Mastering Media Relations in a World of Diminishing Press Opportunties


Media relations skills are what employers want most from PR professionals, according to the Digital Readiness Report.

But it takes a lot more than luck to land on the front page of a major print newspapers or the interview chair on broadcast television.

It takes solid PR skills, communications skills and media relations strategies, and that’s what this podcast is about: building your media relations skills.

The trouble is, newspaper and network TV audiences have been declining steadily for the last 7 years. And with lay-offs hitting newsrooms around the globe, the news hole has shrunk and there are fewer reporters to pitch.  

Those that remain are working longer hours and under more pressure than ever before. What communications skills are needed to capture their attention?

Enter Michael Smart, a media relations coach who specializes in teaching those skills to PR professionals.

Michael is National News Director at Brigham Young University (BYU) and, in this episode, he shares his media relations skills top tips in an effort to help public relations specialists adapt to the dramatic changes in today’s news media landscape, and the challenge and opportunities those changes require us to make to our media relations techniques.

He outlines specific communication skills and techniques that can be used to build greater publicity exposure in a competitive news environment. In addition to his work with BYU, Michael is an independent media relations trainer and coach and a top-rated speaker at the PR-industry’s biggest conferences.


01:26 Dramatic changes in the media landscape can make it harder to connect with mainstream journalists than in the past, but once that barrier is cleared, it can actually be easier to place positive news than it used to be. But the basics, like press release writing skills, are still critically important.

02:18 Michael shares media relations techniques for landing positive media placements, including researching the five most meaningful media outlets, searching the archives of those publications for related stories and providing a journalist with credible third-party sources.

05:51 Today’s high media turnover can make it difficult to develop relationships with journalists, especially for PR professionals with clients across a range of industries. Michael shares tactics that can increase the chances for success.

07:50 PR research is done and you’ve identified the right journalist for a story. How do you decide how best to approach the journalist (phone call, email, tweet, Facebook post, etc.?) Michael shares his specific strategies as well as a few mistakes that drive journalists up the wall.

13:47 Media relations techniques to employ when a client announcement isn’t newsworthy—two strategies to employ.

17:41 The three variables that media relations experts can control (creativity, media relationships and perseverance) and a few they can’t. Which PR skills matter most.

21:26 Despite the decline of the traditional news media, there has been a sharp rise in the readership of newspaper content through the internet and mobile phones. Media relations skills will continue to be important to employers and clients.

23:44 Media relations are important to today’s PR professionals, yet the best communication strategies rely on sound social media skills, public affairs skills and even advertising skills.

27:25 End

These podcast show notes were written and optimized by Sandra Burrowes, Senior Public Affairs Specialist at Mayo Clinic.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Our Podcasts