PR working with relevant Media

0 Views
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
The acceptance of the news gatherer for business PR as its information source is based upon confidential understandings that are in turn based on usage rather than formal rules. When a reporter wishes information regarding a company, his source, technically, is the president or general manager. He calls PR when a relationship exists. The relationship may be only that the practitioner's name is known among media people. At least until he learns better, he tends to take the practitioner's word. This somewhat elemental detail is inserted here because it is the day to day method of established PR working with relevant media. But it does not always work as smoothly as it might. As a rule, failures are to be laid at PR's door. Most PR is conditioned to put forward the company's best foot, to say the least. Bearing in mind that all media does not care greatly whether its reports are accurate or not, and some like to please the company heads, career PR should try for some degree of objectivity, whether his status in the company is staff or counselor.

Newspaper reporters and editors quickly become aware of practitioners who distort simple news on their own, or because company executives insist on "our rights." Most such friction involves personnel and employee matters that companies consider private when they are negative and community relations when favorable. But the media's major complaint against business PR is its willingness to abandon a confidential relationship when the going is rough.

Younger practitioners must scan their finally approved stories carefully to be sure they are not merely pleasant reading fiction put out by the company.



In normal practice, PR in headquarters and plant cities tends to approach the media at a ratio of three; four or more times offering information for each time media approach them. The most frequent complaint of editors about such handouts, or releases, is the deliberate distortion, or great ignorance, of the writer. In another vein, editors complain of "wrong media" approaches. In larger cities the reading public is not interested in a model change for an established product under normal conditions. In turn, a business paper whose readers are dealers for that product line may be unable to get a confirmation "till after the convention."

The Client Has to Trust You

In general, among the communications oriented group that may fraternize in the community, practitioners are aware that in exchanges of confidence each is on his own. Even more pointedly, the practitioner sitting on an undisclosed gem of bad news can seldom seal lips of reporters or others by going "off the record." Variations of these situations are not always easy for businessmen to understand completely. They tend to collar unwary reporters and spill the story of the advance research, closing with "of course, that's off the record, Joe." If Joe is an old hand he evaluates the story without the disclaimer. That creates a sticky situation in the PR office.

Media people are entitled to their own evaluations in materials for their mills: good, bad or indifferent. Many PR practitioners tend to guide the reporter's or editor's pencil. A popular way that is seldom appreciated is telling the writer what the boss would like to see printed. It is part of the PR role to assist his management in understanding the relations with media. Perhaps the most important source of friction is the matter of media choice: the client who tells PR where he wants a story placed, as if he were scheduling an advertisement.

While the Golden Rule may be too general here, the practitioner and his client should try for mutuality with channels they depend upon to get their stories told. In dealings with business publications there is a strong factor of mutuality that may cause suspicion of collusion among outsiders.

In its earliest incarnation the business press tended to trade publicity mentions for advertising. Though not widely practiced nowadays, it is highly probable that a practitioner looking for such a publication will not go unrewarded. As clients and practitioners ultimately learn, audience validity is the yardstick for communications values. Rather than seek a hungry editor, PR is serving itself best when it devotes its study to media requirements. Even though it may lack dimension for national distribution, the Wall Street Journal should be offered all corporate materials. Preferably, the local financial editor should get first look.

In plant communities in the shadow of metropolitan dailies but endowed with weeklies read by employees' families, PR should cultivate and respect the community organ as much as the more prestigious. These editors should be invited to press affairs even though the product or finance story has little community interest.

Weekly's deadline will be on Monday or Tuesday, and the Sunday paper's on Thursday, coinciding with print day for the weekly. The way to start a relation with the nearby paper is to invite the editor to the company cafeteria, or a nearby cafe, for lunch and a handshake with the president or general manager. In independent small cities the editor normally is acquainted with the big people.

When everyone is acquainted, and the company has a good relationship with the Sunday paper, the best procedure is to release material, perhaps stories of personnel anniversaries or employee events, on Monday one week and Wednesday the next week. Give both stories, including equal treatment on photos, to both papers at once. That way each gets a chance to use one first.

