I was enjoying a cup of hot coffee with a slice of strawberry shortcake while enjoying the scenic view of Baguio mountains when suddenly, a senior media relations (MR) officer asked me: “Jess, as a journalist, what tips could you give to young MRs to be an effective practitioner?”

In general perspective, Public Relations (PR) is the profession/practice of building good relationship between an organization and its audience. In media industry, PR professional is the middle man between the brands and the media.

Combining my professional background as a communication graduate with a degree in public relations and a journalist who has first hand experiences how different MRs treated me, I answered her question by giving three habits every MR officer should avoid.

  1. Ignoring the rank and file journalists

My journalism mentor from Philippine Daily Inquirer taught me that when inquiring information about notable individuals, the best sources are those who are with them every day—their drivers, secretaries, and house helpers. Thus, building a good relationship with them not just to my subject is an advantage.

The same principle can be applied to PR profession. Editors are the one editing the stories but it is the writers/reporters WHO WRITE THE ARTICLE. Imagine if you didn’t treat a reporter well in one of your events, what do you think he could possible write about the brand you’re representing?

Also, editors received so many e-mails every single day. There’s a fat possibility that your message will get in the bottom of it. Having a good relationship with a reporter inside will help you a lot in doing a follow-up for a story or an invite. Friendship keycard always worked for me when I was still working as an account manager in a PR firm before, so I know this by experience.

It is important to treat everyone equally. I remember, whenever I sent gift or token for editors before, I made sure that I also sent out for the reporters.

2. Journalists vs. bloggers/vloggers

Media industry is dynamic. The advent of technology paved way for other forms of medium you can use in reaching your target audience. But it doesn’t mean that there should be a competition between traditional and new media, a.k.a bloggers/vloggers.

It is vital to realize that these two have different audience and that we shouldn’t box our target market based on their generation alone.

Let me share with you a story I heard. In an event, a journalist came early. Wanting to get nice photos, she looked out for good spot along the area dedicated for the members of the media. Since she was there before the program started, she got the right spot. But later on, the PR asked her to leave that space because apparently that lane was reserved for bloggers/vloggers.

Imagine that! As result, the reported told her editor what happened. It it took some time for that event story to be published, and it just give a small place in the newspaper.

The point is, as MR, you should treat everyone with equal respect. I think this something we should apply not just in our profession but also in our every day lives. Lastly,

3. Remembers only when in need

Remember that public relations’ main objective is to build a good reputation for the brand by having a good relation with its stakeholders. Just like a romantic relationship, trust won’t be built within just a snap of your fingers. The same principles goes with having a harmonious relationship with the media.

PR mentors taught me that in building a good relationship with the media, I should know them personally. I had a database of their birthdays and anniversaries and I made sure to never forget to send gifts during those special days. I was also encouraged to converse with them from time to time. That’s how you will have a genuine friendship—by being part of their lives, instead of only remembering them when you need something. Just like when you’re seeding stories or if you need warm bodies for your event.

There you are! These are the main points I shared with aside from stop sending press releases in PDF format and in CDs, dispatching photos without caption, and giving low resolution images. I hope you’ll find it helpful.

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