Tips for Handling Media Relations as an Entry Level Associate
Coming into any job as an entry-level employee can be daunting at first, especially right out of college. You go from sleeping in, rushing to classes, and working summer internships to waking up early and working long hours, which can be exhausting at first. It’s safe to say that transitioning from college life to work life is definitely a change, and while it’s difficult to say goodbye to an entire life chapter, it’s also exciting to welcome a new one.
When I first started at The Herald Group about four months ago, I had a basic knowledge of public affairs from past internships, but I had never handled projects entirely on my own. So, when I was tasked with handling the media relations for a client, I was definitely a little nervous. Albeit a little apprehensive at first, I was intent on doing a good job, so I took the necessary steps to do so.
Below are some tips for entry level public affairs folks to succeed in handling media relations:
- Always ask questions to clarify
I think this goes without saying, but in my experience, you can never ask too many questions. As an entry-level employee, it’s better to ask your supervisors questions rather than crafting a pitch or an e-mail in an ineffective way. Asking questions is the only way to truly learn, so take advantage of the people in the firm that have more experience than you to develop your skill set.
- Make sure you do your research
It’s important that before pitching any reporter, you know the issue you’re pitching well. Read articles, blogs or any other materials that will assist in shaping your message. This helps so you aren’t caught off guard when a reporter responds asking for more detailed information.
- Stay organized
You should always have a coordinated list of reporters you intend to pitch. The list should include necessary information including name, email address, phone number and publication—breaking them up by tier can also be helpful. This way, when the time comes to reach out, you are ready to go and aren’t left feeling stressed to figure out which reporters you need to contact.
- Meet reporters in person
While a phone call can be just as beneficial, it’s also important to switch it up from time to time and embrace in person meetings as well. This provides a face-to-face opportunity for a client needing media exposure, which can lead to fostering mutually valuable relationships for the future. Also important is scheduling the meeting at a quiet location so the conversation is not interrupted by excessive outside chatter.
- If you don’t hear back within a few days, always follow up
It’s important that you follow up with a reporter you first reach out to. It might feel like you are being a pest, but sending that second e-mail or making that second phone call can be the difference between getting something published or not. If you follow up a second time and still no response, then you can move onto new prospects.