Mastering Media Relations: 10 Key Principles for Successful Campaign In Poland
The first thing that often springs to mind of those outside this line of business upon hearing the term PR is media relations. Indeed, it is the most common element of PR in Poland. And interestingly enough – because of its 'obviousness' – it is often understated. However, the basis of our message having a chance to reach a broad audience through the press, online portals, television or radio lies in proper cooperation with journalists. How can this cooperation be turned into a truly effective tool for brand promotion in Poland?
In this article, we will share the golden rules that we, as a public relations agency, apply on a daily basis when communicating with journalists!
Who should involve in media relations?
Here, there are two solutions. It may be a separate department or a person within the company designated to communicate with the media. However, this option is not really suitable for larger corporations or if the brand operates in numerous markets. In such cases, working with an external and local PR agency is definitely a more cost-effective option.
Who is a PR manager and what are their tasks?
They are a kind of an intermediary who, with their communication skills, a broad take on the world, associating facts and combining information, is able to create a message that will connect a brand with its potential target group. Apart from a writing flow, the work of a public relations specialist requires the ability to establish proper communication with journalists and build a stable relationship with them.
Every PR manager develops their own media relations decalogue throughout their experience. If you are planning independent media relations activities within your organisation or if you are a PR beginner, find out about our rules of media cooperation!
Step 1: Individual and thought-through media base
Every brand representative wants information about their product to reach as many people as possible. This is a rather popular, but... wrong direction. Instead, it is better to consider who IN PARTICULAR might be interested in your message. Are they senior citizens, students, singles, young mothers, residents of large conurbations, people living in the countryside or consumers seeking premium products? Choosing your target audience is of enormous importance when creating your content and deciding on the media you will send it to.
You need to know one thing: there is nothing worse for a journalist than receiving a message on a subject they have no idea about. So if some info about products for kids reaches someone who has been writing about the construction industry for years, rest assured that you will end up on their PR blacklist. Your subsequent messages will immediately end up in the bin. Even if you do learn this valuable lesson with time.
Building a mature media base and researching a journalist’s interests is an absolute must for media relations. An Excel table seems to be the best option.
The following are well worth recording:
Name and surname of a particular journalist,
The sector of their operations,
The medium they represent,
How they work,
Information on whether they quote experts from numerous companies.
Such a media database will speed up every press release distribution. Remember, however, that creating it is a process that… never ends. The media market is a living body – journalists migrate between editorial offices and change sectors. You must be the first one to learn that!
Step 2: Message personalisation
Once the database is prepared, the second step is to send the press release information to selected journalists, usually via email.
What mistakes should you avoid?
A common mistake young PR professionals make is to enter addresses as BCC. As a result, one message is sent to many journalists at the same time. Sure, preparing such an email takes a few minutes, but the effect tends to be poor.
The message personalisation and the one-to-one email increase the chances of the message being read! The platforms Prowly and netPR come in handy with the automatization of sending out of press information.
Journalists, especially those working in the sectors covering the likes of modern technology, automotive, lifestyle and FMCG, receive around 30-40 pieces of press information daily from a range of companies. To catch their attention, ascertain the importance of your message and make your content stand out. An email that starts with the words Dear Sirs and Madams, please find enclosed press release information on…, is very likely to end up in spam. Over time, as you establish a stable relationship with a journalist, you can refer to previous conversations. But avoid being too pally.
Step 3: What does a journalist need?
Bear in mind that now time is the top currency. Editorial offices shrink, therefore, one journalist handles several topics within different sectors.
How can you use that?
Before you send out your message, look at it through the eyes of an editorial team member. Have you sent them everything that might be of interest to the target audience of their medium? Create comprehensive material to make the journalist’s job easier and increase the chances of your message being published. If possible, make the message more attractive by including, for instance, research results in the form of figures and graphs. The more concrete points, data and images, the better!
Try to send a variety of material: such as text but also audio or video. Include quoting company representatives and their bios, including high-quality product photos and infographics. In a nutshell, ensure a single email includes 100% of the knowledge about your product or service. And not a percentage more.
Also, remember not to use industry jargon. Unfortunately, this curse of expertise often happens to those working in specialist fields. When writing information for a press release and talking to journalists, use the universal language. This way, it will be understandable to anyone who is not a specialist in the subject matter. On the other hand, the journalist will not need to use a dictionary when preparing the press release. A win-win situation.
Step 4: Media monitoring
The next step is media monitoring. A variety of sites may be of service:
Sentione (in the instance of social media)
In a pre-configured panel, you will find a summary of the publications mentioning your product and excerpts of any information used.
What else can you do?
We encourage every PR novice to involve in individual talks with media representatives. If your message is published, call or write to the journalist to thank them. Take the opportunity to ask if they need additional material and offer your help writing future articles.
Remember that a journalist is also a human being, too. Sometimes sending press releases by e-mail simply fails. If this happens to you call the journalist 1-2 days after sending the message and ask if they have received the material. It might have ended up in spam, and you should resend it. Our advice: never ask if you can count on publication. The effect of such a question may provoke the journalist to end the call abruptly.
Take the opportunity to get the journalist interested in the topic and start building a relationship. Just remember to prepare for the call. Before you make the call, recall what sector they are in, what issues they have covered in recent publications and what events they have attended. It may turn out that the topic you are calling about is so broad that it is better to address it in a face-to-face interview. Do not be afraid to offer to meet the journalist over a cup of coffee. Even a half-hour meeting is more fruitful more than a phone call or an email exchange.
