Written by Jonny Routledge
There is much more to successful media relations than sending out a press release to a series of media contacts that you think would be interested in your story.
A scattergun approach is always less successful than sending targeted communications to a quality connection. This is especially the case when such a connection has been built by ensuring the journalist is the right contact to send the release to and providing them with the information they want to receive in the format they need it.
Creating these relationships doesn’t need to be a difficult task, you just need to follow a few simple rules to start, nurture and flourish them. Here are my top tips on how to create relationships with the media and why it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Do your homework
If you’re sending a news story to local, regional or sector trade media that you have never worked with before, make sure you do your research before the press release is distributed.
When researching potential journalists for each outlet, ask yourself two questions:
- Has this journalist covered news in this location recently?
- Does this journalist write about the topic of my press release?
If it’s a yes, then you’re most likely on to a winner. That said, for extra measure you can also call the publication’s news desk to check the best journalist for your location and topic.
More often than not, publications also have a general news desk email address – include this in your distribution for wider outreach.
You wouldn’t walk into a room and not introduce yourself to the people you haven’t met before. This rule counts for when you’re reaching out to journalists.
When contacting a journalist for the first time, make sure to properly introduce yourself and let them know which of your clients you’re getting in touch with them about.
Personalise your communication
Now there is no doubting that you need to get straight to the point when pitching out to a journalist, but don’t forget to personalise your email to them.
Simply getting their name correct or remembering something from the last time you interacted can go a long way with a journalist.
Respect their preference
The majority of journalists don’t mind you picking up the phone to double check whether they are the right contact before your distribution and follow-ups after your initial pitching. However, some prefer an email only approach, which should be respected as part of a growing relationship with a journalist. A contact’s preference can often be checked on your media database.
To find out more about the best approach for contacting journalists, have a read of our blog on media relations strategy here.
Make their job as easy as possible
The basis of a great relationship with a journalist is to ensure you are making their job easier, and in turn will be represented through good quality media coverage.
See below how to make a journalist’s job easier:
- Check, check and check again that your pitch email is grammatically correct. The last thing you want to do is repeatedly send a journalist news with errors
- Target your subject line with the most newsworthy facts. If applicable, include the location of where your story is for
- Always send a captioned image that is suitable for both print and online publishing
- In the press release itself, make sure to include the most important and newsworthy information that the journalist will want to know
Stick to deadlines
When a journalist is asking you for extra information or a contribution to an article with a strict deadline, do your upmost to meet it.
If for any reason the deadline can’t be met due to a client or the required information being unavailable, be honest and let them know in good time that you’re not going to be able to meet the deadline that has been set. More often than not, an extension will be offered rather than your contribution being omitted from the piece.
Meeting deadlines is an excellent way to build a relationship with a journalist as it positions you as someone that is a valuable and reliable source that they can come to, should the subject matter be appropriate.
So there you have it, five simple rules to help you start building your very own relationships with your media contacts. And remember, it doesn’t need to be complicated! Think of it as you would when meeting new people in a social setting – introduce yourself, be personable, find out their likes and dislikes, and be timely. Over time these nurtured relationships will become fantastic professional contacts.
At Brand8 PR, we pride ourselves on building strong relationships with our contacts in local, regional, consumer and trade media. Get in touch with Natalie today and find out how we can help with your media relationships on t: 07913 131 246 or e: Natalie.firstname.lastname@example.org.