As entertainment industry professionals, we love to see our name in lights… and print.
Earned media – which is an editorial story you have helped to place – gives many of us that same warm, fuzzy feeling. It also helps to increase visibility with consumers, partners and other important stakeholders.
Whether your organization has in-house PR staff, works with an agency or has media relations volunteers, consider these tips to help create strong, long-term relations with journalists.
- Journalists are people. No two are alike (and neither are any two media outlets). Remember this when you are reaching out to pitch a story. Think beyond your short-term goal of generating immediate coverage and start a conversation to build a long-term relationship. Get to know the journalist, learn what they like and how they prefer to be contacted.
- Know a journalist’s work. While this tip may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many skip this important step. Being aware of past coverage will allow you to propose story angles that are much more relevant. It will also prevent you from pitching stories outside of a journalist’s beat or proposing an idea that he or she has already covered.
- Offer meetings of introduction. If you’re a fan of a particular journalist but haven’t worked with him or her before, consider offering a brief telephone call with your spokesperson. You can also invite the journalist out for coffee after work or at a conference. The goal is to start building a rapport and share your organization’s expertise, which could lead to coverage down the road.
- Go social. These days, many journalists are engaging with fans on Twitter, Facebook and beyond. Many enjoy exchanging messages about their stories – it shows you actually read or watch their content! This helps build long-term relationships.
- Make your pitch count. When you’re ready to pitch a story, be sure to reach out to the right journalists with the right information. Be clear and concise for mainstream journalists and provide supporting material for reporters and bloggers who are new to the company’s story. Always have a story hook, support it with facts and link it to a current topic being discussed in the news when possible.
- Summarize supporting materials. Providing reporters with background information is good, but keeping it brief is better. Journalists are constantly pressed for time and may pass on pitches with too many reference documents to review. Instead, summarize your background materials into a briefing note of one or two pages. This will also help you highlight the important points. Alongside the summary, provide a list of documents used to prepare the briefing note and available URLs.
- Pick up the phone (don’t be shy). Many journalists prefer to be pitched by email. But with so many organizations competing for attention, it is possible your email could get overlooked in an active inbox on a busy news day. Unless a journalist has specifically asked for no calls, picking up the phone can help draw attention to your story.
- Offer added value. If you know an expert who could add color to a story now or in the future, say so and offer to make an introduction. It will save the journalist time and lowers their resistance for the next time you call to chat.
- Always say thank you. Whenever a journalist takes time to speak with you, thank him or her for taking the time. Ditto for coverage. This is just common courtesy and helps strengthen those relationships.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a journalist’s ally and building connections with the media, don’t hesitate to reach out – I would love to chat!