Normally PR does not supply weekly community media with marketing or other business stories that may interest the daily business editor. But if a general business story is given to the daily editor and to the business press, it should be sent along to the community paper. The editor is interested in the business activities of the neighbors, even though the story may not fit into his readers' interests.

Community papers should have visits and all news related to union contracts, strikes or not. But few such papers want to print these except single mentions at the time the contract talk start, when the plant is struck, and when the contract is signed and the men return. If a strike lasts more than two weeks, the weekly editor should be invited to the company for a visit PR arranges with the general manager.

Cultivate the Business Press

In its formative years the business press was among the first to recognize in PR the type of inside service that helps business tell its story fully.

The practitioner's education on the ramifications of the business press may take many years or it may never be Media people are entitled to their own evaluations in materials for their mills: good, bad or indifferent. Many PR practitioners tend to guide the reporter's or editor's pencil. A popular way that is seldom appreciated is telling the writer what the boss would like to see printed. It is part of the PR role to assist his management in understanding the relations with media. Perhaps the most important source of friction is the matter of media choice: the client who tells PR where he wants a story placed, as if he were scheduling an advertisement.

While the Golden Rule may be too general here, the practitioner and his client should try for mutuality with channels they depend upon to get their stories told. In dealings with business publications there is a strong factor of mutuality that may cause suspicion of collusion among outsiders.

In its earliest incarnation the business press tended to trade publicity mentions for advertising. Though not widely practiced nowadays, it is highly probable that a practitioner looking for such a publication will not go unrewarded. As clients and practitioners ultimately learn, audience validity is the yardstick for communications values. Rather than seek a hungry editor, PR is serving itself best when it devotes its study to media requirements. Even though it may lack dimension for national distribution, the Wall Street. Journal should be offered all corporate materials. Preferably, the local financial editor should get first look.

In plant communities in the shadow of metropolitan dailies but endowed with weeklies read by employees' families, PR should cultivate and respect the community organ as much as the more prestigious. These editors should be invited to press affairs even though the product or finance story has little community interest.

Big City Community Relations

Industrial and retailing concerns have in common that a majority have employees represented by unions whose major interest to the whole community may be confined to new contract negotiations. In communities where PR's routine contact with the dailies is with the business editor, with a lesser relation with city editors, it is usually in the company's interest for the practitioner to set up a semi social meeting (luncheon, etc.) with his editorial counterpart and alert him of the coming contract reopening.

His best approach is head on: "You know, Joe, the union contract at our place ends July 1. I thought I might run over what I sec. There have been several big boosts in this year's wage rounds, and they may come after more than can be negotiated easily."

Labor News: Handle with Care

Almost everywhere the business editor handles labor news. If Joe, in our example, is the business editor, he may ask, "does it look like they want to strike?" If there is no overt situation that could affect a contract signing at its routine time, most editors on city papers want only a valid opinion on probability.

You tell Joe: "There have been several decisions on grievances that the rank and file are upset over. The officers are a little worried: we have compulsory arbitration in its third year; of course they will stand hard against that, but our people will not bend. They'll take the strike."

There is nothing intended here that Joe can use in a story. He will appreciate the realistic viewpoint. Back in his office he may make a note of the date. If the strike comes the question of supplying information will depend largely upon the union's attitude. If they made frequent statements it is always better to withhold comments that encourage daily rejoinder types of interchange. Newspapers rarely encourage publicity seeking elected union officials, but when companies reply "no comment" it becomes difficult for the paper or its readers to sympathize.

The best simple technique is to again discuss the situation with your reporter friend, or the managing editor, when the strike is imminent. At that time you may accuse the union of taking a difficult attitude for internal political reasons. Then you should tell the paper: we will keep you informed, but because of the politics, we understand the union is preparing to go all out on "lockout" type publicity. "We mention that now because we feel that such publicity will only prolong any interruption that occurs." Short of declaring a news blackout, a course sometimes adopted, the paper's awareness of pressure tactics, by either side, is perhaps the surest way to control such publicity.

