Building Media Relations

Written by Nathalie Banker, PR director at Dermalogica

How often have you heard people say they need PR? We seem to casually use the word, as though it were a new flashy item to possess like a pair of designer shoes. But if we stop to think about what these two words mean – public relations – we can then determine why it is needed to promote business and how it can achieved.

Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or organization and the public. In the case of a spa owner, it is the act of disseminating information about their space to the local community and consumers. There are several ways to reach the consumer through PR, including hosting consumer events, executing grassroots marketing activities, establishing industry influencers, and engaging with consumers via various social media platforms. But one of the most effective and cost effective vehicles used to communicate messages to the end consumer is via the media, also known as media relations.

Building media relationships is a critical aspect to public relations as the media serve as the gateway to the public. But where to start? Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when developing relationships with local media.
Put on a journalist’s hat. The best press releases and pitches are ones that make the journalist’s job easier by answering all of the basic questions like who, what, when, where, why, and how. A short and concise press release has a much higher chance in being read than one that contains fluff and no facts.
qRemember your call to actions! With any press release, always ask yourself about the goal. What are the call to actions you would like the journalist to mention for their readers to learn or do? Perhaps it is to attend an event you are hosting. If so, how can consumers learn more about the event? Is it to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter? Include your handle information. Is it to receive a new treatment offering? Include how the consumer can learn more about the treatment and book an appointment. Your call to actions need to be clearly stated and easy to do. This way you can successfully measure the results (like the number of treatments booked or percentage of increase in Facebook likes).
Do your homework! Read local publications, including magazines, newspapers, online news sites and blogs, listen to local radio stations, and watch local television news programs. It is important to know which editors and reporters are covering the stories and managing the sections where you want your business to be featured. If there is a lifestyle editor in your local magazine who features local spas, reach out; let her know you are a fan and invite her to experience a treatment. By letting the writers know that you follow their work, they may be more inclined to respond to your outreach efforts and be interested in hearing what you have to say.
Stay in touch. Follow up after reaching out. If you have new services or promotions, let local media know. If local journalists are on social media, follow them. If they decide to visit your space and receive a treatment, follow up with a handwritten note. Relationships take work to create and maintain. If you are successful in building these relationships, the mentions in the press are sure to soon follow.
Be timely! Beyond promoting seasonal treatments, what else can be done to make business timely? Perhaps it is creating special promotions around Valentine’s and Mother’s Day or donating services during the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Provide a gift for anyone who casts a vote on Election Day. Host an event in September for National Skin Care Awareness Month. Stories that are timely and relevant to what is going on with the consumer will have a greater chance in being picked up by the media.
Build strategic brand partnerships. If you are a health and wellness establishment, build relationships with local fitness centers, healthy dining spots or nutritionists. Hosting events with likeminded brands will help draw the right crowd to your space and entice the media to cover your event.

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