You do not do media relations from behind a desk. Media relations is about relationships with other people.
What to avoid when contacting journalists?
There are a few things that are absolutely forbidden in relations with media representatives. In order to understand them, it is important to become aware of the mission of a professional journalist: to inform the public in an unbiased and ethical way. How to behave when facing journalists?
Do not feed them semi-truths: Any attempt to hide the truth can turn to your disadvantage. When building media relations, remember the old saying – the worst truth is better than a lie. We should facilitate journalists’ search for objective data, especially at the time of fake news.
Do not be a salesperson. Do not try to be too pushy selling your commodity (in this case it is information). The journalist is aware of the purpose of meeting you and what reciprocity involves. Do not get angry or attack them when your expectations are not met. When negotiating, do not lecture and always refer to arguments ad rem (concerning the subject) and not ad personam (concerning the interlocutor).
Remember: patience. During an interview, a journalist may ask questions which to you as an expert in your field seem banal. Approach this with a lot of patience and remember that the journalist’s knowledge is not equal to yours. The journalist is not obliged to be familiar with your industry. The questions are to enable them to convey information to their readers or listeners in the simplest and most interesting way possible.
Avoid silence. What about uncomfortable questions? When giving interviews, it is a good idea to answer every question, even if you find it difficult. The absence of a commentary is… also a commentary. By refraining from answering, you may change the tone of the entire interview and make your company look bad.
Remember the three-hour principle. You are not obliged to remember all the details, but if you do not know the answer to a question, promise to send it after the meeting and do so the same day. There is an unwritten three-hour rule which applies to any material (such as comments by a company president) requested by the media. Providing the required information within three hours is proof that the journalist can count on you whenever they need help. Effectively, there is a good chance that you or your client will end up on the list of the most quoted experts in your industry sector.
Forget fancy gifts. Do not offer expensive gifts to the journalists at the end of the meeting. It may be perceived as a form of bribery, which mars the relationship immediately.
Mind information is provided between the lines. With time, you will observe the tightening of your relationship with media representatives and, during a conversation, you may feel like giving them information outside the official circuit, so-called ‘off the record’, hoping that the journalist will keep it to themselves. Do not forget the business nature of your relationship. The journalist meets with you in order to obtain information, above all any information that the medium they represent will publish first. If they deem a piece of informal news interesting, they may have no qualms about writing or reporting it.
How do we conduct media relations in Poland?
This is our 10 principles of good cooperation with the media in Poland:
1. YES to in-depth research on journalists' interests.
2. YES to complete press releases.
3. YES to testing results, reports, numbers, and details.
4. YES to expressing your views simply and clearly.
5. YES to infographics, mp3 recordings, videos, and comments.
6. YES to high-quality graphics and photos.
7. YES to one-to-one shipments.
8. YES to commenting within 3 hours.
9. YES to relational meetings.
10. YES to preparing for the interview.
... and 10 rules NOT to do in media relations:
1. NO to hiding the truth.
2. NO to attacking a journalist.
3. NO to using negative words.
4. NO to argumentum ad personam.
5. NO to instructing the journalist.
6. NO to saying, ‘no comment’.
7. NO to the questions: ‘can we count on publication?’.
8. NO to assuming the journalist is a specialist in your industry and knows your brand.
9. NO to bribing journalists.
10. NO to ‘off-the-record’ conversations with journalists.
The most crucial media relations step: analyse the effects
Just as in classic marketing operations, in public relations, it is difficult to assess our effectiveness without an analysis of the impact. Measuring the results of PR campaigns requires a combination of a range of methods. They depend on the communication activities undertaken.
If you have this opportunity, check the cognitive and behavioural (emotional) effects apart from image results and reach. Consider what emotions the messages evoked as well as the activities they encouraged.
Cooperation with the journalistic community constitutes just a component of a PR strategy. It should result in publications. How do you measure media relations activities in Poland?
The most popular tool is media analysis. It allows you to see your brand's image in the media. Once you have seen, read and listened to all media material, you should describe it in accordance with your criteria. Those may include:
frequency of publications on the brand,
material release time,
medium (type, title, coverage, specialisation, circulation, listening rating),
author of the text (name and surname, position, specialisation),
tone (positive, negative, neutral reaction).
Do not apply automatic solutions as they tend to be unable to specify the full context. Remember to verify:
Does the text feature an image of the product?
What surface of the press material was devoted to your company, and what percentage of the article did it cover?
Under what circumstances did information about your company occur?
Did the publication include a statement by a company representative (expert, CEO)?
Does the article feature the key brand messages you base your communication on?
Mind the AVE
Most media relations reports include an AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) measurement, which expresses the amount of money needed to publish or broadcast a message if it were an advertisement. This tool is based on the belief that if advertising space in a newspaper costs X, then any material published for free in this newspaper is also worth X.
However, advertising material is way less reliable. One thing is to buy an advertisement, where you are in control over its shape, and another to have an article prepared by a journalist about your company, which is based on your media relations.
In the second instance, you do not have full control over the piece's content, so you do not have 100% certainty whether it will be published. Therefore, the AVE factor cannot be used to evaluate the effectiveness of media relations activities.
These were the fundamental principles for successful cooperation with journalists in Poland, regardless of the sector of the market you operate in. If you wish to discover more tips on successful public relations, keep an eye on our blog!