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Strategic Media Relations in the Age of Information

An Evidence-Based Approach

Dustin W. Supa and Lynn M. Zoch

Publication Date - 20 January 2020

ISBN: 9780190844271

304 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

An evidence-based, real-world perspective on the contemporary practice of media relations


Grounded in history, theory, and empirical research studies, Strategic Media Relations in the Age of Information: An Evidence-Based Approach presents a clear and accessible overview of the modern practice of media relations. It focuses primarily on the development and strategic execution of media relations programs across a wide variety of organizations.


  • Explains the "what, why, and how" of media relations more fully than any other text, uniquely showing students how to measure the impact of their work
  • Prepares students for successful careers in media relations with coverage of practical topics, including assessing newsworthiness; managing objectives, goals, strategies, and expectations from organizations and journalists; tactics used within a strategic media relations plan; and proactive measurement and evaluation
  • Asks students to imagine themselves in difficult real-world situations and to strategize possible solutions through "Challenge Case" features
  • Includes commentary from a range of practitioners at all levels--from a range of industries--that gives students insight into how media relations practices work in real life

About the Author(s)

Dustin W. Supa is Senior Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Public Relations at Boston University. His research focuses on media relations, the use of visual persuasive devices, the history of public relations, and the application of modern critical social theory to public relations.

Lynn M. Zoch is Professor Emerita and was the founding Director of the School of Communication at Radford University. Her research involves the intersection of research and theory with the practice of public relations, and focuses on media relations, nonprofit public relations, and organizational legitimacy.


"Strategic Media Relations in the Age of Information provides a detailed discussion of media relations topics that are often glossed-over in other texts: what's newsworthy and what's not, managing a supervisor's expectations, and how to be a responsible steward to your story. Real-world and readable, it will be appreciated by both students and professors."--Judith Crenshaw, Virginia Commonwealth University

"Strategic Media Relations in the Age of Information speaks to today's students. It uses current examples that students can connect to and replicate in professional practice."--Tamara L. Gillis, Elizabethtown College

"This is a very clear, modern, and engaging book that captures everything you need to teach in your media relations course in one textbook."--Alexandra Merceron, Columbia University School of Professional Studies

Table of Contents

    Author Bios

    1. What Does It Mean to Practice Media Relations?
    Defining Media Relations
    What Media Relations Does Not Mean
    Media Relations Is Not Publicity
    Media Relations Is Not Public Relations
    Media Relations Is Not Media Training
    Not Everyone is Capable of Conducting a Media Relations Campaign
    Social Media Has Not Made Media Relations Obsolete
    What Does It Mean to Practice Media Relations?
    Why Are We Concerned With Effective Media Relations?
    Media Relations Creates Awareness
    Media Relations Creates Information Credibility
    Media Relations Is Cost-Effective
    Effective Media Relations Can Mitigate Crises
    Sustained Media Relations Can Impact Audience Attitudes
    Media Relations Lets You Tell the Story of an Organization
    The Plan Moving Forward
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case
    2. Media Relations in the Era of Information
    3. The Marketplace of Information
    Paid, Owned, Shared, and Earned Media
    Why Are We so Concerned With Media Relations--or Earned Media?
    The Value of Media Relations to an Organization
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case
    Theory in Media Relations
    What Makes a Theory a "Good" Theory?
    The Goal of a Theory Is to Explain
    The Best Theories Make Connections
    A "Good" Theory Will Help Make Those Connections for Us
    Why Theory Is Important to Media Relations
    Theories That Help Structure Media Relations

