Notes Chapter 3, Cases and Campaigns



Download – Media Relations Template for planning

Media relations

Overview of chapter

Media Relations – Is the establishing of a working relationship between public relations professionals and journalists (media) representing appropriate mass (radio, TV, newspaper, online bloggers) and specialized media (trade or industry publications, online and bloggers).

Media relations deals with the ongoing involvement or relationship with the media for the purpose of enhancing its reputation and promoting  or obtaining publicity or news coverage for a client or organization. 

A news story at an established media outlet can reach audiences of interest, spreading to social media and word of mouth.

Credibility – A news story featured in a credible news agency will help give exposure and publicity, along with giving credibility to the message.

Targeted Gatekeepers – Targeting specific media or news gate keeps, such as journalists, editors, producers or more, is essential, the intermediate audience.  The actual targeted audience are the consumers of the media, news.


  1. Research – Research is one of the most import aspects of media relations is current media contacts of both mass and specialized media.
    Client research – Find out as much about the background data, information about client as possible.
    Client data – Include personnel, financial status, reputation, Google and do personal interviews.
    Media contact – Find out past and present relations with media representatives
    Strength, Weakness – Are the media coverage strengths or negative previous coverage?
    Opportunity or Problem Research – What event will work favorably for clients?  Community or national events to tie media coverage?
    Audience Research – Essential to understand the audience of mass and specialized media when reaching out to specific audiences.  In other words, it’s vital to identify the most appropriate media and their audiences to target communication.Mass media and specialized media
    Mass media – newspaper, magazine, TV, radio, online, bloggers
    Local, national and international
    Specialized media – trade industry, association publications
    Ethnic, special groups, specialized broadcast programs, stations
    Other online sources, bloggersIt’s also vital to understand the specific audience the client is trying to reach and the specific media relations area established.

    1.  Type and size of audience reached by each media outlet
    2.  Type of material used by media outlets, such as news, feature, interviews, photos, videos or more.
    3.  Name and title of appropriate editor, director, producer, reporter or staff writer handling news that relevant to client.
    4.  Deadlines – Know the deadlines for media contacts, they are usually very precise, such as day and time all require information is due.  Find all requirements for submission.

VITIAL TO  KNOW the media outlet, introduce yourself to the media contacts, if possible.


2.  Objectives – The objectives in media relations usually focus on a desired behavioral impact of favorable news coverage for a client.  Should be prepared to answer media questions, never with no comment.

Impact and output objectives

Impact objectives  – What are the desired modifications in attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audiences.
Increase knowledge of news about the client in community media relations
Enhance the client’s credibility among media people
Reinforce favorable attitudes of client among media people
Increase favorable client news coverage

Note: Targeting the media is only an intermediate goal.  Reaching the desired audience of the client is the goal with the use of the media.

Output objectives – It’s the efforts made by the PR prcationer on the behalf of the client in establishing media relations.

Types of output objectives
1.  To be service to the media, proactivity and reactively.
Proactive means to provide newsworthy stories about the client or organization. Reactively means to respond to media inquires IN A TIMELY MANNER.
2.  Coordinate media interviews with client and personnel
3.  Distribute feature story ideas to trade publications


3.  Programming – It’s essential to understand for media relations the audiences and the definition of news for a particular media outlet. 

Information provided should be newsworthy, client-centered special events, news releases, photos, news conferences, interviews and other forms of controlled media used to reach journalists.

Programing for media relations is the same as for other forms of public relations
1.  theme and message
2.  action or special events
3.  uncontrolled or controlled media
4.  principals of effective communication

Theme and Messages

  • Some events have themes and should be included in the messages sent to media agencies
  • Messages should be included in the requirements if an event is news worthy, targeted to appropriate media outlets
  • PR practitioner must understand the news and criteria for newsworthiness before approaching a new agency
  • Soft and hard news – Soft news is considered a feature, while spot news is considered hard news or breaking news.
  • Hard news – is temporal, or timely.  It‘s the news found on the front page.  If it’s not published in a timely manner, it could be too late.  Soft news, like a feature, considered evergreen, can wait to be published and will keep fresh for a few days, weeks or even a month or more.
  • Hard news – can be both good and bad, such as disasters and layoffs.  Responding with a special event or positive news feature is vital.
  • News – Is anything that an news agency want to publish or broadcast.

