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Relationship building is the key to connecting with multicultural media: 5 tips for doing it right

by | Apr 12, 2023 | Public Relations

What does it take to be successful with multicultural media?

Positive storytelling firmly rooted in a commitment to building the relationship.

As with any relationship, you have to put in the time, and you have to listen. At TVA, we have learned this lesson through building longstanding relationships with trusted media outlets delivering news in over 20 languages throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Relationship building cannot be skipped or rushed—not if you want results

You must invest in getting to know each outlet and the types of stories that are relevant to each community. What do people care about? What is affecting them? Who do they trust? “Positive storytelling” is critical.

Marginalized communities are all too accustomed to traditional media painting them in a negative light. At worst, they are portrayed as criminals and freeloaders, and at best, as rare exceptions to those rules. Is it any wonder that multicultural media outlets are hungry for stories that shine a positive light on their audience without tokenizing them?

How will you “do multicultural media” in practice?

Learn, connect, relate, compensate, and manage expectations.

If you want to take an equity-driven, relationship-based approach to building multicultural media relationships, here’s what to expect:

1. Learn

Get to know the various editorial styles, story formats, and subject matter relevant to each media outlet and their surrounding communities.

Multicultural media partners appreciate interviews that uncover how a story directly impacts and benefits their community. At TVA, we highlight how our client’s stories, company news, events, or services are relevant to the audience and culturally appropriate.

2. Connect

Devote time and energy into meeting each media outlet team in person. It may seem obvious, but you’ll have more success pitching stories to people who know and trust you. At TVA, we push our clients to make deeper connections to help them understand community members’ perspectives.

3. Be human

The best storytelling is created through open and candid conversation. What your organization does is important to you, but until you sit down and have an honest, two-way conversation, you can’t know if and how it’s important to others. We can help prepare you through spokesperson development, media training, key message point creation, and interview briefings. We can also help you create accessible media materials—ones that transform jargon into “speaking human” and transcreate information into other languages.

4. Compensate equitably

Multicultural media outlets often distribute news for free, with an income based entirely on advertising dollars. Most people at multicultural outlets are used to being underpaid and overworked.

Frankly, if you want to engage with them, you should think about whether you are going to perpetuate that reality or join us in changing it. At TVA, we advocate for our community media partners, ensuring they understand the value of their demanding work and the importance of their role as the bridge to community.

5. Manage expectations

Small media outlet staff often juggle production, writing, editing, posting, and long on-air hours every day. Think twice before you make a last-minute request for their attendance at a press conference across town. With small, scrappy teams, a real-time (aka, last minute) press release postings or custom article may not be feasible. At TVA, we can help you understand editorial processes and timelines and develop best practices for multicultural media.

Janine Worthington
Janine Worthington is Director of Media Relations at The Vida Agency. She has been building and maintaining strategic relationships with local, national, and international media for more than 15 years. She creates and executes successful communications strategies to ensure company goals and objectives are achieved for a diverse lineup of TVA’s public and private clients.

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