Building Media Relationships, it’s Just Like Dating
Valentine’s Day was just a few short days ago, and love is still in the air. For PR professionals building and developing relationships with journalists is one of the most crucial parts of the job. It’s a symbiotic bond, one that requires a lot of give and take, not too much unlike that relationship with a special significant other in your life. So, crack open a bottle of bubbly and pop in your favorite romantic comedy because we’re going to break down how to not only help reporters with their job but also get some client wins in the process. These tips will be sure to have those new contacts sliding into your DMs in no time.
Do Your Research
Say you’re on a dating app, you’re scrolling through when you find a mutual match. You both hit it off and decide to go for coffee. You wouldn’t show up to the date without Googling your prospective partner and checking out all their social media profiles first. A journalist might look like a great contact for a pitch at first glance, but doing your homework is going to be key. There is nothing journalists dislike more than getting pitches that have nothing to do with the topic that they are covering. Read through all their recent articles and think to yourself, “Is this something their audience would be interested in?”, if not it’s probably not a good fit. If your research shows that they could be a good connection though then you are ready to go on that date…I mean send that pitch.
Don’t Come on Too Strong
Coming off clingy or desperate on a first date is never a good thing and is almost certain to get a rejection. Sending a super long salesy message with a press kit attached on your first interaction with a journalist is almost certain to get your email sent to trash and get you put on the “block/do not call” list. Take the time to introduce yourself first, what industries are you in? What kind of introductions can you make that will be helpful in expanding their network? Save any talk about your clients until you have laid the groundwork for a great relationship.
Give Them Time to Follow Up
We’ve all heard the piece of advice to wait a few days after a first date to text or call someone back. Whether this is actually helpful is up for debate, however, when dealing with journalists. You’ll definitely want to wait a few days before following up on a pitch. One of the biggest turn-offs for journalists is PR people who incessantly and constantly follow up. Remember that reporters are being bombarded with hundreds of emails a day and will likely need a few days to review and look over your pitch. If you’re going to follow up, you’ll also want to try and do so between 8 am- 12 pm, this is the time that Cision found that most journalists prefer.
Know What they Care About
No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who only ever talks about themselves. Make sure to send journalists story tips that are not even yours, showing that you’re a source for knowledge about the industry and not just for the company or companies that you are working for. For any relationship to grow we must show our partner that we value the things that they care about, it is no different with journalists. Give them a follow-on Twitter or any other social media platform and see what they’re talking about. What kind of stories are they retweeting? Which types of interactions are they engaging in? Maybe you see that they wrote a book and bring that up in conversation, even better. Show that you’re listening and know what they are interested in.
Show Them Support
If your partner is getting a big promotion at work, you’re probably going to take them out for a special dinner to celebrate. Being there for your partner and supporting them through good and bad times is the core part of any relationship. You’ll also want to do this for journalists to show them that you support the work that they are doing. Maybe you share a recent article on Twitter that they wrote, or you congratulate them on a big move to another publication. Make sure to be genuine and not self-serving. Knowing that they have you on their side without asking anything in return is going to build a strong relationship.
The bottom line is to be helpful and authentic in your interactions with journalists, just like in any relationship. The easier you make it for them to do their jobs the more it will pay off in the end.