In this video, Andrea Holland shares how to build and create positive relationships with reporters.
- I remember sitting in my office years ago when I received a call from the Wall Street Journal. My team was there, and half of them sat in utter shock, looking at the caller ID. "Is the Wall Street Journal proactively calling you?" one of my team members asked. They were shocked that a reporter wanted to talk to a PR person without having to send five emails and banging down their door. They wondered how I built such a good relationship with this reporter. Whether it is a family member, a friend, or reporter, a relationship is a relationship.
To build a relationship, think about the first thing you typically do. Introduce yourself, see if you have common interests, figure out if there is a way you can help and support each other. Now you may be thinking, Andrea, I can't just cold call a reporter and say, "Hi, what are your interests?" You're right, that would be awkward. Here's a few methods you can follow when building relationships with reporters. Download handout 05_01 for a more comprehensive list. First, you want to build a rapport.
Some reporters prefer to interact on social media first before they receive a pitch. Why? Think about it this way. If you received 500 emails a day, you're more likely to open the email from somebody whose name you recognize. I like to use Twitter to chat with reporters. It's a tool that allows full accessibility to people you wouldn't normally be able to talk to. Keep your exchanges informal and genuine. Reporters don't want to talk shop 24/7 either. Your goal is to build a rapport beyond professional expertise, whether it starts with a funny exchange about a t-shirt or global warming.
Next, you want to work to create a shared experience. This is where bonding takes place. If you're in the area of where a reporter lives, invite a friend or colleague to coffee or a meal, and if you haven't worked together yet, just say that and explain why you're interested in meeting them. Generally, people are receptive to honest, upfront intentions. Being face to face with somebody provides depth and context that you just can't get online. Finally, pay it forward. How would you feel if the only time you ever heard from somebody was when they needed something.
You'd probably feel a little put off. It's no different with reporters. To create a relationship that doesn't feel so transactional, pay it forward. There are endless ways you can do this. If you hear they need a source for a story and you know somebody, introduce them. If you read one of their articles and love it, share it with your network. Find ways to make their job easier. You never know, maybe one day they'll need something from you. There are thousands of subject matter experts just like you pitching the press every single day.
Build rapport, create shared experiences, and pay it forward to stand out from the rest. You will be rewarded not only with published content but maybe even some great friends along the way.
- Defining your audience
- Contacting publications
- Creating an offer
- Following up
- Writing for PR