How to build media relationships

In 2007, Bloomberg News posted an article by Aileen Pincus, titled How to Build Relationships with the Media. The article offered some tips on how business owners can become sources for stories that may help build their brands. Basically, what the international news agency was driving at was that “talking to reporters makes good business sense.”

As a journalist, who has had the pleasure of practising for almost 10 years, I can remphasise what virtually all business executives in the world already knew, promoting your business is a very smart idea. The glitch though is that many business executives, especially most of Nigeria’s young entrepreneurs, rarely know, let alone understand, the value of the news media.

Thanks to the advent of the new media, many business owners are either personally or, through the use of professionals, tailoring the shape of their business communications. We are seeing news media become more and more seamless, and fluid. Citizen journalism is growing in leaps and bounds, and the social media platforms are becoming increasingly useful tool for news dissemination, as well as sources for to the disseminated news items.

It is incontestable that the social media is a powerful free communication tool. However, there is still is a communication tool that is often much more powerful – the news media – and the people behind the scenes who produce the news, the journalists.

Journalists or reporters depend on one or more critical elements to create and produce news contents and one of those critical elements is the source. This is where you as business owner can position yourself to leverage on the power of the media.

There is no gainsaying the fact that journalists have the power to make and break brands, this, therefore, makes it vital for you as a business owner to develop “strong, effective and targeted relationships” with the media practitioners, in the words of Dana Gloger, Senior Account Manager at Portland, who advises clients on best practise in managing the press and broadcast media.

Like I said earlier, journalists need sources in order to do their jobs and you, the entrepreneur, can use this to your advantage by being an expert source for them.

Here’s one thing to have at the back of your mind though: business and news journalists are not looking to promote your business for you, rather, they are looking to gain in-depth or if you will, fuller understanding of a topic they may be writing on, or they may be looking to get a different point of view to a story they are writing or producing. It is, therefore, important that you know this to refrain from barraging them promotional contents.

You may be wondering: “what is in this for me?” To put it simply, “increased visibility and credibility, along with providing a platform for your ideas,” as Pincus put it.

By being an expert source to news or business reporters, you gain access to the journalists’ or media houses’ readers, viewers, and listeners.

“When you’re quoted as a leading authority about an idea, trend, product, or service, your knowledge is on display. That speaks far more powerfully about your reputation in your field than any paid promotional pitch. Being quoted in the media also opens up new avenues of reaching your target audiences and allows you to communicate with them in a different way.

“Successful interaction with the news media requires an understanding of what each of you has to gain: You gain a profile-enhancing forum while they gain a quotable expert to help tell a story,” Pincus wrote in her article and I must say that this is works for any business owner who engages with the media.

Next week, we will discuss ways to build relationships with the media.