Creating a relationship with journalists is a not an easy task. You need to know how they do business and how they react to newsworthy stories. However, with the right relationship, you will be heard. This article will help you create a respectful relationship with journalists.
by Louise Harris
Public relations representatives always are looking for ways to get attention for their press releases, events and new products. They often forget the simplest way to do that, which is getting to know journalists personally. While this often is easy in small towns, it is more difficult in large cities. However, even in large cities, public relations personnel can build relationships with journalists. P.R. representatives also can build relationships with journalists who work for trade publications or have a specific beat. Here are some tips on how to do that.
1. Send Regularly
Many companies send press releases only when they have an event or new product. However, the more releases you send, the more recognizable your name and logo become to journalists. Therefore, you should send press releases regularly. Most small businesses could get away with sending a release once-a-month. Others might want to send two or three a month. You don't want to inundate the journalists, though. Send enough to provide brand awareness, but not enough that the volume of press releases overwhelm them. If you are targeting specific journalists in specific fields, you still can send your releases regularly. Large corporations and government agencies can send daily press releases, but their names already are well-known.
2. Be Specific
Although most television, radio and podcasters have general e-mails, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, newspapers and magazines usually have individual e-mails. Look for the individual who would most likely be interested in your story. For example, if you are in real estate, pick the real estate reporter. If you are a sports bar, you should send to both sports and entertainment. If you are a small business, go for the business editor or reporter. If you have an event that is for the whole community, send to the local news reporter. You also can send to the senior editor or managing editor because he or she would distribute to the right person. These are more likely to run your story.
3. Offer Food
Many years ago, media breakfasts were common. Although they have gone out of favor, they still remain a good way to build relationships. Small businesses invite media to their offices for breakfast and show them their products and services. These breakfasts would not be to generate a story. They are intended as a way to mingle with journalists when nothing is happening. It helps the journalists to put a face to the name on the release and offer a rapport. Although you can take them out to lunch or get drinks with them after work, breakfasts work most effectively because journalists have more available time in the morning to mingle. At night, they often are on deadline for the next day. However, if lunch works better for you, feel free to offer lunch. The idea is to remember that journalists like food and drinks as much as your clients would and it builds relationships. Networking with journalists also help to get to know them. Journalists who work in a specific sector benefit from these gatherings more than others. They are looking for something unique and newsworthy that hasn't been mentioned in their beat. Attending an affair hosted by a potential source will give them a heads-up on the news before others get it. Some of my best inside information came from these events.
4. Give a Presentation
Inviting journalists to your office for an open house or demonstration of products or services also works to get to know your local reporters and editors. These invitations would work like the breakfasts in that you wouldn't be expecting a story. You are just letting them know you exist and what you do. If the journalists find the tour interesting, they might do a story on you. Again, these presentations and tours allow journalists to connect a face to a press release. If you want to reach a specific audience, these presentations are invaluable. Journalists who cover a specific industry already have an idea about what you are going to say, but they would prefer a more in-depth background on something to make them sound more knowledgeable. They also want to be the first to report on a breakthrough or new way of doing things in their beat.
5. Pick Up Phone
Like the media breakfasts, phone calling has lost its luster, but it still works. If you call a local editor or trade journalist regularly, he or she will get to know you. When I received press releases as an editor of a subscriber-based newsletter, I paid attention to those individuals who constantly called me with new information and tips. Often, I would run stories because I wanted to get the public relations representative to stop calling me about it. However, I appreciated the tips when I faced an empty page that needed filling. Please keep in mind that editors are busy, so respect their time. Don't be obnoxious when you call, and you will build a relationship.
With these tips, you are more likely to get to know local and beat journalists to know you. Those relationships go a long way to getting you the media attention you seek.
THE NEXT STEP:
Updating a media list about an industry or a region is always a big issue. Faselis helps the PR Pros with a pre-configured distribution list model. Faselis calls the publications one by one for adding the journalist to the distribution lists. You can check Faselis PR features on Faselis websites.