This is a guest blog post by Jason Mollica.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen the quotes, tweets and Facebook posts from journalists about public relations pros being sneaky, unethical, or distrustful. It’s something, unfortunately, that comes with the territory. Most of this distrust comes from our friends in the media being burned in the past, and there is an assumption that all PR pros must be like this.
Case in point: One of my current clients, New York digital video communications firm D S Simon, recently released their 14th annual “Media Influencers Report.” It showed that 90% of the digital journalists, producers and bloggers surveyed said they’ve been misled by PR pros, with nearly a quarter of them saying it happens often. As an example, many of the respondents indicated that videos they receive often lack the proper disclosure, which “significantly reduces the chances that they’ll consider using it.”
Whether you are an experienced solo professional or not, being trustworthy and ethical are two of the biggest traits you can have. As Kellye has shown over the years, the Solo PR Pro community is full of highly professional, ethical practitioners – it’s key to long-term success.
But if the media already has a preconceived notion about the public relations field, what can we do to break through and build a positive relationship? Here are a few tips to gain the media’s trust now and in the future:
1. Start a conversation- I’ll be moving to the Maryland area soon. The media will have no idea who I am or that I work ethically. How do I fix that?
My plan is to reach out to some key editors to introduce myself (without pitching) and get to know them. By showing them I’m not someone who always wants something, I hope to help to foster a good relationship. It also doesn’t hurt to reach out to fellow pros that you trust and get their input on reporters.
2. Don’t give the media a reason to question you- It begins with open and transparent communications. Once the media have a reason to question you and/or your client, trust is out the window. If you seem like you have something to hide, you most likely do – and this will not help your future opportunities with a reporter or other media outlet.
3. Lead don’t mislead- In the D S Simon report, 68% of media influencers say they sometimes have been mislead by a PR pro. That’s a pretty large percentage. Make certain when you are working with the media that you provide them with the most information you can divulge or provide. That’s not to say you need to be an open book. But, the more open you can be, the better it will be for you and your client.
4. Follow up and check in – If there is one thing I like to do with the media, it’s follow up. After they’ve covered a client or featured them in a story, I reach out to see if they need more information and just say thank you. It seems like it really doesn’t matter, but it does. I’ve developed good media relationships because of a simple thank you for doing a story on a client.
5. Flip the script- If you want to change perceptions of the field, make sure you share thoughts in a blog post or pitch a story on why public relations is changing. Kellye shares many great posts on the Solo PR Pro blog here; many that paint our field in a tremendous light. Take that post and put them on social networks or share with a member of the media. The more information we provide about ethics, transparency, and trust, the better we will all be.
What do you think about the study’s findings and about trust in PR, in general? Let me know!