Lessons Learned from the Media: Being Human
Yesterday Shelley and I had the opportunity to attend a PRSA meeting with a panel of a few well-known media personalities from our area – Bob McLain from WORD-FM, Jordana Megonigal from Business Black Box and Michael Cogdill from WYFF News 4.
The focus of the discussion was the role of ethics in today’s world of journalism, but an overlying concept stood out to us: the need for humanization in public and media relations.
Relationships are (obviously) the core of PR, but with the shrinking size of newsrooms and editorial departments, quality engagements have become crucial. When approaching a media outlet for the first time, the panel told the group to lose any sense of entitlement you might have and approach staff at the bottom. Creative methods of news pitching might get initial attention, but reporters and assignment editors will only truly remember those who approach them as real people (hint: trash the manufactured pitch).
The meeting reminded me of an article from Brandweek we passed around the office not too long ago. I’m not sure when it became standard practice to write press releases and pitches more like a robot and less like a person, as author Todd Wasserman notes, but the notion should remind us that we’re really just people behind a computer.
Social media was an unavoidable topic in the panel discussion with the questions raised – Should journalists (or anyone for that matter) separate their personal and professional lives online? The consensus was no, a person’s job is part of who they are. The panel actually invited the audience to engage with and even pitch them over social media.
Not to long ago a blogger I was working with added me as a friend on Facebook, and actually started a discussion with me about a product over message on the site. I thought it was unusual at first, but I soon realized his approach was a fresh way to communicate with someone about business on a very personal level.
So with these new channels of communication now open and an understanding that it’s human nature to lack complete objectivity in news reporting, it seems that media relations is making a turn towards more real human interaction.
Shelley and I are new to the working world, and would love to hear about others’ efforts at becoming “more human” in public relations practice.