Here’s why media relations is not the same as media publicity.
Take a typical scenario. Imagine you’ve surveyed 1,000 people on their attitute to inheritance tax or garden gnomes on behalf of a mortgage supplier or estate agent. It’s still August and your findings have made it into the pages of a national newspaper or onto a broadcast news bulletin. Great. Except for one thing: there was no mention of the mortgage supplier or estate agent in the news report. Your boss or client is not happy.
Hit or miss? As a piece of ‘free advertising’ it’s clearly a failure. But what about this as a piece of media relations? It suggests that your news release was newsworthy and that your targeting had some success. It also gives you an opening to go back to that reporter – not to recriminate, but to offer further relevant stories in future.
Here’s another consideration. Given the rate of churn in our industry, your relationship with that reporter will possibly be longer-lasting than your relationship with your client or employer. This isn’t an invitation to get sacked, but simply a plea for longer-term thinking to prevail.
UPDATE: For a behind-the-scenes account of how PR surveys are conducted, check out Ben Goldacre writing in the Guardian blog.