Action or Special Events
Hosting a special event or action is an opportunity for news coverage.  This can be come the news about a client.  Planning for maximum coverage is vital for actions or special events. (See page 31 for list of action and special events, 2-c)

Uncontrolled Media
Uncontrolled media are those in which someone outside of the organization, such as a media gatekeeper or journalist, determine the message.  Examples include news conferences and interviews.
Examples of Uncontrolled Media – News conferences and interviews

Most common forms of communication for public relations

  • News releases  – print, online and video
    The most common format in public relations.
    Provide a fast, economical way to communicate about spot new or feature news
  • Sending out – Most commonly emailed, but can be hand delivered, faxed.  Can be released in
  • Social Media – Twitter, Facebook feeds with direct ink to company website.
  • Online – Many organization have a list of most recent news releases on their website for reference.
  • Search Engine Optimization, SEO, using key words to help when searching on Google or other search engines.
  • Is it news or not? – Breaking through to gatekeepers – Make sure you have something that is news worthy.  Contact an editor, journalist directly.  The information should be ready to talk about on the phone or emailed.  If an editor is interested, reporter is assigned.
  • Contact details, be ready – A successful news release needs contact information, such as phone and email, social media.  Be ready for questions and interviews, don’t delay or return phone calls or emails.
  • Cultivate personal contacts first – The news release can be used to initiate contact with a journalist, but best to be cultivated through personal contact by phone, email or in person.  You must establish yourself as credible, valuable source about your organization or client for the media.
  • Video news release, VNR – Can be great way to release information, but can be considered fake news by some media organizations, especially if there’s no real attribution to the news sources.
  • Video and photographs opportunities – It’s good to have photos ready for use by media.  Some organizations prefer to use their own photographs.  Video and photo opportunities should be planned, not staged, in a natural setting.   Work with the media so they can help tell the most compelling story.
  • News conferences – New conferences should be used sparingly, inconvenient to journalist.  Make sure this is news, not a feature, don’t waste anyone time with a feature event.  This should be a significant event requiring a news conference, such as major corporate changes, layoffs, new product line or responding to allegations.  There should be time to ask questions publicly by media and privately.
  • Media interviews – Could include written story, photos, video, audio.  Provide the most direct contact with client/organization and media
  • Never say on or off the record – Say it or don’t say it, be consistent.  It’s too difficult to remember what was said and not said.  Find out how to handle something you don’t know how to answer.

Controlled Media
Controlled media allows an organization the ability to control the content, timing, packaging or information and audience access of the message.

Examples of Controlled Media – newsletters, brochures, corporate or company videos,   websites and blogs.

Media Kit – PR professional usually provide a media kit at a news conference or online. 
Usually includes:

  • Opening statements and quotes from a news conference or an executive
    Basic news release
  • Backgrounder information about the organization
  • Printed materials – brochures, flyers, newsletter, financial reports and  more
  • Photos, online links to resources, videos, social media
  • Media kit usually available online or can be requested

Effective Communication
Media relations has two step flow of communication

Traditional Communication – Messages stream from a mass media source to opinion leaders and then to the colleges of the opinion leaders.

Media Relations – Reversed process
Communication flows from public relations practitioner to the media and to the media audience.

Source credibility – The media must think of the PR representative and the client  or organization as trustworthy and reliable.

Significant, referenced as salient in textbook – Make sure you can communicate in term that can be understood or make sure they are redefined for the media.  Example:  Boil down scientific terms and meanings.

If the communication does not mention the features that are significant or news, you will not reach the intermediate audience of the  media and the audience of the media.


4.  Evaluation – When evaluating media relations, always refer to the program’s stated objectives.

The impact objective of informing the media abut the client is generally measured by assessing the exposure of the message to the media, publicity placement.

Measurement – Impact of objectives can be measured through publicity placement, circulation and audience data, computer tracking of messages or content analysis.   

Message exposure can be measure by the circulation figures, audience -size data available form the publications and broadcast media.

Publicity placement is the major method of evaluating  the success of message exposure.

Attitude objectives – Conduct sample surveys of the target audiences, but might not be feasible with journalist, with possible negative reactions.  Scientific assessment of attitudes is possible and easy to obtain.

Evaluating Output Objectives

  • Placement is a was of evaluating effective media relations can be evaluated by the placement in obtaining desired publicity for a client.
  • Evaluation of media relations is determined on the successful and favorable placement of PR uncontrolled media.
  • Successful media relations is the matter of placement, clearly visible in prominent locations and obtaining the desired publicity for the client.

NOTE: Remember MAE (Measure, analysis and evaluate)