Community and Suburban Weekly Press

In plant or offices in suburban communities the weekly paper's principal editorial interest in its local enterprises is confined largely to the employees. Their most frequent complaint regarding PR in branch or subsidiary units is a tendency to release employee news to the metropolitan press at times not suited to their weekly deadlines. Since PR does not always control timing on news, such complaints are not always justified. However, non local residents in plant communities heading PR tend to favor the metropolitan press for stories of considerable interest. The PR justification often is that the local paper is not competently edited nor widely read. Even when this is true, it is in the interest of PR and the company to support it in the hope of improving it. Local media are great assets in employee and community relations.

In many communities the weekly competes for news with the Sunday editions of nearby city papers. Usually the weekly's deadline will be on Monday or Tuesday, and the Sunday paper's on Thursday, coinciding with print day for the weekly. The way to start a relation with the nearby paper is to invite the editor to the company cafeteria, or a nearby cafe, for lunch and a handshake with the president or general manager. In independent small cities the editor normally is acquainted with the big people.

When everyone is acquainted, and the company has a good relationship with the Sunday paper, the best procedure is to release material, perhaps stories of personnel anniversaries or employee events, on Monday one week and Wednesday the next week. Give both stories, including equal treatment on photos, to both papers at once. That way each gets a chance to use one first.

Normally PR does not supply weekly community media with marketing or other business stories that may interest the daily business editor. But if a general business story is given to the daily editor and to the business press, it should be sent along to the community paper. The editor is interested in the business activities of the neighbors, even though the story may not fit into his readers' interests.

Community papers should have visits and all news related to union contracts, strikes or not. But few such papers want to print these except single mentions at the time the contract talks start, when the plant is struck, and when the contract is signed and the men return. If a strike lasts more than two weeks, the weekly editor should be invited to the company for a visit PR arranges with the general manager.

Cultivate the Business Press

In its formative years the business press was among the first to recognize in PR the type of inside service that helps business tell its story fully.

The practitioner's education on the ramifications of the business press may take many years or it may never be stable in the sense of completeness. This is due largely to the diverse functional formats and types of sponsorships of these publications. Broadly, the publications that serve business from the viewpoints of industries or trades are divided into two types: independently published, or published by associations representing industries or business fields. Also, they are shaped to represent a craft that may exist in many businesses, such as PR and metals finishing; or they may be horizontal and concern themselves with everything in the electrical field, or a function in that field, such as generating power, or wholesaling equipment. For example: a manufacturer of major appliances for the home may find 200 business publications potentially interested in his operations. That would not include financial or general business publications.

The business press lives off exchanging information among businesses in the multitudes of shapes indicated in the foregoing partial listing of their many definitions. Here are some guidelines related to editorial interests:

Speaking technically, "trade" magazines are concerned with various forms of marketing and product services promotions. These may deal with the products as found in materials in fields or mines: an electrical trade paper might be interested sharply in a copper supply story: their industries use lots of copper. But while the Chain Store Age might carry such a story, as a trade paper its prime interests are new products, packages, promotion; new industry personnel or management alignments; resignations of bigwigs and acquisitions by the big company; everything that a chain store operator or investor would want to know. The readers of Home Furnishings Daily may have an even broader field of interests. Such media have fantastic appetites for publicity materials from their industry manufacturers, distributors and dealers and all who have dealings for profit with them.

Good trade stories should not be backward about using terms such as profit, new product, dealer growth and other signs that it is profitable to read the trade paper. These publications get their revenue from the manufacturers, largely for advertising.

Technical Press Requires Technical PR

Another highly specialized sector of the business press is devoting its publications to engineering, science and the specialized occupations based upon factual concerns of these practitioners in teaching or a hundred or more occupational fields.

The editorial rule is that the PR writer for these is himself an engineer or a science writer. Science writing is not necessarily done by scientists. Some practitioners with broad educations learn the techniques of science communications and do very well on aspects such as the business relations of scientific or engineering services or products. Even more often such science writers interpret the highly technical developments for non engineering readers either in the business fields or in newspapers. Those writers often welcome information regarding" developments of a scientific nature.

