A guide for PR professionals looking to build media relationships
Getting to know each other
The ultimate goal of media relations is to create a relationship with a journalist so you become a reliable source of interesting stories. Before pitching a story, first do your research. You must have a clear understanding of the subject areas the journalist covers. The better prepared you are, the more you’ll be able to cater your pitch to perfectly suit the reporter.
In your pitch, highlight a recent article that the journalist has written to illustrate why your story is the right fit for them. This shows them that you are putting forward a story that is curated to suit their interests. It’s also an easy way to compliment their work. Just like dating, a compliment during the ‘talking stage’ gets you a long way.
Now that you have their attention, tell them about the story, introduce your client, and offer a media meet.
The first date
If they say yes to a media meet then congratulations, they’ve basically agreed to a first date. This can either be between yourself and the journalist or with the client. The first meet is an opportunity to build on what you already know about the journalist. Use this meeting to get insight into what they are interested in, what they want to do moving forward, and what they need from us as public relations professionals.
As much as this is an opportunity for you to understand their needs, you must also come with some potential stories that would be of interest to them. It is important to leave the meeting with some clear actions moving forward. Agree on the next story you’ll work on. Otherwise, the whole thing feels like a waste of time. It’s the same as planning the second date while on the first. If the meeting is going well, this should happen quite naturally.
Connecting on social
Whether or not the journalist agrees to run a story or go to a media meet, it is important that you maintain the connection. If this were a date, you would most likely have already followed each other on Instagram and Snapchat. The same rules apply in media relations. The only difference is in the social media platforms you connect on. The most popular are LinkedIn and Twitter. Journalists often use these sites to share their articles and that of their colleagues. By regularly engaging with their content on these platforms, it makes it easier for them to remember you. In addition, it makes it clear that you are trying to build a mutually beneficial relationship, instead of only contacting them when you need coverage.
Maintaining regular contact is essential. As we enter the holiday season, don’t forget to send a little thank you email to journalists that have covered your stories during the year.
Avoid being ghosted
There is a fine line between following up with a journalist and harassing them. Don’t be annoying. If a journalist asks for some time to look over a report, press release, or article you sent them, don’t chase later that day. This is the equivalent of text bombing someone you just started seeing. Give it a couple of days. In the meantime, engage with their social posts so that you remain top of mind. Also, consider the current news agenda. Is it a particularly busy period? Was there a big story that broke that morning? Take all that into account before you start calling journalists asking when your press release will go live.
At Milk & Honey PR our diversity and unique voices are always celebrated and encouraged. This extends to the way we do media relations. There isn’t a set formula that we are all pushed to follow. Instead each member of the hive brings their own personality to the way they build media relationships. Don’t be a robot. Use the above as a guide, but remember to inject your own charm when building relationships with media.