I attended a fun and insightful workshop on ‘Media Skills’ run by Sonia Zavesky last month.

The workshop began on the premise that, “With more than 1000 PR firms in Australia, newsrooms are literally being bombarded with media releases”, so how do you add value to your story, media release, pitch or announcement?

Is your media release at the bottom of the pile?

Sonia offered a string of pearls of wisdom in a very succinct and very entertaining way. The workshop produced some great insight into how public relations people should and shouldn’t interact with the media and Sonia illustrated this beautifully, purely through her interaction with the PR professionals in the room. There was a lot of laughter when discussing journalist’s attitudes towards public relations and their view of the inherent and often unquestioned PR practices.

It seemed that the hostility PR’s sometimes experience from journalists is a result of a journos experience of PR faux pas in the past and this combined with tight deadlines, results in minimal patience. A somewhat justifiable situation, but one that is pretty unnerving when you’re a PR professional presenting a pitch.

We played around with different approaches, practiced a few hypothetical pitches and discovered the importance of getting straight to the point. It’s crucial to have a considered and pre planned approach when dealing with the media and optimise the small window of opportunity you are presented with. All of which seems logical to anyone in PR, but I think an effective way of communicating with media is to really consider things from their perspective. Is your story really something they would be interested in? What will they want to know? And can you provide them with all the relevant information in a timely and professional way?

Sometimes PR professionals can feel pressured from their clients to send out more and more media releases that aren’t entirely relevant or newsworthy. Quality over quantity is the key. Believe in the story you are pitching and the process should become easier not to mention more successful!

Have an aim and angle and know your audience. And don’t be scared to break some of the unsaid rules of PR when it comes to things like the rigid format of a media release in order to get your story told.

@gillasbury