By Melissa A Vitale
As a publicist, some of the greatest people I know are journalists and editors, and I frame it like that because media is a rare industry where focusing on your social life can be a valuable part of business. Most of the editors and journalists I work with regularly have become close friends and we have both become vital sources for each other: a publicist provides new products, events, expert sources and stories that audiences will be interested in, and often, the journalists will respond with a great story that thrills a client. Many times, Journalists come to Publicists when sourcing experts or products for an article because one publicist can have many sources under each topic.
Building strong professional relationships are just like building strong personal relationships; they take time, dedication, and personal and often emotional investment. This is why they so often bleed from business to casual which adds to passion of project of media relations (imagine regularly getting to work with your best friend!!). Today, some of my closest friends are the first journalists that I worked with when I started MAVPR and the result, beyond an empowered friendship, is also a number of stories we worked on side-by-side.
Media professionals who collaborate together often have the benefit of being able to help the other out when needed.
With my proximity to the sex, cannabis and business industries, even if someone in my client base is not a fit for journalist's specific desired source or product, there's a pretty high chance that I will know someone in the realm who can speak to that. If I am the lynchpin between a need and a solution, the reformed Girl Scout in me will always help out.
A handful of my non-media friends, without having ever paid for my services, have had their names in top tier outlets as a result of my network of press needing commentary my clients couldn't provide. This happens every-so-often and is a great way to network my services by turning incoming press-requests that I wouldn't normally be able to help with into opportunities for my friends to share examples of my work. For that added reason, it's always beneficial to connect a journalist and a non-client source at the journalist's request.
When the opportunity is reversed however, it could be devastating to a business.
Often times, I'm asked by a friend to pass along a media contact. Depending on the need and reason (and person asking) I may have no problem doing so, but those are very special circumstances. Even rarer, I even offer to connect someone because I think there will be synergy between the two.
Other times I'm asked to connect people for hopes (and potential) of a full feature, with absolutely no benefit or compensation for me. For my business, this means that someone benefits from the years of relationships I built without having to do any of the work or pay any fee. To my company, its energy spent without compensation. For the person asking for the connection, along with free ad value averaging over $7,000, feature coverage from my relationships could lead to brand recognition, massive investor opportunities or increasing incoming sales or appointments. I did all the work, while someone else gets all the reward.
Many times, journalists want to keep working with the publicist, so I'm looped into the story, resulting in hours of unpaid work.
If done too often, this is not only bringing the value of my services down, but also ruining my credibility in media: giving away contact information to anyone without permission is a major no-no in today's digital world, and can be a costly mistake for publicists.
Just like you wouldn't give your friend's personal information out to a stranger not knowing what they could do with it, I can't give out the personal contact information just because you asked for it. I can't tell if you're the person who will spam their email 16 times a day, drop my name even though I don't recommend or work with the brand, or who else you will give it to. If I were to give out emails in high frequency--which is how often I'm asked for them-- I could potentially gain a reputation as the publicist who gives away emails. And publicists don't have the best reputation in the media industry as it is. In a worst-case-scenario, the contacts who feel violated remove me from their email lists or fail to inform me of updated contact info. Giving away information can burn a publicists relationship with a journalist and that could be detrimental for business. Asking for one contact may seem like nothing, but if one contact is the source of many secured placements overtime, doing anything to offend them (like sharing their personal contact info) can be a violation of trust, friendship and working relationship.
Not only that, because I work with smaller brands only seeking limited engagement, there can be seasons of heavy turnover. Seeing non-clients reaping the benefits of my hard-earned relationships while I'm working double-time is more discouraging to my business than the "friends" making the request will ever know.
I'm not always looking at my bottom line, but I do live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, something that adds to my value thanks to my proximity to so many media hubs. With high turnover and even higher rent, at some point, I need to cut out money-wasting practices and that can be connecting people because they want my help but do not want to invest in my services.
Those interested in putting their names in front of the wonderful journalists and editors I work with daily can submit a request form to initiate a proposal and on-boarding process or schedule a consultation session.
MAVPR has a number of budget friendly packages for those looking to dip their toe into public relations.
Curious about whether you or your brand are ready for public relations? Schedule a consultation!
To learn more about what we specialize in, please visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/about.html
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups across plant and intimate wellness