Putting Relationships Back into Media Relations

By: Taylor Lewis, Senior Public Relations Coordinator

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You’ve done it! A stellar press release, that captivating pitch, those awesome photos!

Hmmm, but you’ve heard zip from the journalists that you’ve reached out to?! Why does it seem like you’ve done everything ‘PR-perfect’, but your efforts occasionally seem to fall on deaf ears?

Well, this perceived snub is likely because journalists get hundreds and hundreds of pitches each day; most of which they ignore. According to Chris Harihar of PR Daily, “They’re [pitches] like banner ads; the sheer volume makes tune-out inevitable.” – Basically what Haihar means is that no matter how great your pitch may be, it may never be read by a journalist.

Therefore, the ‘who you know’ factor is imperative when it comes to the relationship between public relations professionals and journalists. There needs to be a strong, cultivated respect for the journalist’s time so, in turn, the journalist will be more apt to listen to the PR professional’s ideas.

However, like most relationships, the synergy between journalist and PR pros isn’t built overnight. Enriching, credible relationships with the media is harder than ever as the competition is fierce and “journalists are skeptical about thirsty PR and communications people.”

So, how can you build a bond that stands out among a sea of competitors? Here are a few tips on building a strong relationship with journalists today:

 1.     Less is always MORE!

When working with journalists, it is important to remember that time is of the essence. You will want to keep your pitches short, simple and to the point. Worried that approach won’t make your pitch stand out? Utilize the subject line to grab their attention! This is a great place to add that bit of sparkle instead of in the body of your pitch where the journalist may or may not read it.

 2.     Take the time to research.

Get to know the reporter ahead of time. Whether this means looking into their previous work, looking them up on social media or asking them to meet for coffee; by taking the time to show them you care, you can increase the likelihood that they will care about what you pitch. Maybe try promoting some of their work on your social media feed or direct messaging them about an article that you loved. These little personal touches are stepping stones to building a stronger relationship.

 3.     Follow-up or fold?

Reporters get hundreds and hundreds of pitches each day, which means they likely get hundreds of people trying to build a relationship with them as well. Know when to follow-up or fold. If the journalist never responds to any of your efforts, then take the hint and spend time cultivating a relationship with someone else. You can’t force anyone to have a relationship with you, including a journalist.

 4.     Selling can sell you out!

Journalists and PR professionals both have one thing in common: they want to tell stories. Journalists are supposed to supply their audience with unbiased stories, not sales pitches. A relationship should never feel transactional, even if you feel like you are trying to sell them on your story. Save your sales pitch for your client’s customers.

 5.     Say no to FAKE news.

The most important thing to remember is to be authentic when building a relationship with a journalist. You don’t want to make them feel like you are using them for your personal gain, but instead, trying to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Stay true to yourself and, especially, avoid coming off as ‘fake’.

 There’s no right or wrong way to build a relationship with the media and the relationship you do build won’t be overnight. However, by following these five simple tips you can work towards building a strong relationship that will put your pitch on the forefront!

 For more information on best media relations practices, check out this article by PR Daily: https://www.prdaily.com/5-tactics-for-cultivating-media-relationships/