I attended last week’s PRSA-NCC panel “How to Leverage Tomorrow’s News Today and Reach Communications Goals.” It was an interesting session that promised a lot of tactical secrets, but in the end — though those things were shared — the big take away was focus on relationships with the media.

In that sense, the lessons learned reminded us that the trick to media relations remains building strong ties with those that cover our respective sectors. Relationships remain the north star of PR.

The panelists were well experienced in timely news issues (from left to right in the above picture):

  • Nancy White, director, AAA Public Relations
  • Liz Garman, VP of communications, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology
  • Linda Rozett, VP for communications, American Petroleum Institute

And they offered some good tips on how to leverage relationships in the social media era. The primary method was to use current tools like Twitter to interact with journalists. These tools can augment traditional methods of relationship building. Amplify journalists’ posts and dialog with them. Do this before a big issue arises. When the time comes, the ability to interact with reporters in your sector online and on the back channel is invaluable.

Also use social content (videos, etc.) to help get the word out and validate your message. Some of the panelists were down on data visualization as a tactic but, nevertheless, having relevant data (statistics) and the use of graphics were repeated over-and-over again as must haves.

Finally, all three panelists emphasized readiness as critical for success. Have your story and data prepared, and be sure to have spokespeople trained and available on demand.

In all, it was strong PRSA event, and I look forward to my next one.

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