How other people see your organisation is key to its success. Working on your public relations (PR) can help you to build a more positive image of your organisation. PR is simply how you share your story with the public. It takes your brand and helps you to shape it into an effective marketing and communications story. A story that will help your target users to know exactly who you are. This makes it clear to them why they should interact with you.

A big part of this is media relations. This is your interactions with the media and how they tell your story. In this lesson, you will learn some of the ways you can interact with and benefit from the media. You'll understand how to help the media to tell your story in a way that will resonate with the people you want to reach.


  • Understand examples of traditional media
  • Know what digital platforms have to offer
  • Learn the benefits of consistency
  • Find key opportunities to share your stories

Read time:

15 mins

Chapter 1

Why consider the media?

Read time:

2 mins

Reaching a broad audience

Social media is a good way to share news and stories with people. But TV, radio, newspapers and magazines still have a role to play. Both can help give a good image of an organisation.

You can reach both a wide range of users and specific types. Each type of media will have their own audience ready for you to tell your story to. You could reach a broader and bigger set of users through national papers. On the other hand, you could target specific users. By, for example, trying to speak to people who like music through a music magazine.


Examples of traditional media

  • Newspapers
  • Radio
  • Magazines
  • TV
  • Direct mail
  • Billboards
  • Banner ads


Reaching your target audience

Through research, each traditional media company knows in detail who their consumers are and what they want. This can help you pick the media outlet that will best reach the people you what to talk to. Also the trust they feel about the media outlet, will enhance the messages they see about your brand.


Advertising vs news interest

One way to tell your story is through news items, articles and interviews. You could also use advertising to get your message out. Both ways are good, but also, both ways have some problems.

In advertising, you have control over your message and its image. You can also control how often it is seen and where. But it can be expensive. A news story will not cost you, but you lose some control to the interests of journalists and producers. The effort you put into media relations will help you get the right balance.

Your use of advertising and the news stories you can place are in your control. The two give you multiple routes to tell your story. Today, by employing social media and direct contact you have even more routes.

Chapter 2

Types of traditional media you can use

Read time:

8 mins

Is traditional media still relevant?

In this chapter we will look at the main types of traditional media. We will look at how they could be used to support your brand or messages.

It could be claimed that the traditional media started back in 1476, with the first English printing press. Since then, print has grown and is everywhere. Radio, TV, and the internet are now the mainstream.

We have the internet and social media to tell our stories. Do we still need to use the traditional media? Yes, they support and complement each other. They let you talk to your audience and more importantly let them talk directly to you.


National newspapers

National newspapers are as the name suggests - widely published across the UK. Most are published every day of the week. Some also have special weekend editions. These UK wide papers are usually stocked or sold in retail outlets, as well as online.

The news they cover is quite often national or global. Most papers also will have some special topics such as finance, crime or sports. Papers will tend to publish the same version across the UK. Some may print other versions for areas like Scotland.

With all this in mind, these newspapers can be a good way to advertise to large groups. They are also of benefits for news that could be considered interesting for people across the UK. For example, you may have a new product that has major health benefits. This wouldn't only be of interest to people in a specific location. It could be relevant to anyone. Whereas a news story about a local fair would not be. That would be better placed in the local media.


Where do people get their news from?

Newspapers have been the source for many people in the UK for years. But recent research from Ofcom shows they are used by less than a third of the population. There is a changing and richer picture.

Source: Research from Ofcom - News Consumption in the UK (PDF, 193 KB)


A changing picture


This may make you think that TV and online are the only real options. Other forms of news still have a place. User ratings for impartiality are highest in readers of magazines. They are weakest among users of social media. So, users might turn first to the internet, but they have greater trust in other media.

In fact, according to an Ofcom survey (PDF, 193 KB), only 37% of people who use social media for news said they thought it was impartial. A much higher 78% thought magazines were impartial. These scores are 62% for TV, 61% for radio and 58% for the papers. In creating your media plan, you should think about how you can use the benefits of each channel to tell your story. Can you reach a broad audience through a TV campaign? Can you use social media to tell user stories?


Opportunities to get your message out there

With papers being sold daily across the UK, stories are always in high demand. Newspapers are also often trying to find new views on existing stories. So, you can use this to your benefit and think about where you can give a unique view on popular stories.

To get your stories into the media, you would do this in one of two ways. One option is a press release, this is where you would detail your story in a written brief. The other option is a media briefing, where you would meet with the media in person to tell your story.


Regional and local newspapers

Most towns and cities in the UK now have a local newspaper. These types of news outlets reach a local audience. They could tell people about how your brand is relevant to them.


Ownership of newspapers

You might plan to approach one outlet but find they have the same owner as other local titles. This may help you to reach more people with your story.

There are c 1,500 regional and local titles in the UK at present. Most of the titles are owned by one of the large media groups shown below.


Some examples of large media groups:

  • Archant
  • DC Thomson
  • JPIMedia (includes Johnston Press)
  • Iliffe Media
  • KM Group
  • MNA Media
  • Newsquest (includes CN Group and NWN Media)
  • Press Association
  • Reach plc (includes Local World and Trinity Mirror)
  • Tindle Newspapers


Take 2 minutes now, to think about which titles you could approach with news stories to promote or support your brand. Make notes of any ideas you have.