In summary, PR practitioners in business should keep a file on the major publications classified as the business press. That could easily include 200 or more publications. There are more than 2,000 business publications across the country, although some have a geographic limitation: confined to one city, state or region.

Make the Most of Radio/TV

As the purveyor of general news in every American community radio/TV are as much a part of PR province as the city dailies or community papers. There are several ways in which they receive information from their various sources, just as other media have their characteristics. For general news released by PR to daily newspapers and those in home communities, radio and TV stations are handled in the same manner. If a PR office delivers general releases to city editors, it does the same with radio or TV. Even the titles are often the same, but where they differ the modifications will not affect the results.

With due regard for networks and the pattern of radio and TV news programs being identified with advertising", the editorial staff are confined to that aspect in the broadcasting just as in printed publications. The stations are local, as is the newspaper. Its wire news comes from wire services. If local news reaches networks the process is the same as newspaper local stories being picked up by wire services.

In dealing with radio the practitioner normally sends his material in an envelope marked for his contact or city editor. For TV news the same basic method applies. As local stations sometimes are set up, they may have commentators or "columnists" with business shows, or "human interest shows" including interviews with local or visiting celebrities, etc. Also, when new products are introduced both radio and TV have opportunities of using tape or film.

In setting up press meetings PR should always ask each station, radio and TV, if they wish to cover it "live." The answer usually relates to the manpower and activity situation.

In press meetings or other types of live press coverage where print and broadcast are there together, it is suggested that PR try to arrange with management and the media to make radio tapes or film TV either before or after the general session. The broadcast may reach more people than the newspapers, and do it sooner, but most business press meetings in larger cities have several business publications and perhaps a community paper or two. It is at best uncomfortable for the pencil and pad reporters to wait while the manager devotes a half hour or so to the broadcast people.

Working with Local Associations

As the last named here, the contemporaries who direct the associations and civic groups that PR works with throughout the year are not meant to be last in relevancy and importance.

Among the greatest assets that a staff or counseling practitioner in business can acquire is a close interchange working relation with professionals in the non profit fields. Often the professionals in associations are former business PR practitioners; or they may be the direct source of an inquiry that leads to a national story or photo opportunity. Even more deeply valuable to PR are the business relations of these fellow professionals. In business most practitioners have officers whose stories, told to strategic audiences, can bring great benefits to the company. Among the association directors are countless gatherings and other occasions where a speaker may reach an otherwise inaccessible audience.

In formulating a semi social and business community pattern that will include business writers, broadcasters and editors, the practitioner should give equal time and thought to the non profit segment of associations and other public professionals. In spreading himself thus, he will know where to look when he has something needing media, if all of them are related to the community groups of communications people suggested here.

SUMMARY

Principal channels for PR are newspapers, radio/TV and the business press. Local weeklies should be treated on equal basis with metropolitan dailies and trade press, at least for general business stories.

A file should be kept on all major publications classified as business press. These may be trade or technical, and stories for them are planned accordingly. Fellow professionals in non profit associations and civic ventures are an important part of the pattern of community channels.

QUESTIONS

How does the PR man handle news releases for radio/TV stations?
Suggest a list of media which might be interested in a PR story about new general partners admitted to a local bakery concern.
If this article has helped you in some way, will you say thanks by sharing it through a share, like, a link, or an email to someone you think would appreciate the reference.



EmploymentCrossing is great because it brings all of the jobs to one site. You don't have to go all over the place to find jobs.
Kim Bennett - Iowa,
  • All we do is research jobs.
  • Our team of researchers, programmers, and analysts find you jobs from over 1,000 career pages and other sources
  • Our members get more interviews and jobs than people who use "public job boards"
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.
PRCrossing - #1 Job Aggregation and Private Job-Opening Research Service — The Most Quality Jobs Anywhere
PRCrossing is the first job consolidation service in the employment industry to seek to include every job that exists in the world.
Copyright © 2019 PRCrossing - All rights reserved. 21