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Five Tips for Building Media Relations in the Ag Industry

Do you find yourself pitching stories or products but never having luck gaining coverage? Tired of not getting the media coverage you deserve? You may need to reevaluate your ag media relations strategy.

A core element of any public relations program is media relations, or communication with the media. Therefore, knowing how to develop and manage relationships with media professionals is critical to your public relations success. Like any relationship, working with the media takes time, commitment and a little finesse. Here are five tips that are sure to put your best foot forward when building relationships with the ag media.

Know your audience

There’s a chance you spent hours, maybe days, writing a press release. However, if you sent it to the wrong publications or editors, you’re unlikely to land a place in their next issue. You’ll want to make sure your audience and the publication’s audience align in order to find that “sweet spot.” First, identify the publications you want to target. Does their editorial match the subject matter that you’re pitching? If so, then identify who at that publication would be most interested in the news you’re sharing. Because editors typically cover specific topics, you want to ensure you are reaching out to the best possible contact at that outlet. Do your research. Read through the publication’s content and find who is the best fit. If you are second-guessing your pick, don’t be afraid to ask, “Is there someone else I should be reaching out to?” Remember, quality over quantity!

Ask what they want to write about

Not every editor wants to be served the same dish as the other names on your list. And they all work differently. Some are interested in submitted content while others would prefer to have you pitch a unique story angle or company source. Take the time to ask editors what kind of stories they want to be writing about and what topics they are interested in. Is it a thought-leadership story from a top executive? Or a ride-along on a new combine? Maybe they want to highlight recent technological advancements in agriculture. Once you’ve developed an angle you’re both interested in, you can work on ways to incorporate your client or brand.

Be genuine and respectful

Keep in mind that you are not the only person pitching a particular editor. Just like you, editors have deadlines, meetings, travel and a full inbox. Many editors in the agriculture industry also farm themselves, and their content responsibilities have grown tremendously in recent years. They’re extremely busy and their time is valuable. Always respect their deadlines (hint: it’s usually a matter of days, not months) and what type of format they prefer for pitches, and then, follow through with that format. If you must get an editor on the phone, ask when the best time to call is, get to the point and don’t waste their time.

Step out of the office

Take the relationship to the next level and be where they are. Attend agricultural conferences or writing workshops that your top editors will attend. Better yet, get involved in an organization or committee of common interest to get to know them on a professional level.

If you are in the same city, ask if they would like to meet for lunch — not for a pitch, but to share information about the industry. Or set aside 20 minutes at the next industry event to chat with a reporter over coffee. Being able to put a face to a name will help you get to know each other on a more personal level, which helps the relationship grow.

Media relations is a two-way street

Remember, the relationship between an editor and yourself is a two-way street. If an editor feels like they are being taken advantage of, chances are, you won’t have success pitching your story and they will not want to work with you in the future. Become a fan of their work and read the stories they have published. Sharing their content, on a genuine level, from your social channels is another way to learn about the industry and also show your interest in their work — and not just the stories that involve your brand. Be invested in what they do (and not just how it benefits you or your client).

If you successfully build a relationship with an editor, not only will you achieve your coverage goals but eventually the editor will look to you for contacts and content. As always, your objective with media relations is to become a trusted resource for them. However, just like any relationship, i­t doesn’t grow overnight — building media relations takes time. At Woodruff, we have a team of PR professionals who have decades of experience working with media and influencers in agriculture plus other industries. Let us know if we can help you or your company put your best media relations foot forward.