The media relations function consists essentially of generating appropriate publicity and stimulating positive news coverage for the activities of the client or organization. Each medium serves as an intermediate audience and delivers the public relations message you want to convey to target publics or key audiences. Since the media are able to reach virtually every audience, these efforts can pay substantial dividends.

The media also have the advantage of being perceived as independent, lending your message third-party credibility. The communication process can be aptly described as a two-step flow. Communication flows from the public relations practitioner to the media and then to the media audience. The messages sent should be governed by newsworthiness applicable to the targeted media outlets. An understanding of the nature of news and the criteria for newsworthiness is essential.

Effective media relations begin with an understanding of the inherent differences in the media's needs and approaches. To develop relationships with the media, you should provide information designed and packaged to meet the needs of journalists. One of your goals as a practitioner is to develop a good relationship with the media and update them with current information on the organization's actions and special events. Of course, you need to have an up-to-date list of media contacts for both mass and specialized outlets in order to achieve this goal.

The effectiveness of media relations is often measured by the amount of publicity desired stated in the goal or objectives for a particular program compared to the actual news coverage and media placement received. Did you reach your goal? Did your company's action or special event generate its maximum news value? These are questions you may consider when evaluating your public relations efforts.

Trends in Media Relations
There is an ever-increasing need for balance between business strategy and public opinion. This can be achieved by keeping an eye out for emerging social and political trends. It also means offering guidance on how management should respond. For today's global companies, the added challenge is to stay alert for emerging trends both here in the United States and overseas. Such a broad perspective takes media relations beyond mere press coverage to influence public perception and behavior toward the organization.

Copywright 2001, Sheila E. Fridman, Gainesville, Fla.
This site was last updated Wednesday, April 19, 2001.
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