PR Training

Persuasive Media Relations: The Key to Reaching All Your Publics

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She explained that most of us “get” the concept of social media but don’t really know how to apply it. We should ask ourselves, “Where is my audience,” and “How am I engaging?” In the case of Twitter, we should keep in mind that it’s not just what we see, but what we don’t see that matters.

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This PRSA International Conference Workshop was led by Rebecca Rose-Markarian, APR, and my BurrellesLuce colleague, Johna Burke

The session began with Markarian demonstrating a real-life example of a successful media relations campaign — for the 2007 Jaguar XK. Rebecca discussed the details behind the public relations strategy and why it was successful. The takeaways include some of the same items I included in a recent blog post, along with some great additions:

  • Do your homework; research the outlet and the journalist.
  • Role play your pitch.
  • Give the journalist an angle; offer multiple exclusives if you can, each with a different slant.
  • Be human — respectful, courteous, professional.
  • Make the media’s job easy.
  • Don’t take rejection personally.
  • Use social media to keep in touch.

Burke began her portion by talking about some tips for protecting your brand’s name in cyberspace, advising everyone to check their companies’ names on and (You can view her presentation slides here.)

She explained that most of us “get” the concept of social media but don’t really know how to apply it. We should ask ourselves, “Where is my audience,” and “How am I engaging?” In the case of Twitter, we should keep in mind that it’s not just what we see, but what we don’t see that matters.

She went on to talk about the impact of social media on everything from printed publications, Web content vs. premium Web content, and byliners to bloggers. One takeaway that really stuck out in my mind was that you must write for communication first and optimization second. We all want traffic and to be read; however, being misleading to get it will only backfire.

Finally, she touched on a point that Markarian mentioned — that we should engage journalists via social media (IF that’s where they hang out and how they want to receive communication/pitches). Read their articles and blogs and comment. 

What would you add?

Tressa Robbins brought 15 years of diversified business, communications and public relations experience to the company when she joined BurrellesLuce in 1998. In the decade since, she has applied her extensive sales and marketing know-how to reinforcing BurrellesLuce’s position among public relations professionals. Robbins currently serves as vice president-Media Contacts, overseeing sales and client services for BurrellesLuce’s popular digital database. She has been active in public relations and regional business groups, served on the Fair Saint Louis Marketing/PR Committee, and is a current member of the PRSA St. Louis Chapter. Connect with Tressa on Twitter.

For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.

About the author

Tressa Robbins


  • I have to tell you: I got up and walked out of this session. The Jaguar case study was making me sick to my stomach, and I watched several others (nearly two dozen) walk out within 2-3 minutes before or after I did. Several of them had smirks on their faces.

    As I understand it, Jaguar, through the PR efforts, sent auto journalists on expense paid week-long trips to South Africa and Mexico to test drive the cars. And the PowerPoint slides touted the level of positive media coverage they received, and even glowing thank you notes from reporters saying it was the best week of their lives (paraphrasing).

    Am I off base here, or was that a blatant demonstration of lavish gifts (they didn’t keep the Jag of course)? In fact, it feels like it even bordered on pay-for-play. Perhaps this is standard for the auto industry PR, but our PRSA Code of Ethics provisions state that PR professionals should “Preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring that gifts are nominal, legal, and infrequent.”

    Maybe the rest of the presentation was chock-full of great info, but I was struggling with the framing so much that I couldn’t sit through such a glowing “case study” of good PR practices. I was appalled that this was being presented, and now I’m disappointed to see it covered further in this blog.

    I suppose what your coverage does do is allow for some discussion among peers. I’d be interested in what others think. Am I off base? Am I misinformed about the details and need an education on the campaign? Anyone else reading this who also walked out? If so, same reason?

  • Jamaison,

    Thank you for your candid feedback on the presentation. I’m sorry you took issue with how the case study was done, but I do want to clarify a few things. First, this is how it is done in the auto industry. Given that there is a limit to the number of vehicles any manufacturer has to get a large number of reporters through it is most cost effective to bring them to one location to do the testing. Yes, these do tend to be rather expensive affairs, but the cost of delivering each of them a car for a loan would be astronomical in comparison. All journalists are free to write what they think and not once have I personally or anyone I work with cut off a journalist for saying something negative about the vehicle. They also are always encouraged (and 99% do) disclose that the trip was provided by Jaguar. We always adhere to each publications rules when it came to inviting media and where required offered press rates. This was the case study I actually presented to get my APR and I believe it does adhere to all the rules of ethics. There is full disclosure at every turn.

    Also, while it may seem like a slam dunk – driving a sports car in Africa – the competition to get the top media to come and give you great coverage is intense with almost 80 new cars launched each year. Therefore, our relationships with these media are key and they are on these trips all year long so being sure we make effective so we can get the coverage we need is what is key.

    My intent to was make it clear that we had to rethink what we’d been doing in the past in terms of our media relations to get better coverage for our clients and get coverage in the right publications at the right time. My focus was intended to be more on working with the media directly and how to create win-win situations between PR professionals and the media.

    I will definitely take your thoughts into consideration for future presentations to improve them for attendees. Again, thank you for your honest feedback.

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