Relationships are key in our daily lives. For those of us who have chosen PR as our career, building relationships with the media is our lifeblood. Positive inclusions in a newspaper, magazine or on a key industry blog can help put our clients name on the map, as well as increase their revenue. As PR professionals, it is our job to make this happen.
But, you need to understand that generating positive coverage for your client isn’t about blasting mass emails, press releases or untargeted pitches out aimlessly. In reality, most journalists will tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than finding their inboxes filled with irrelevant pitches from PR professionals. To avoid this, don’t repeatedly spam them with information they can’t use. You need to be a reference that they can come to for help and to make this happen, you need to build a strong, ongoing relationship.
Here are four tips from my experience in working with journalists that will help you to succeed in building a strong relationship with the media:
Be Sure You Understand Their Outlet
Before developing your pitch, you need to first understand the outlet you’re pitching. As I mentioned before, nothing can be more irritating to journalist than to receive off-base pitches while they are under the pressure of meeting a tight deadline. As PR professionals, we must understand each of the outlets that we work with, as well as how they are structured and their timelines for story development. Take the time necessary to familiarize yourself with the outlets and stories that your targeted journalist typically covers to ensure that your client is relevant. Fully understanding who and what they cover will go a long way towards building a long-term relationship.
Always Personalize Your Pitches
No one likes impersonal communication. Make sure that you take that extra couple of minutes with every encounter you have with them to personalize your interaction. I highly recommend that you read up on what the journalist has recently covered and incorporate this you’re your pitch or general follow up. Keeping your pitch personal will let the journalist know that you understand their coverage area and is key to building a relationship. Also, every interaction doesn’t need to be a pitch. I’ve found that just checking in with a journalist to let them know that they recently wrote an interesting article can be very beneficial in the relationship building process.
Don’t Bait and Switch
Journalists are always on deadline and they don’t have time to play games. If you pitch a story, or source, that they are interested in, be sure you can deliver. Nothing can sour a relationship with a journalist faster than failing to meet their expectations by promising an interview with your clients CEO and then having a marketing director on the call. The same goes for story pitching. If a journalist goes into a call expecting one thing, and you turn around and talk about something completely different, chances are you might not get a second opportunity with the journalist.
Saying Thank You Goes a Long Way
After a story featuring your client appears, don’t forget to say thank you. This doesn’t have to be a long-winded, gushing letter. It could be a sentence or two that lets the journalist know that you appreciate the time and effort he or she put into the piece. This simple act of appreciation can be the difference between continued coverage with a journalist or not. Whenever a journalist covers one of my clients, I always send a short note thanking them for their time and offering the client up as a source for future pieces. This shows appreciation for their hard work and I for one know that it’s nice to be acknowledged. I’m sure they do too.
Those are a few recommendations that I have from my personal experience. Do you have any other tips that work for you? How do you build strong relationships with the media? Please leave your thoughts below.
- John Kreuzer