It is quite scary to look into the future of media and media relations. The only certain statement would be – it is uncertain.

The media has changed a lot in the last decades. The famous American saying “If it is in the newspaper, then it is true” is not necessarily correct anymore. Newspapers are not the only media, first of all, – many platforms and methods are now considered media: social networks, blogs, people. Secondly, media is everywhere – in our smartphones, in our earbuds, on the streets, in cars, trains, and planes.

For the professionals engaged in media relations, routines and approaches change all the time. However, with ever-evolving technology and AI taking more space in our lives, the information, data, media coverage, and audiences should be examined with a fresh eye.

What is Media Relations?

Let’s start with the definition of media relations. Most importantly, let’s underline that media relations is not public relations (PR), although it is an integral part of it. Public relations set relations of the company with the public, the society, and the target audience, while media relations foster ties with media and journalists. It is true that a large part of the public relations profession involves working with the media since it is the preferred and most effective channel for reaching out to the public because audiences view media coverage as more credible than traditional advertising or promotional campaigns.

“Media relations, sometimes also called press relations, refers to the mutually beneficial relationship between journalists and public relations professionals. One of the biggest benefits for journalists is the easy access to story ideas and sources. Reporters spend a large amount of time and effort gathering information to write a story. Collaborating with public relations professionals cuts down on the time needed to look for sources and other information to validate an article’s content. Public relations practitioners benefit from media relations because it secures free publicity and promotion for a client. By using media as a promotional tool, they are able to reach a large audience without high costs,” says Jasmine Roberts in her book ‘Writing for Strategic Communication Industries’ published by the Ohio State University.

Media relations’ classifications and sub definitions are listed below: 

  • Social media relations
  • Sports media relations
  • Entertainment media relations
  • Tech media relations
  • Media relations in marketing

Media Relations Trends Worldwide

The Businesswire’s Media and Media Relations in 2022: Predictions and Trends article combines predictions and observations for the media relations in 2022 and beyond. They envision the rise of hybrid events, domination of data and AI in journalism, continued growth of newsletters and podcasts, more support for the media and journalists among other interesting developments.

The data and AI gave rise to automated journalism; however, as it develops, it also leads to job losses for the newsrooms’ employees worldwide. Another issue that comes with automated journalism is the growing concern over the credibility and reliability of such news shared among the public. In light of this, journalists can shift from news making to news research and analysis. Media relations specialists should view this as an opportunity to foster collaboration with media and journalists by suggesting topics, bringing ideas including those they consider important or needed to be disseminated․ 

Interestingly enough, with the emergence of social platforms that contribute to self-expression media for individuals, journalists will be the bridge between influencers, bloggers, podcasters, and the public audiences. Media relation practitioners will need to explore the needs for insightful, meaningful, and useful media products, be it text, video, voice, multimedia, or other new formats, which might possibly be developed later.

One thing is clear: the media are either interested in a suggested topic or publish it to be paid. Raisa Acloque, Media Relations Specialist from D.C., says that the time has come to get back to 101, or tête-à-tête, public relations, something urged forward by the reality of the COVID era. “Cultivating deeper relationships in 2022 should be focused on personalization and purpose. Both journalists and PR professionals must join forces to craft unique, timely stories and put themselves in their target’s shoes while discovering ways to cut through the noise,” Acloque says and suggests adopting the PESO method.

According to a Forbes article, the media visibility under the PESO model can help both client and agency demonstrate the value of communications programs. The model stands for “paid”, “earned,” “shared,” and “owned” media and represents a modern way for companies to integrate communications efforts while reaching audiences in an effective manner. The PESO model incorporates:

  • Paid media, including advertorial content, sponsored content, social media advertising, and exclusive, membership-based publishing opportunities;
  • Earned media, including free placements from media relations campaigns, such as press releases, bylined articles, “news jacked” placements, investor relations, blogger relations/link building, and word of mouth;
  • Shared media, including organic social media built on curated content, reviews, forums, and other online communities;

Owned media, including wholly-owned content marketing such as blog posts, brand journalism webinars, podcasts, videos, and other visual content.

PESO model also illustrates the value of using analytics, such as click-through rates, opt-ins, media equivalencies, and metrics.

Therefore, it is critical to learn how to develop and manage relationships with media, reporters, and editors. A read by One Pitch suggests ways for building relationships with journalists and states that “a large majority of PR now falls underneath media relations, and studies suggest that earned media is one of the best ways to build trust with an audience.”

Media Relations in Armenia: Any Peculiarities?

In Armenia, media relations as such has the same objectives as everywhere in the world. Yet, it is also affected by country realities, specific policies to follow, and concerns to address:
  • Media relations here are mostly paid: it happened because of the telecommunications, banking, and online gambling advertisement and media buying aggressive practices setting roots since 2005. It is understandable. Why would the media be interested in writing content for companies or communication agencies if they can publish their prepared pieces and get paid for it?
  • Media is politicized, thus, less interested in everything else; consequently, it is challenging for media relations specialists to find topics that may be published in the media as earned pieces.
  • Media is understaffed: the media companies do not have as many camera operators as they need, they usually don’t have beat reporters, their journalists fulfill two or three obligations within one job, and they are less enthusiastic about anything diverse, new, more energy-consuming.

If building a media relations strategy is based on the above-mentioned issues, we may say that media relations specialists of the future should do the research part of the journalists’ job along with their own. They should deliver information and media products to the mass media that requires minimum intervention and effort. They should also make true, not biased, relations with the media representatives to have a clear understanding of their needs and standpoints in order not to spend energy on steps that don’t work.

As a result, the media relations of the future seem to require even more hard work, and we, communications industry representatives, should get started today!