National radio

National radio produces many hours of media each day. Some of the stations play adverts. These are a powerful way to tell people about your brand.

This type of radio tends to broadcast UK and global news. So it could be very effective telling a story about your brand to people across the UK.


Regional, local and community radio

A regional or local radio station will have fewer listeners than a UK wide one. A community station would have even fewer. But for these people, local could be their first choice of media. Most of their news may come from that source.

Community radio may be in a hospital, or a university/college, for example. Local outlets may be of use for a longer-form of interview.

You'll be able to tell more of your story with more of the detail. You know you have a local and clearly identified group of people listening. This would be a very good way to tell your local news stories or brand messages out there.


Take 2 minutes now to think about which stations you could approach with news stories to promote or support your brand. Make notes of any ideas you have.

Using TV for brand messages

There are over 400 TV channels in the UK. They are a great platform for PR because they reach so many people. TV can raise awareness of a brand and create emotional connections.

There are chances to promote your stories through TV news programmes. It may be harder to get your brand message on TV than other media. But if the TV producers and planners think your story will engage their viewer they will want it.

A new campaign for a charity may get TV news coverage. There could be a well-known person involved. It may be an emotional story and the facts and research are just compelling.


Regional news

TV news is mainly produced for the whole of the UK. But, BBC and ITV also provide local news for their viewers in the regions.

It may be hard to get your story on national TV. But it's always worth asking which region would cover the local story you want to promote. You'll have a more chance of getting your story in your local news region than on national news.


Key considerations for TV news stories

  • TV news is timely and shows stories which are topical for that day
  • There is often a short time between giving your story and it being shown
  • Your story can be dropped if a bigger news story breaks that day


Other opportunities

As well as news, there are many other programme formats that can used for PR. These may also give a longer 'lead time' before the programme is shown.


Take 2 minutes now to think about the TV stations that may use news stories that promote or support your brand. Think also about the programme formats that may best carry your message. Make notes of any ideas you have.


There are two broad types of magazines which are known as, lifestyle and specialist. These types, and the many titles in each, can help you select the best place for your story.

Some features of this media type are unique. They are an effective way to tell stories about a brand.


Magazines can be very effective for brand messages

  • Strong visual-led content
  • Full colour pictures
  • Specialist topics
  • Long-form feature stories
  • Clear group of readers
  • Mailing lists
  • Linked brands. People that watch birds may relate to nature or landscapes. They may like other wildlife or join in a themed event


Types of magazines

There is a magazine for every topic or hobby you can think of. All skills and knowledge are covered. All trades and sectors included.

Which UK magazines have the highest circulation?

Do its readers align with your brand?

Would those with a lower spread be a closer match?


Top 10 UK magazines (source: Agility PR circulation data)

  1. National Trust magazine
  2. Tesco magazine
  3. ASDA Good Living
  4. TV Choice
  5. What's on TV
  6. Waitrose Food magazine
  7. Nature's House (RSPB)
  8. Radio Times
  9. English Heritage Members' magazine
  10. Good Housekeeping


Key considerations for magazine news stories:

  1. What is the right publication for your story?
  2. Who are the readers?
  3. What feature might tell the story best?
  4. What images are needed?
  5. What other brands may be linked?
  6. What is the lead time?
  7. When should you place your story? The December edition may begin planning content as early as July/August


Take 2 minutes now to think about which magazines may be read by people you want to talk to about your brand. Make notes of any ideas you have.

Chapter 3

Digital platforms

Read time:

1 min

It is a mixed picture

Most of the main media also have an online presence. But there are also online only news sites.

Like the main media, online only news sites need a lot of changing content to attract readers. Many are happy to publish blogs. This gives another way to raise your profile and show your work.


Two digital only platforms

  • Huffington Post launched in the USA in 2005. It was an early online news site. The stories and headlines include keywords that can be found by online search engines. It now has a series of international editions UK version launched in 2011
  • Buzzfeed launched in the USA in 2006. The site started with light-hearted news and entertainment. But, since 2011, it has published some acclaimed exposes and stories


Take 2 minutes now to think about which online only sites may be used by the people you would like to read your brand stories. Make notes of any ideas you have.

Chapter 4

Summary of media relations

Read time:

2 mins

Public Relations

In this lesson you have seen that PR can help to build and maintain the positive image of your brand. There are many sections of PR, one of them being media relations.


The other sections of PR are:

  • Media Relations
  • Investor Relations
  • Government Relations
  • Community Relations
  • Internal Relations
  • Employee Relations
  • Partner Relations
  • Customer Relations
  • Marketing Communications


Three key questions:

  1. Who is the target audience?
  2. What do they want to know?
  3. What do I want them to know?


Multiple channels

In the past, media relations dealt with the print and broadcast media. It would try to push stories about the brand to the public. Today, things are more subtle. There are more channels than just print and broadcast. And the public requires a two-way conversation.

To manage any of the facets of PR, we need to answer the three questions clearly. They give us insight and lead us to a two-way conversation.


Take 10 minutes now to think about what you have covered in this lesson. Review the activities you have done. Before you finish, try to answer the three key questions.

Make notes of any ideas you have.

Next steps

You are now in a good position to create your media relations strategy. The notes you have made, your answers to the key questions and your knowledge from this lesson will guide you. We have suggested some related learning for you to take as your next step.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 18th August 2023.