Real World Lessons in Media Relations

Whenever I pictured myself as a future public relations professional, I had always envisioned myself at an agency. I had never thought about doing public relations for a hospital until my internship in the media relations department at Mercy – St. John’s in Springfield, Mo. I received experience interviewing both doctors and patients, writing feature stories and news releases, utilizing social media platforms and even event planning.

This internship taught me the importance of having a good relationship with the media because I worked with the media on a daily basis. To improve your relationships with the media, follow these three tips that I learned in my internship.

1. Invite one of the key players out for lunch or coffee
Missouri State Chapter Vice President, Bethany Parry (right), presents the Top Blogger Contest Award to Susan Venker (left).

If there is a reporter that is new to the job or a reporter that you will be working with a lot, you should take the time to get to know them to start building a trusting relationship, now. Getting to know this person on a more personal level, rather than just through emails, will make a world of difference.

2. Know how the reporter likes to be contacted

Contacting reporters through a channel that they do not prefer can lead to missing deadlines and damaged relationships.


3. Sometimes it is best to pitch by phone

Talking on the phone is more personal than email, which will build your relationship even more. It is also much harder to say no to someone on the phone than it is through an email. My supervisors had great relationships with the media, so they could just call and pitch a story, and it was typically well received.

I would not have learned all of these things if I had not had my internship, stepped out of the classroom and immersed myself into media relations.

What insights have you learned about media relations from real-world experience? What tips do you have from past internships?

Susan Venker won the Top Blogger Contest at the Missouri State Chapter of PRSSA. She recently graduated from Missouri State’s public relations program in December 2011. She has been hired as the public relations specialist for CARE Animal Rescue in Springfield, Mo.

1 thought on “Real World Lessons in Media Relations

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      Great post, Susan! As an addendum to your point #1, you should also try to be helpful to the reporter – even when it does not benefit you! For example, you find out they’re writing a story on something you have nothing to do with but you know someone who would make an excellent reference or interviewee … you could introduce the two. Actions like this go a LONG way to building a solid two-way relationship.

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