. Everyone has heard of the New York Times or the Star Tribune newspapers, which means that they receive a lot of pitches from PR people and subsequently never answer their phones. As a side note, the most approachable publications are those that the longer deadlines. A journalist at a daily publication is always on deadline and does not have the time to respond to endless email and phone pitches from PR people. Trade publication journalists tend to be more laid back because they have more time to work with. At the end of the day, journalists appreciate story leads that are high quality and relevant to what they do, whether they work for the independent press or whether they are part of a larger conglomerate.

Media relations online – Do you see it as a positive or negative aspect of modern PR practice? Do you believe that the facelessness in Internet communication can become a problem, and if yes how can it be overcome?

I think that online media is changing the face of traditional PR but not necessarily in a bad way. Many industries have to adapt as technology and practices evolve; media relations is one of them. The independent publications that refuse to embrace the online revolution will struggle, I fear, as many people are now reading their news online, especially the younger generation. From a marketing standpoint, online PR is a great tactic that can really help disseminate a company’s message and reach more and more prospects.

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