On June 14th, PR veteran Karen Mateo visited the office to share some bits of wisdom gained from nearly 25 years in the field, first at the CBS Corporation and now as the Chief Communications Officer at the Public Relations Society of America. From her work with radio personalities to professional athletes, Karen understands the ins and outs of media relations. Here are three key insights she shared for developing mutually-beneficial relationships with our clients and the media.
Karen reminded us that our jobs are more than just getting hits for our clients: we need to connect with journalists, too, and help make their jobs easier. With newsrooms across America shrinking or disappearing, and journalists’ beats continuously expanding, PR fills a growing need on behalf of reporters for compelling stories and valuable expertise. The flip side of this equation is that there are now an estimated six PR professionals for every journalist in the nation. Cultivating good relationships with reporters by understanding their needs is how we stand out in such a crowded field. If we can make a reporter’s job easier by taking some weight off their shoulders through targeted pitching, they are more likely to come back later for stories, opening up opportunities for all of our clients.
Next, Karen spoke on the differing demands of print, television, and radio interviews, and encouraged us to understand where our spokespeople might most effectively share their message. The bright lights and glamour of a TV interview, a live conversation broadcast on the radio, and an extended intimate dialogue for print are all valuable tools for the PR professional, but there are very few people who excel at all three. Our responsibility as we develop client relationships is to understand where our spokesperson’s message will shine and create opportunities for that to happen.
Finally, Karen suggested that in addition to asking questions of our clients, we use our experience to advise them on strategy in ways they may not have considered before. Our clients are experts in their fields, and know more about their missions and organizations than we ever could; but we are experts in ours. Developing a mutually beneficial relationship means asking lots of questions to hone in on the client’s message, and then advising how best to deliver that message to the public in new and innovative ways. By upholding our end of the bargain, by trusting our guts without seeking constant guidance on strategy, we can both make our clients’ jobs easier and deliver them a more effective communications plan: a win-win.