Teaching Media Relations … Not As Easy As It Seems!

Annie-HofstraUThis year I was honored when Hofstra University asked me to join their faculty as an Adjunct Professor within their Department of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations. I’m currently three classes into teaching this semester of Media Relations to undergraduate students.

This begs the question … what is Media Relations? And, how is this different from Public Relations?

As I explained to my students, Media Relations is the practice of working with the media to achieve the goal of securing interviews and placements for one’s client. The sole job of the Media Relations practitioner is to create unique and compelling pitches for one’s client and then, of course pitch the media. It’s all about figuring out how to position one’s client in the best possible way to grab the attention of the journalist.

The term Public Relations encompasses Media Relations, but Media Relations does not encompass all facets of PR. Public Relations is the umbrella term for all things publicity. Different branches include Media Relations, Crisis Communications, Corporate PR, Government Affairs, Investor Relations & Community Relations.

Think of it this way: if you’re in Media Relations, you can call yourself a publicist and that you work in PR. But, if you’re in PR, you may not necessarily work in Media Relations.

So how can you teach the act of Media Relations? The best, I’m finding, is by actually doing – so in class, I talk to my students about real examples from Pace Public Relations and from the news. I then give them different scenarios to figure out how they would go about publicizing a fictional client to the media.

I got really lucky and have a class filled with smart, engaging students, so I’ve definitely caught the teaching bug now! Who knows, some of these students may even wind up working for Pace Public Relations one day!

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