Raising awareness on a key product, initiative or service via media relations is vital for boosting you company brand or business. But where do you begin when developing a solid media relations strategy and how can you maintain a steady stream of quality press coverage? It begins with developing professional relationships with journalists, understanding their work, showing sensitivity to their deadlines and even discovering their personality type. The old adage that exists in the business world today is true when pitching journalists: Often times, it’s not what you know, but who you know and how well you know them that leads to success. So before rolling your sleeves back and getting into the nitty gritty of a media campaign strategy, button-up and become a go-to source by developing professional relationships with journalists.
- Research their beat and consistently read their work
If you want a journalist to view you, your agency or organization as a source, it is vital to understand their beat, as well as their writing topic interests. Start off by creating a list of publications you wish to be featured in, narrowing down the desired sections (EX: leadership, technology, design) and regularly reading each section everyday for a couple weeks. Do this for each publication and limit yourself to 2-3 publications per month – so you do not overwhelm yourself. Over time, you will begin to learn who is who and what they write about.
- Connect on Twitter
Once you begin to understand who your target journalists are and their beat, the next step is engagement. This is where the “relations” part of media relations comes into play and Twitter is an excellent source to begin forming relationships with journalists. Twitter also allows you to stay up-to-date on potential beat or publication changes and dive deeper into understanding their personal interests. A sincere “like,” reply, or share from a journalist’s post can potentially create a lasting impact over time and form conversations. This, in turn, may lead to an organic way of suggesting story ideas or presenting a pitch.
- Understand their preferred method of contact
Make it a priority to ask a journalist their preferred method of contact. I cannot stress this enough. I have seen far too many marketers and public relations professionals skip this simple step and assume that all journalists are open to phone pitches or email correspondence during all hours of the day. Journalists have duties, deadlines, as well as lives and they are not here to solely cater to us. Make it a point to ask what their deadline days are, what type of style they typically like to see in a pitch as well as their preferred platform of regular communication. This ensures that both you and the journalist are on the same page, giving you a stronger likelihood of being featured in an article.
- Don’t inundate them with never-ending pitches and follow-ups
As many of us learned at a young age no means no. The same holds true when developing professional relationships with journalists. This truth can mean the difference between becoming a source or becoming a pest and, trust me, you do not want to be viewed as the latter. A good rule of thumb is to wait a couple days before following-up and then attempt a final follow-up correspondence a couple days thereafter. If no reply is given or a clear “pass” is stated, don’t beat a dead horse. Move on.
Developing a strong media relations campaign begins with a foundation of professional relationships with journalists. Remember that it’s a two-way street when working together. By putting these truths into practice, you can rest assured that you will, with time and effort, become classified as a source, improving your chances of press coverage and boosting your brand and business. What are your thoughts on building professional relationships with journalists?