Media relations: Then and now

Despite my interests and general habits reflecting that of a centenarian, I happen to be the youngest person at Hodges, which not only makes me well versed on the latest TikTok trends but also gives me an edge when it comes to knowing the way media relations works in a predominately virtual world. However, with technology changing every day, I can only begin to imagine how different the media relations landscape was 10 years ago—let alone 40.

Since time machines still don’t exist, I did the next best thing and sat down with one of Hodges’ co-founders and media relations gurus, Josh Dare, for the second installment of Teaming Up—Hodges’ new video series and podcast—to chat about the way the industry looked when he first started his career versus now. Out of the more than four decades that Josh’s career spans, I’ve existed only for about two of them, and although a plethora of practices have changed since Josh first started public relations in the ’80s (like the use of the Rolodex and the invention of the computer), I was quite surprised to discover how many things have remained the same.

Here are a few practices that have withstood the test of time and skills you’ll want to hone if you’re interested in becoming a well-rounded PR professional.

The art of patience 

Even though the way we make media lists and contact reporters has changed drastically over the years, in the end, it all comes down to patience. Whether you’re pulling your contact’s number from your Rolodex or stalking their Twitter account to figure out whether they prefer to be DM’d or emailed, you’ll inevitably find yourself waiting what feels like years for a response. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, patience is an art form, and as a PR professional it will prove to be your best friend. It sounds cliché but good things do come to those who wait—especially when it comes to media relations.

The importance of connection 

When Josh started his first job in public relations around my age in 1979, his career relied on his ability to make meaningful connections with reporters—in real life. Now, a few decades later, personal connections remain important, but the medium has changed. Although technology has opened the profession up to a more introverted breed of PR professionals, the ability to build relationships skillfully and authentically will never go away. And no matter how many emails you try to hide behind, there will come a time where you’ll have to flex your interpersonal muscles and make nice with your contacts. Trust me, your story relies on it.

Pitching your story 

The time of cold calling reporters and spitting your pitch over the phone may be gone, but you still must get creative when it comes to gaining interest in your story. These days, reporters and newsrooms are oversaturated with stories from public relations people just like you with stories just as important. And just like in the 80’s, you’ll need to find an angle that sets your news apart from the rest and hooks interest immediately. Whether you’re pitching a reporter on the phone or brainstorming the least cringe-worthy subject line for your email, highlighting the importance of your story should always remain your top priority.

If you haven’t had a chance to see our Teaming Up episode, check it out! Both the video and podcast series are planned as a limited run, but if the feedback is good, they could become ongoing productions. So, if you like what you see and hear, subscribe to our YouTube channel or subscribe to the podcast in your favorite app.

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Hannah Robinson

Hannah is one of our media and community relations experts, approaching her work with her full heart and soul. In addition to her public relations skills, she is already a seasoned voice artist and admits to a special talent for memorizing song lyrics.

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