Why Imagine has a Media Relations Department

The way Imagine is set up is a little different from most other firms. At most smaller agencies, account executives handle all ad writing and public relations services, including all media relations services, for the handful of clients they manage.

At Imagine, however, we feel that having fewer people who engage with the media has several benefits:

• Members of the media know they can contact Tiffannie Bond (our media relations specialist) or me about any client, and we’ll get them what they need as quickly as we can without passing them off.

• There’s a minimum of three people (the account manager as well as Tiffannie and me) at our firm familiar with a client’s news. We all have backup.

• Tiffannie and I can establish much more meaningful relationships with the media because we interact with local and national journalists, editors, producers, program directors and more in some capacity daily or near-daily rather than irregularly. This continuous relationship builds trust both ways, which is also very helpful if we do make a mistake or have to fall on the sword for something.

• The more you work at something, the better you get. Since we established our online newsroom, the ION, in late 2009, we’ve posted 835 news releases. Based on an average department output of about 151 news releases a year, and considering I’ve been with the company since 2005, I can safely estimate I’ve been involved – whether through writing, editing, distribution or some combination thereof – in the execution of around 1,500 news releases here at Imagine.

o In addition, the media relations department handles many non-news release media relations things such as pitches, advisories, media kits, award nominations, columns, crisis communication, facilitation, etc. as well as actual journalistic things such as article writing and photojournalism. Everything we do is based on some kind of newsworthy event, initiative, idea, etc., which equals a lot of experience handling media relations for a lot of different types of subject matters. All this to say: We’ve gotten pretty good at what we do.

• The local media environment is turbulent. Simply keeping up with who’s now working where practically is a full-time job by itself. That statement’s a bit hyperbolic, but not terribly. Tiffannie and I are constantly sharing information on who quit, who started, who moved and who abandoned ship altogether and switched to PR.

o Why this matters: Tiffannie, who hasn’t worked as a journalist in five years, still regularly receives news releases from other local firms. What would the subjects of those releases think if they knew that’s what they were paying for?

• Writing news releases is very different from writing ad copy. Good press releases are written in AP Style using the inverted pyramid format and almost no adjectives; they’re written for the media, not the public. Ad copy is quite different, and even the best writers struggle to master both – especially when it comes to all the different writing rules. Solution: different people who are each masters of their own craft.

So if you’ve ever wondered why our setup is a little different from other agencies, wonder no more! It’s strategic.

Melissa Rothermel Biernacinski serves as director of media relations for Imagine Communications. Email Melissa by clicking here.

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