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It's the Law

By Mark LaVigne, APR

After working more than 14 years as a media relations consultant and five years as a journalist, I've come to the conclusion there are six basic laws that govern successful media relations. They are:

  • content
  • context
  • organizational access
  • proactive response
  • relationships with the news media
  • luck

Content must be tightly written, with a focus on the facts and an avoidance of hyperbole. It must be constructed in an electronic format and delivered to the news media on an electronic platter. The inundation journalists suffer, plus continued merger mania in the news business, means they have very little time to research or sift through (useless) information to mine the news.

Context is placing your organization's news within the ebb and flow of the daily news diet. It also includes timing, especially in relation to what else is going on.

Organizational access is very important. The news media operate on a much tighter schedule for everything compared to regular business responsiveness. A radio journalist needs the information or interview requested that hour, not the next day. Television needs it the by the same afternoon, at the latest. And print overnight!

Proactive response is essential in creating a two-way flow of information between the organization and news media. The more proactive an organization is over time, the less severe the reaction by the media if there's a crisis. If the news media know your organization as open and honest through years of access, then the worst part of a crisis (what are they hiding?) may be mitigated.

Relationship with the news media goes hand-in-hand with access. Over time, if your organization and PR practitioners have been open and honest with the media, that access and honesty go a long way in raising your organization's credibility and position on a journalist's priority list. You must keep in perspective the amount of information bombarding the news media these days!

When all five of the above concepts are integrated, over time, success will be attained with the art and science of media relations. However, always leave room for luck.

Speaking of luck. I would love to hear from public relations personnel about any "good luck" rituals you are in the habit of practicing. We all know how athletes have their rituals. How about PR practitioners? Do you carry a rabbit's foot? Do you schedule events for a particularly "lucky" day or time? Let me know…

Mark LaVigne, APR, is President of the Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto) and runs a media relations and media coaching firm based in Aurora, Ontario. He can be reached at (905) 841-2017 or

See also:
Effective Media Relations