We recently had a call from someone who wanted to hire us to “distribute a release and build media relationships” for them. Those requests immediately gave me concerns and I was pretty certain that we wouldn’t be a good fit for this particular project. However, we never want to shut someone down before understanding what they need. If we’re not a good fit, we will do our best to help them find someone who is.
I questioned this person a bit further. Even though AHA doesn’t distribute releases that aren’t written by us, I asked to see the release so I could understand what this person wanted to promote. It was five pages long, filled with corporate speak and industry jargon. And, as far as I could see, there was no news value. When I explained the fact that we aren’t a news release distribution service and identified the challenges in the release, this person then asked if we could just develop a media database for them of all the journalists we know and they would distribute it. He went on to explain that he needed to create some media relationships and wanted to do that as quickly as possible. I did my best to explain how it doesn’t work that way, but I am not sure that he understood what I was trying to tell him.
At our PR agency, media, blogger and social media relationships are an important component of what we do. We spend a great deal of time and effort on this. We have established strong, positive relationships in a wide range of areas including travel/hospitality, entertainment, food and beverage, education, non-profit and government to name a few. As we build our relationships with journalists, bloggers and influencers, we build our clients relationships with them as well. We set up information meetings, we help our clients provide relevant information (which is not always about them), we provide access to interviews with senior people at client organizations, and we make sure there are images, information, facts and stats ready and available to their deadlines. We get our clients to participate in social media and to authentically connect with their communities.
We follow journalists on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn and even on Facebook (sometimes – but that’s a different blog post). We read their articles every day, we watch their newscasts, we listen to the radio shows and we spend a lot of time online to see what is going on. We engage on social media sites with influencers (never disguising who we are, by the way). It takes time and effort. We work at it. And we get results for our clients.
You can’t just casually hand over relationships like those and expect that it would work that way. And the fact is, even if you could, we wouldn’t.