As any PR professional knows, relationships are key building blocks to securing coverage – particularly, good coverage – in target publications. A good relationship with a reporter can ensure a pitch email is opened in the first place, attention is given to product announcements, and meetings are secured at trade shows and other industry events. A vital role of a PR professional’s job is establishing a relationship, navigating how to keep the relationship strong, and leveraging the relationship to help journalists who are “friends” of the company to write great stories.
But sometimes, the relationship isn’t always so simple. Sometimes, journalists don’t necessarily understand the role of the PR team.
Recently, I encountered this situation. Before working with Voxus, a client of mine did not have strong PR representation and reporters reached out directly to extremely busy marketing and business leaders for information about the company. Not only did they ask technical questions to help wrap up product stories (which is common), but they dove deeper, often probing into the product road map. As we’ve worked with the client, many of the reporters that previously had direct access to the company executives are frustrated they now have to go through a third party to access information.
So why is it important to establish the role of PR as a gatekeeper if a reporter prefers to go to the company directly? Here are three reasons:
- It’s our top priority: Busy company leaders are stretched thin with keeping their business healthy and productive, and understandably, it’s not their top priority to make sure media are aware of all the good things happening. That’s our job. By having a PR gatekeeper, we make sure that press inquiries are responded to as quickly as possible, all materials are delivered and that journalists get what they need to meet their deadlines. Meeting media needs is our top priority, and we make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
- Setting boundaries is in our blood: To make a juicier story, many journalists will push the envelope, asking for secret details about financials, future products or unsavory perspectives on competitors. PR is here to make sure nothing slips, companies remain publicly competitive and that the relationship remains positive when a boundary needs to be set.
- Consistency: Often, journalists will go to multiple business leaders for answers on various questions. A PR gatekeeper makes sure that all answers are consistent, messaging is on-point and journalists get relevant news.
Having a positive, communicative relationship between journalists and a company is important, but a PR gatekeeper helps keep the relationship locked down.