The media's role is to package and spread news, current affairs and public interest information to the public. They have great power to shape and influence public opinion, to target and exploit audience reactions, emotions and opinions.
Setting up and maintaining good relationships with the media can be of enormous benefit. Effective media relations promote trust and balance between the media and an individual and their organisation.
Once you've proved yourself as a useful and dependable information source, you'll realise it can; help to get your story into a news cycle, and provide opportunities for the media to approach you for comment on appropriate stories which in turn helps a journalist add depth, by filling gaps or backing up information, to their story.
Effective media relations is about working with, rather than against, the media. That's not to say you can't have a robust relationship with the media. However, adopting this approach gives you better access to journalists when there is something to say in the media.
Being available for comment when asked is another essential ingredient in effective media relations. In a crisis, your well-established media relationship can also provide you with a stronger opportunity to get a fair hearing in response.
Consider for a moment reactive media relations - the only time you deal with the media is when things go wrong. The reactive situation puts pressure on outcomes and doesn't always allow for your messages to be delivered in a positive way. Obviously pressured reactive responses, or worst still, no response at all, can negatively influence public opinion of you and your organisation.
Media relations is also about; putting out regular media releases on appropriate issues that catch the eye, with short paragraphs written in newspaper style; actively providing comment on issues and or decisions; knowing what builds or makes a story; and knowing how to keep a story alive and when to let it go.
Using the media effectively can help you win public support. Public support is critical when trying to convince others, such as government or bureaucracy of the merit of a particular proposal or application.
Once you're comfortable talking to the media you should take a proactive approach to your media relations. The benefits are well worth it in the long run.
If you're not ready to manage your own media relations, but would like to work toward it, consider approaching a specialist in the field. They can provide advice or management as appropriate on media issues, help write media releases, distribute media releases, organise news conferences, facilitate one-on-one meetings with journalists, as well as deal with crisis and issues management.
Effective media relations can help you and your organisation develop a media profile. The benefit of a media profile becomes obvious when doors open wider for you within government, business and the community.
Mark Croxford advises clients from the government, private and corporate sectors on Government and Media Relations. He is a co-author of Talking to the Media. Talking to the Media teaches readers the skills and techniques they need to exploit the media's strengths, limitations and demands. Don't spend any money on media training until you've read Talking to the Media http://www.talkingtothemedia.com