    Two-Step Flow Theory
    Agenda Setting and Agenda Building
    Framing Theory
    Source Credibility and Information Subsidies
    Cumulative Effects Theory
    Social Exchange Theory
    Relationship Management Paradigm
    Theories of Media Relations
    Model of Media Relations
    Journalist-Centric Media Relations Model
    Development of Expectations Management Theory
    "If You want to Truly Understand Something, Try to Change It"
    Key Concepts
    4. Understanding Audiences
    Understanding the Makeup of an Audience
    How Is a Public Different From a Stakeholder?
    What Is a Constituency?
    Media Relations Focuses on Audiences
    Defining Our Audiences
    Internal Audiences
    External Audiences
    Types of Audiences to Consider
    Finding the Right Mix of Media Through Research
    Audience Objectives
    Transparency in Media Relations
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case
    Resources for Communicating During a Crisis
    5. The Relationship Between Media Relations Practitioners and Journalists
    A Quick History of the Relationship Over the Last Century
    Factors Affecting the Relationship
    The Relationship Today
    Hope Moving Forward
    Importance of Source Credibility
    Source Credibility Defined
    Do Journalists See Us as Credible Sources Today?
    What the Research Means for Media Relations
    Building Relationships for Media Relations
    Cultivating Journalists and Others in the Media
    A Starting Point in Building the Relationship
    Know What They Write
    Start Interacting Slowly
    Work to Be Helpful
    Be Aware of Contact Preferences
    And So Many More
    Will You Be Working With Digital Influencers?
    Media Catching as a Relationship-Building Strategy
    How Media Catching Sites Work
    Usefulness of Media Catching
    Key Concepts
    6. Ethics
    Personal Ethics
    Professional Ethics
    Field Ethics
    The Embargo
    No Comment
    Stealing Thunder
    Pay for Play
    Off the Record/Anonymous Sources
    A Few Notes on Laws Relating to Media Relations

    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case
    Resource for Public Relations Law
    7. Assessing News
    What Is Newsworthiness?
    General Factors of Newsworthiness
    Differences in Perception of News
    Survey of Opinions
    What Does This Mean to Us?
    Actual Use in Media Releases
    What Does This Mean to Us?
    Viewing Newsworthiness From an Organizational Perspective
    Viewing Newsworthiness From Journalists' Perspectives
    Internal Forces
    External Forces
    Commonalities of Newsworthiness Across Media
    Thinking Strategically: All News Media Need Content
    Differences Across Media Vehicles
    Format Variables
    Audience Interest
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case
    8. Managing Goals, Objectives, and Expectations
    to Organizational Goals Is Essential
    Defining Goals, Objectives, and Strategies

    Defining Goals and Objectives
    Thinking Strategically
    Strategy Is the Step Between Goals and Objectives
    Successfully Connecting Media Relations to the Whole
    Defining the Problem or Challenge
    Determining If Media Relations Can Help
    Making the Most of Media Relations
    Helping Ourselves by Writing Useful, Targeted, and Measurable Objectives
    Managing Organizational Expectations
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case

    9. Tools of the Trade
    Thinking About Writing
    Thinking About Written Tools as Subsidies
    The Press Release
    Using the Press Release
    Primary Subsidies
    Secondary Subsidies
    Focused Subsidies
    The Boilerplate
    The Media Kit
    Traditional Tactics
    Online Tactics
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case

    10. Reaching Out, Making Contact, Earning a Response
    Who to Target?
    The Importance of Relationships
    Crafting a Pitch
    Establish a Connection
    Pique Their Interest
    Provide Information
    Elicit a Response
    More Thoughts on Crafting a Pitch
    How to Reach Out and Stand Out
    The Social Media Pitch: When and How to Use It
    Being a Steward to Your Story
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case

    11. A Proactive Approach to Measurement and Evaluation
    Before We Begin
    Initial Steps Toward Media Relations Measurement
    Why We Should Measure
    Traditional and Nontraditional Forms of Media Relations Measurement
    Tracking Output
    Tracking Outcomes
    Type 1: Manifest Attributes--Your Entry-Level Evaluation
    Type 2: Taking the Next Step--Latent Content
    Type 3: If We Have the Time and Budget
    Some Common Mistakes in Measurement
    Setting Yourself Up for Success
    Defining ROI in Media Relations
    Measuring Knowledge
    Measuring Attitude
    Measuring Behavior
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case
    Resources for Public Relations Research and Measurement

    12. Adapting Your Media Relations Program
    Becoming a Flexible Media Relations Practitioner
    Sports Media Relations
    Entertainment Media Relations
    Crisis Media Relations
    Government Media Relations
    Being Adaptable in the Modern Environment
    The Impact of Integration
    Content Marketing
    The Next Generation of Communication Technologies
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case

    13. Engaging With Diverse Audiences
    The Diversity of Journalists as an Audience
    Characteristics of Journalists
    Differences in Media Type
    Differences in Experience
    Multiple Approaches to Storytelling
    Engagement With Audiences
    Diversity of Audiences
    Nontraditional Audiences
    Social Media
    A Final Word on the Diversity of Audiences
    Diversity of Media
    Traditional "Ethnic" Presses
    International Audiences in the United States
    International Audiences Abroad
    Key Concepts
    Challenge Case

    14. Case Studies for Discussion
    Introduction and Acknowledgments
    Using These Case