When we were young, making friends was as easy as ABC. You walk up to someone at the playground and next thing you know, he or she is your new best friend. As we grow older, building relationships can be a challenge, especially when it’s part of your job. Building strong professional relationships with journalists is a crucial part of public relations and reputation building.
Here’s how you can build a strong relationship with your media pals:
Do your homework
Before reaching out to any journalists, PR professionals must do their homework and understand who covers what beat for specific publications. While this may seem simple, many often neglect this important step. By understanding the type of news story that a specific journalist covers, we can avoid an awkward situation of having to explain why we are pitching a lifestyle consumer story to a business journalist. If you are able to bring a story that is relevant to a specific journalist’s beat, you are one step closer to making a new friend.
Identify relevant angles
We must remember that all journalists have the responsibility to write about things that impact their readers. As a PR consultant, while it is important to help your clients hit their key messages, we must make sure it’s a story worth the journalist’s time.
Instead of pitching everything under the sun, try asking the journalist what stories he or she is planning to write and discuss how your clients can fit in with relevant insights.
This changes the dynamic of the relationship from merely providing an angle and hoping the journalist might be interested in, to a relationship that encourages two-way communication. This way, you can add value by helping the journalist develop a strong story that truly impacts their target audience while positioning your clients as thought leaders.
Mind your manners
It’s true that manners maketh man. Always remember to be courteous no matter who you speak to or via any communication channels – face to face, phone, email or even a WhatsApp message. When we are courteous in our interactions, we leave behind a good impression. Also, don’t underestimate simple gestures such as dropping an appreciation note after interviews or any PR engagements. Genuine appreciation goes a long way in fostering better relationships with anyone.
While the tips mentioned above may seem simple, PR professionals today don’t practise them enough. Journalists are juggling multiple stories and sources every day – so the least we can do is anticipate their needs versus overwhelming them. Once you have established a strong connection, it’ll be easier to cut through the noise and deliver real results for your clients.
We’re all for making new friends: chat with us at [email protected]