Building Relationships with Journalists
If your goal is to secure high authoritative links and brand mentions in the press, then it’s essential that you work on building relationships with journalists. As you know, online, in print and broadcast reporters receive hundreds of emails every day, and it’s essential as a media expert that you’re putting together a proposal or, shall I say, a pitch email that’s clear, concise and most importantly, relevant to that reporter.
Working in a fast-paced environment like a digital PR agency, you’ve got to be prepared to move with the news and be ready to adapt your digital PR strategy and campaigns to fit the narrative of the press. A lot of this involves changing the way you approach journalists and pitch to them. Investing time into researching what the journalist or producer creates daily will help you make sure that you’re providing that person with an informative press release, video or creative asset that is appropriate for their readership, network or social media channels.
However, digital PR campaigns are not always that straightforward. There’s a lot of hard work involved when it comes to securing media placements in the press, and a lot of this involves a lot of trial and error when it comes to contacting reporters. Taking the plunge and testing out different forms of communication will help develop your confidence and give you direction on how to approach writers and producers from different news outlets.
Thanks to media tools like MuckRack and Roxhill, you can build media lists relevant to your digital PR campaign. However, suppose you’re looking for a newsjacking or a reactive PR opportunity. Social media will be the place to browse first to secure those media opportunities, as Twitter has made it much easier to find journalists and the top trending topics of the day.
Building Relationships With Journalists, a Key PR Strategy:
Approaching Reporters in a Friendly Manner
Good manners go a long way, no matter who you’re chatting with at work or outside the office. This same principle applies when communicating with journalists. Being friendly and starting a conversation by asking how the person’s day is going or acknowledging the work they’ve done goes a long way, as it’s not often that reporters get recognition for their work or get asked how they are. So, kindness really goes a long way.
Send what you’ve got ASAP
One way to develop a strong relationship with a journalist is to show them that you’re a reliable source who can help them meet their media deadlines. Going above and beyond and proving everything that they need for their story goes a long way and can even open doors for more media placements for you.
Build the connection slowly
When it comes to chatting and communicating with a reporter, it’s important to keep the conversation light but engaging. Don’t look up on their social media and reference things about their personal life. It’s important to set boundaries and be respectful of that reporters out of office life. In time you can definitely have more of an open conversation and meet for coffee, drinks or dinner. Twitter can be a great place to connect with reporters and have good conversations about topics you both like without it crossing the line.
Don’t make false promises
One of the biggest mistakes people make when communicating with reporters is failing to deliver deadlines or put them in touch with the relevant people for interviews. To avoid being blacklisted or in the bad books with a reporter, make sure you communicate sooner rather than later if this is no longer possible and come up with a solution to help them with their story.
Don’t let things go cold
When you’re juggling multiple campaigns, it’s easy sometimes to get lost and forget about who you’ve pitched to. This is quite common when you’re new to PR, so make sure when you’re you’re outreaching, you note down who you’ve been contacting and put a time stamp next to their name, so you know when to follow up and reach out.
Pick up the phone or arrange a zoom call
Sometimes things get lost in translation, and it’s often easier to speak on the phone. Building confidence and asking to chat on the phone or via zoom can help you pitch your story in another way and also let the reporter get to know you on a deeper level.
Send a follow-up email
After any phone call or virtual call, it’s important to follow up with an email thanking them for their time and highlighting the key discussion points made on the call. If you need to send over comments, data, or press releases, make sure you include that in your follow-up email so the journalist has everything they need to write their story.
Politely ask for an update
When you’re outreaching, you don’t always get a reply confirming that a journalist will cover your story. This isn’t because they’re ignoring you. It’s because they are working to tight deadlines and also managing other emails they’re receiving from our people in your industry. If you have spotted your story go online yet, there’s no harm in sending a quick email to ask the question and for feedback.
Thank them for the coverage
If you’ve spoken to the reporter over email, it’s important to thank the reporter who covered your story. Showing gratitude is nice for reporters as they’ve dedicated their time to producing an article for your brand or client. By showing gratitude, you’re more likely to secure further coverage with them in the future for the client or another company.
Reach out again with some exclusive stories and ideas
Once you feel like you’ve got a solid relationship with a reporter, don’t be afraid to cold pitch and propose some ideas to them. This can be super helpful for freelance writers and trend reporters who need direction on topics that are relevant to their target audience.
Relationships With Reporters Are Key, Here are Some of My Key Takeaways
Regarding my own experience, I take a different approach when building relationships with the press to what others may do. I really care about the writers I’ve got to know over the years, and I’ve developed that strong relationship by being kind and providing everything I can for their stories.
I also pay attention to what they produce in their news stories and video content and offer them exclusives and other story suggestions because I understand what content they need to create for their newspaper, magazine or TV network.
But before you jump into the deep end, I will be completely honest with you and share that there’s no quick method, and it does come with a little bit of dutch courage. Being patient and paying attention to detail in outreach emails will make a massive difference, as no one wants a clogged-up mailbox.
Finally, don’t be afraid to make a call, as having a chat on Zoom or on the phone can eliminate confusion and get things over the line much quicker. Remember, journalists are human too, and they also value good communication and good relationships with PRs.
If you’re interested in digital PR as a marketing channel then feel free to get in touch with our team today. We’ve helped countless businesses feature in relevant, industry publications as well as the national media. We’ve already spent years building relationships with journalists across the country who are receptive to our stories, ideas, and clients. If you want to learn more get in touch today by phone 0161 327 2635, or email [email protected].