As we all know, COIVD-19 has drastically changed the way we are able to interact, connect, and communicate with one another. Aside from personal social interactions, new pandemic practices of quarantining and social distancing have had a huge impact on fostering media relations for both journalists and PR pros alike. Still, these relationships are pivotal in connecting and telling great stories. Nevertheless, there has never been a better time to rethink how we connect and move stories forward. For more background on the importance of media relations, check out our All-Inclusive Guide to Media Relations.
In a recent talk with a close PR professional, Whitney Wells of BAM The Agency, OnePitch COO and Co-Founder, Jered Martin, was fascinated by her story about fostering relationships because of coronavirus. She told Jered how she, in the midst of lockdown and quarantine, had started an old-school pen pal relationship with one of her journalist contacts. Jered found it fascinating how it was the social isolation of quarantine that inspired them to start sending each other handwritten notes back and forth through the good ole postal service.
This story sparked questions about how to turn this sullen experience into one that can lay a foundation for strong media relations. As mentioned in our blog, The Three Main Objectives of Media Relations, media relations are more than a transactional experience. It is about authentically investing your efforts to establish long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
After posing those questions, we went on social media to ask:
How are you building relationships with journalists during quarantine? #prrequest
— Jered Martin (@JmoMonk) October 6, 2020
We loved the responses we received and wanted to highlight why they are valuable. Firstly, Michelle Garrett, freelance writer and PR consultant, gifted us with a response saying:
Social media is the way to build relationships with journalists, pandemic or no. Follow, like, engage – build the relationships *before* you need to them.
— Michelle Garrett (@PRisUs) October 6, 2020
As Michelle emphasizes, fostering authentic connections and relationships BEFORE you need them is key. No matter the distance, social media allows us to reach and personally connect with one another anywhere at any time. Using social media to find and build rapport remotely is one of the biggest shifts we can take advantage of during times like these.
Rachel Brenke, entrepreneur and speaker, extends this idea beyond just journalists tweeting:
Same for sources. I had sooooo many never interact with me until pandemic hit and needed legal quotes. I did as many as I could but I went with existing relationships first!
— Rachel Brenke (@RachelBrenke) October 6, 2020
Whether you are a journalist, PR professional, or anyone else, COVID has shown us that connection is not a matter of distance and location, but of time and intention. As long as you are able to be authentic and genuine, there is no reason COVID-19 should stop you from creating and maximizing opportunities that are created through other mediums of communication.
Hannah Estes, Media Relations Specialist at TZ Health says it best:
Genuine interactions over email and twitter. I think it’s really important to be real and be kind right now when so many folks are longing to interact with others.
— Hannah Estes (@Hannah_TZhealth) October 6, 2020
Overall, it is important to remind ourselves that we are not experiencing these personal and professional shifts and hurdles in silos. Though not a joyous event, COVID-19’s impact has been one that transcends age, class, profession, etc. As resourceful storytellers, we can use this common experience to unite and connect, to interact with others on this common ground, and nurture these interactions to grow into a future beyond COVID-19.
Know you need to step up your media relations game, but don’t know where to start? We have you covered with our blog, How to Build an Effective Media Relations Strategy! In the blog, we break down helpful tips, tricks, and industry advice on crafting and executing the best media relations strategy suited for you. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay in the know on our latest news and blog releases!