The simple guide for PR Teams to remotely manage media relations
Everyday we help organisations and brands to manage their media relations function through the MediaHQ PR software. We are about to enter a phase where working virtually could become the norm for a few weeks at least. With that in mind, we wanted to share our best advice for PR teams on how to manage your media relations remotely.
The key things to consider
Set the tone for the team at the start
It’s important to remind your team members that everybody is working, just from a different desk. This means that team members are available at exactly the same times that they would be in work. It’s a complete no no if someone can’t make a check in call or is not available when you need them. It is essential to set the rules of engagement at the start. Managers need to think about managing workflow not workers therefore a clear set of expectations and performance indicators need to be understood.
Manage your office call redirects
Who is checking the office phone and making sure that you put a redirect message on it? It should contain the number of the person who is going to deal with the call traffic. This can be a designated person or the office administrator. One person should be responsible for directing call traffic.
Use project management software to manage the workflow.
When you work virtually the big question is who is doing what and when? You can’t just drop by somebody’s desk, and it is essential to know. At MediaHQ we use Teamwork to manage our workflow. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing and it is easy for managers to allocate tasks to team members. It delivers transparency and accountability in equal measure.
Decide on how you are all going to communicate
It doesn’t matter how you conduct team calls as long as it works. There are loads of options from Zoom to Skype and What’sApp. Pick one that works for everybody.
Make sure that everybody has access to a laptop and fast broadband.
Seems obvious but don’t forget to check. Get everyone who works at home to do a speed test check and to share a screen grab of the results so you can identify if any connection is not ‘enterprise grade’.
The morning check in call.
Your team should have a check-in call at 9am to set the agenda for the day. Everyone should outline what they will achieve that day at work as well as a quick review of yesterday’s priorities. They should also describe any blockers or issues that might prevent them from getting their tasks done. Remember you don’t want their to-do list, you want to know what they will achieve that day? It’s also good to have a quick check-in at noon and one and 5pm.
Office chat channels can be useful
You should consider having a virtual office chat channel like Slack. It is very useful technology and allows you to have a live conversation with each other. It’s essential that staff members are only included in relevant chats so it doesn’t distract too much and people can mute it if they are doing quite work.
The ‘daily report’ email.
People tend not to like this but it works really effectively. You are asking them to tell you what they got done during the day and how long it took. It’s a really good way to see how effective people are. It should go like this.
Here is my list from today:
9am-10am – Drafted the ACME Press Release.
10.15 – 10.30 – Finalised lists on MediaHQ and sent the release to national Health Correspondents.
10.30 – 11.15 – Drafted the client opinion article for the Times.
11.15 – 12.30 – Check MediaHQ analytics and called journalists that were interested.
12.30 – 13.00 – Managed the Office Twitter.
14.00 – 15.00 – Set up two client interviews with BBC Today and Channel 4.
15.00 – 16.00 – Prepared a brief for the client radio interview tomorrow.
16.00 – 17.00 – Prepared a client Blog Post on ‘Digital Working Trends.’
17.00 – 17.30 – Planned tomorrow.
Using tools like Toggl to track time helps ensure that colleagues are prioritising accordingly and are aware of the time they are spending on different tasks.
Have a source of media contacts that the whole team can us virtually
Ok so this is the bit that we do at MediaHQ. We help PR people work from anywhere. It’s useful to know this now. We provide a source of over 70,000 contacts in the UK and Ireland. How will you do this for your team virtually? There is a lot of grunt work. Our tool allows team members to build media lists in seconds, but also to access any list that someone else on the team builds. Here are some short videos that show you how it works:
Building A Media List with MediaHQ
Personalise the Perfect Pitch with MediaHQ
How to manage your GDPR with MediaHQ
How are you managing your press release reports
If you are pitching, or planning some press release distribution, how do you know it is a success. At MediaHQ we provide live analytics that shows you who is interacting with your pitch or press releases. In practice, one person on the team is allocated the job of following up a pitch or press release that is sent out. They log into MediaHQ and see who is interacting with the story. This will then inform who they call back and follow up with.
Working remotely is a challenge, but with the right strategy, processes and tools, it can be even more productive. The key is to put a plan in place, set the tasks and the KPIs and make sure that you regularly check in with people.
If you need any help with your media relations just ask. You can email us at [email protected] or visit or website.