PRAccording to PRSA’s July 2013 issue of PR Tactics, the media relations environment is continually changing and as a result many PR professionals are faced with contemplating their own fate within the process. While CEOs can make the best spokesperson in times of big announcements or when there are big issues, they can’t answer every question. PR professionals can help disseminate information about the organization and enhance the message delivery process by providing background, context, and additional contacts.

This rapid change in the way that news media gathers and reports information provides PR professionals with both an opportunity and obligation to retain their place in the media relations process by being a knowledgeable and valuable resource.

Susan Balcom Walton, M.A., APR, vice president for the university and public affairs at the University of North Dakota, provides the following seven tips for enhancing your value to journalist.

  1. Know who can provide the right information – By knowing who the most appropriate subject-matter experts are, and preparing them to interact with the media, PR professionals can provide journalist with fast and effective access to the information they are looking for.
  2. Don’t just understand the subject at hand; understand the business – It’s important for PR pros to understand the factors that drive marketplace success, and to stay current on what’s going on in the industry in order to be able provide important perspectives and comment on industry issues.
  3.  Build relationships outside the information-exchange process – When organizations cultivate relationships within the community they are able to develop a better understanding of how local media works.
  4. Known journalists’ preferences for receiving information – Everyone has a preference for how they receive information whether it be by phone calls, emails or tweets, but social media has some limitations. Sometimes greater depth is required, and live conversations are best to answer critical questions.
  5. Understand that trying to micromanage a journalist’s communication process may backfire and hurt credibility – Many journalists have admitted that they often circumvent official spokespeople because of their frustration with PR pros that insist on approving interview questions, or who sit in on interviews and frequently interrupt.
  6. Be truthful and factual. PR people fill the vital function of providing multiple perspectives to a story – While there are multiple ways to see an issue there aren’t multiple ways to see the facts. PR pros who have misrepresented information to the media will likely find it next to impossible to establish credibility in the future.
  7. Educate your CEO about your role –It’s important to educate your CEO about what you can do and where you can add value to the organization broadly and not just as a single department. By building a partnership with your CEO, you can work together to serve the public interest, and demonstrate your value by sharing your organization’s story.



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