Every company’s corporate communication, media relations and public relations department are responsible for managing its relationships with the media.
Originally, media relations were based on relationships with reporters that were built up over a long period of time. Public relations professionals built up large files of information about reporters over meetings.
Today, media relations is a more scientific process based on an analysis of the reporters' previous work, their point of view on a particular topic and their previous interactions.
Corporations try to manage relationships with the media both for traditional publications and television channels as well as social media outlets by creating news, known as a proactive approach. Corporations can also distribute press releases or respond to calls when reporters are developing stories, known as a reactive approach.
The measurement of media relations has become a business in itself as corporations buy in-depth analysis of stories on particular topics over time to determine the overall effectiveness of their media relations activities.
Public relations firms are often hired by corporation’s to manage their relationships with the media when the organisation does not either have the resources or the interest in managing its relationships with the media on their own.
Let us take for instance, a large global energy company who wanted to show the world how it had become more focused on the environment in the wake of the BP oil spill crisis in 2010. As a result, the company invited reporters to look at its wind farms and hired a public relations firm to manage the visits and position the firm as a “green” company.
Executives were given extensive training by the public relations firm to help them tell their story most effectively and to generate interest on the part of reporters. Several weeks later, stories started to appear in a variety of outlets depicting the company as an environmentally aware firm.