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Ask the Expert: A Look Into Media Relations as the Heart of PR

The art of Public Relations (PR) and Media Relations stands as a linchpin for businesses and individuals striving to cultivate a positive image and foster meaningful connections. 

But what really goes on behind the scenes? What does it take to master the dance between the public, media outlets, and the stories that need to be told? 

To pull back the curtain on this dynamic world, we sat down with an industry veteran boasting over two decades of hands-on experience. As M2.0 Communications’ Media Relations Manager, Shyla’s insight offers a rare and illuminating perspective on the evolving nexus of PR and media relations. 

While working in media relations for as long as she has, Shyla has worked on projects like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in 2015, the first-ever automated Philippine elections back in 2010, and IKEA’s recent local launch. 

Along with this, she’s also handled clients from both public and private industries, such as health, lifestyle, hospitality, and consumer technology, among others.

This piece covers her own unique experiences, insights, advice, tips, and tricks for navigating a life in media relations. Essentially–all the basics you need to know according to an industry professional.

What do you think of how the PR landscape is currently evolving? 

Here’s the thing: a decade or two ago, we only had all-print publications. That includes a few broadsheets, along with tons of tabloids. Then, there were the weekly women’s magazines, plus the lifestyle magazines which you’ll normally find in salons and parlors. 

Basically, twenty years ago, it was all in print. But as we moved forward and evolved, online avenues for PR and media relations started popping up. This is especially true thanks to the pandemic, which made things like blogs more important than ever. 

This is important to consider when you look at the fact that the PR landscape has been evolving to meet the needs of the audience. That is, you need to ensure that things reach the audience to begin with. That’s why I think publications, bloggers, and online news are essential. 

In the past, if you lived away from the city, then you wouldn’t know about any news. What’s trending, what’s the latest–you wouldn’t know any of it unless you had a radio or a TV, and even then, not everything was featured on there. 

But now, almost everybody has a mobile phone and access to online news, bloggers, vloggers, and TikTok influencers. It helps the brand reach the audience faster. So, the way the PR landscape has been evolving is very positive for not just the brands, but for everybody! Spreading the news and reaching out to others is easy now, you never have to go too far to make sure people know what’s happening.

What’s your priority when it comes to media relations? 

Media Relations should be personalized. For example, if your client is in the health industry, you wouldn’t tap a writer who isn’t into health. That’s the base-level explanation for it. 

But on a deeper level, what does that mean? For me, it means making friends. I study what tickles their senses, what their expertise is, and what they like. Which specific industries do they write about, and what angles do they want to write about? That’s what being personalized means. 

It can even go deeper than that. For instance: are they married, do they have kids? What are their strengths, and what are their weaknesses? Things like that! But more importantly, part of being personal is to treat them with respect. PR and the media work hand in hand. But just because they’re benefitting too doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show them respect or should stop treating them with decency. 

Knowing people in the industry in a personal way and treating them with respect is more than just for the job, too. Of course, there are benefits. For instance, the other day, I heard one blogger say “We’re leaning more towards [M2] because of Shyla.” So, I don’t see this as just a job anymore–I see it as my life. That’s why I need to be friendly, I need to be nice, and I need to know them. It comes from a genuine place of interest, and after working for this long, I can say that I know their hearts and souls now, too. 

So, that’s what it means to be personalized: to give respect. 

“Always ask yourself: If you were to put yourself in their shoes, what would make you smile?”

Keeping that in mind will help you make better connections. 

Is forming a connection harder now with the online landscape? 

No. It’s easier now because of social media. There are more opportunities for PR popping up because of that–it’s so much faster now. 

Now, it’s become a matter of how you want to present your brand or client, what headline you want, and what works as an effective angle. 

So, it’s less about reaching out. It’s more about how big, how deep, and how important your story is–because there are so many stories now. 

For me, the hardest thing is really the competition, and thinking about how you’ll present your angle. How do you present that you’re more important than your competitors? It becomes a matter of your PR strategy, not a matter of how to reach out to everyone else to spread the story. 

It’s hard, but as long as you can tap into current trends, reaching out isn’t a problem anymore.

What are some of the common misconceptions that you’ve noticed about working in media relations? 

For those who don’t know PR, they think I’m part of the media. That’s one thing.

Another thing is thinking that the job is easy. Yes, it is easy in a sense, but building relationships takes commitment. It isn’t quick. I look at people’s personalities, I see the kind of person they are. It’s heavy; to talk to people every day, different people in different situations. 

You really have to know who you need to talk to, and know it instantly–that’s the best way to get forward. If you’re in media relations, you need to know your story, you need to know who’s too busy to take it at the moment, and who’s got a light enough load. 

“Basically, you need to know your story, and who is the best person to tell that story.”

It’s a very enjoyable job, but you need to learn and know how to invest your time and sincerity. Even your weekends, even your time with your family and kids. It’s all to build relationships that foster trust, which is what matters the most as a media relations manager; earning people’s trust so that they can trust you right back. 

M2.0 Communications is a Philippines-based PR agency that specializes in business, technology, and lifestyle communications. We offer a range of PR services including crisis communications, stakeholder engagement, and influencer management. Visit our case studies page to learn more about the brands we collaborate with.

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