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PR People and “Their Media Contacts”

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"We’ve got great media contacts."

PR types say this all the time, particularly in pitch meetings. But what exactly does it mean? What does it mean to you, the potential new client?

Let’s stick with the assumption that “great media contacts” means said PR person has existing relationships with reporters/bloggers/writers/producers who have the eyes and ears of your target audiences. (Note: “relationship” usually means that they’ve successfully delivered a story idea that resulted in an article, post, feature, whatever. It’d be interesting to know what the “great media contact” thinks of the “relationship.”) Nevertheless, this is a positive indicator. It’s definitely a check mark in the “pros” column.

But what is equally (if not more so) important is the PR person’s ability to identify newreporters/bloggers/producers/writers with which they have no existing relationship, extract relevant ideas/content/stories about you/your product/your company that are actually useful to aforementioned media type, facilitate new intros, and reach more/new audiences. 

And that question doesn’t get asked much. 

A potential client should ask their PR-hire-to-be (or not-to-be) the following: “OK. You’ve got your go-to folks and that’ll be great out of the gate. But then what?”

To that, we say the following: “Every PR type is going to tout their ‘great media contacts.’ We certainly have those warm relationships that are relevant to you and your business. And we’re pretty sure (not 100% sure) that they’ll open our emails and, assuming we deliver something of value to them and their audience, good things will happen. But what’s equally important is our ability to do two things: 1. consistently pull newsworthy content out of your business when there’s no funding to announce or no product updates to release (aka, the gaps), and 2. identify and organically create relationships with new reporters/bloggers/writers/producers who have the eyes and ears of your target audiences. A little more about that second point… it’s not just doing a keyword search in some bloated, error-riddle media database. It’s combing through Twitter to see which influencers are talking about your space. It’s taking note of subtleties. It’s evaluating all of their self-shared social content so that we know how, when and why we’re going to communicate with them. It’s delivering to you a few of their latest articles and suggesting you add a comment (they notice, trust me). It’s convincing them without coming across as slimy and convincing that you, your business and/or your product are usefulto their audience; not that they and their are useful to you. 

Ultimately, great “media contacts” are… ummm… great. But what sets apart good PR is the ability to forge new relationships from scratch and consistently identify company/product content, trends, ideas that are useful to the media—particularly when you’re in the doldrums of the company news cycle.” 

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