We’ll let you in on a little secret… public relations is oftentimes not about what you know, but who you know. The key to being a successful PR professional is establishing relationships with journalists, editors, producers and reporters. Rather than blindly pitching media lists day in and day out, follow these tips for building beneficial relationships with the media.
Know their Niche. Have an understanding of what journalists cover and what their writing style is. Tailor your pitches to what they write about. The last thing you want is to send them something irrelevant and let your next pitch go ignored because you didn’t take the time to research who you are pitching.
Respect Deadlines. For a reporter, deadlines are often within a few short days or hours. Always ask when their deadline is and give them what they need well in advance. You want to give them enough time to write a decent article and most importantly, include your client in the story.
Be Personable. No one wants to feel like they are talking to a robot. Journalists are busy meeting deadlines and skimming through pitches, so keep communication concise and to the point. Send them short compliments on recent articles to show that you aren’t always looking favors. Wish them happy birthday or ask them about a vacation they were on, a small gesture goes a long way.
Be Persistent. Writers inboxes are flooded with hundreds of pitches each day. If a pitch goes ignored, try reaching out again. Following up is the best way to keep your pitch at the top of an overloaded inbox. Respect who you are pitching and how they prefer to communicate, whether it be via email, text, phone call or direct message.
Meet in Person. If you have the opportunity to meet a reporter in person, you better go for it. Establishing that in-person connection is how your name in their inbox is going to stand out above the others. Don’t just talk about your clients. Position yourself as a valuable resource and someone they can go-to when they are in a pinch for a story.
Stay in Touch. Just like any relationship, the strength of relationships with journalists improves with consistency, time, and patience. Communication doesn’t always have to be about your clients or industry. Take the extra step by sharing and commenting on an article they slaved over for hours. Engage in genuine and frequent interaction on social media to strengthen the relationship. A good rule of thumb for maintaining a consistent relationship with a journalist is corresponding once per month.