PINs workshop: Building Effective Media Relations Strategies

September 28, 2013 – University of Toronto

“It provide me great insight in how to use media into our favor. It was an amazing workshop” – Participant

On September 28th, at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, the PINs team welcomed Andrea Ellison of Andrea Ellison Communications, to talk about building effective media relations strategies.

Andrea’s presentation was divided into two parts: a morning session that addressed the importance of media relations, and an afternoon workshop that explored how to build and evaluate an effective media relations strategy. The associations in attendance were asked to consider their own goals, key messages, target audiences, media lists, and tools for reaching their audiences.

Guest speaker:

Andrea Ellison – Andrea Ellison Communications


Why bother with the media? As Andrea explained, the media is a vehicle for carrying your message to your audience. When your organization is featured in the media, it not only keeps your stakeholders and the general public informed, but it is also an opportunity to tell your side of the story and influence the larger discussion. When media relations is done well, it improves your organization’s relationships and increases its exposure.

Part of effective media relations is maintaining good relationships with journalists.  Andrea spoke to the reality of those working in the media today—tight deadlines, understaffing, and pressure to find content—and how to make your story stand out.
What constitutes newsworthy content? Your story should cover or involve at least one of the following: a change that affects or interests your target audience; a new, interesting trend; content relevant to your audience; timely subject matter; a human interest component; entertainment value; and controversy.

When pitching your story, Andrea recommended focusing on the following:

  • Relevance – Get the right people to care
  • Comprehension – Get people to understand
  • Credibility – Get people to believe
  • Urgency – Get people to act

Many thanks to the participants and to our presenter, Andrea Ellison.


  • Be patient with journalists! Appreciate that they are short on time and may not have a strong background on your organization or story. Remember that effective media relations relies on good relationships.
  • Media Relations is both an art and a science: be creative, but make sure you create a strategy and measure your results.
  • Base your strategy on research and analysis.
  • Set objectives that are results-oriented, measurable, specific, realistic, time-bounded and prioritized.
  • Build and maintain a media list of contacts. Consider all types of media: print, radio, television, and social.
  • Ensure that your key messages are concise, clear, easily understood, and quotable!