It is no secret that the media industry has undergone radical changes over the past few years, which has resulted in the media pool shrinking markedly. Since the success of our work as PR consultants depends largely on the strength of our relationships with the media, this has led to pressures not experienced in our industry before. How can PR professionals grow, foster and maintain relationships with key media people? Here are our top tips:
- Befriend the newbie. Think of when you started a new job. You are most likely still close to the colleague that invested time in you, right? It is the same with new journalists – they will appreciate receiving a pitch from you as they ease into their new role, and are more likely to be willing to publish a story that you have motivated to them. Not to mention the fact that you may have made a contact that could prove to be invaluable over the long term.
- Get to know the seasoned journalists. It’s important to have done your research at all times. Seasoned journalists are quite specific about what stories appeal to them. They are also not shy to ask to be removed from distribution lists if they feel they are being targeted with irrelevant content. Once you have a foot in the door with them, however, they could mean a lot to your future success. Not only do they have a wide network of contacts, but they also have the ear of their editors – so there is potential for your pitch to be turned into a major story if motivated strongly enough.
- Read, read, read. Yes, we know you have heard over and over how irritating journos find PR people, but this is really important. We don’t always have the luxury of face time with media people, so we need to know what works for them and what does not. How to do this? Become an ardent fan of your key journalist – read up on their interests, follow them on social media, and read everything they write. You will then stand a better chance of tailoring your content to suit their beat.
- Set up a coffee date. News outlets are bombarded with thousands of emails every day and no matter how brilliant your pitch or how relevant your topic, your mail may get lost in the clutter. The best thing to do is to set up a coffee date with your key journo, where you can casually find out what they’re working on, and let them know what content is in your pipeline. It is often easier to sell a story face to face than in a text-heavy email.
- Say thank you. Once we have sold our stories and enjoyed the desired coverage, we often move on to the next journalist with the next story without looking back. But remember – while it took a lot of effort to sell in the story from your side, it may have taken twice as much effort for the journalist to sell the story to their editor. So the next time a journalist pulls through for you, send a sincere ‘thank you’ email. Trust us, it will go a long way.