As I celebrate my one-year anniversary at Bianchi PR and my first year in the PR industry I’ve come to realize a major part of the firm’s success after 20 years stems from the relationships the BPR team has developed with industry peers and (especially) with the media.
1. Get to Know Them
In any new relationship, you always ask questions about the other person in order to get to know them better. Getting to know the reporter you’re pitching is just the same. Research the publication and the reporter’s articles to figure out what beats they cover and make sure your story will be of interest.
2. First Impressions
Your first time contacting or meeting a reporter, whether it’s in person or by email, sets the tone for your relationship. Make sure you have your ducks in a row. Reporters are always working on tight deadlines, so you don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
3. Show What You Have to Offer
Start with a specific opportunity and stick with the facts. Reporters don’t have the time to go through long pages of text. If you have a strong, news story don’t inflate it with filler and fluff. Get to the point.
When pitching a reporter it’s important to be exclusive. Avoid pre-packaged stories. Reporters have competition (just like you do) and tend to look for stories they can develop as their own.
5. Invest Time and Energy
To be successful in media relations, you need to focus on making your relationship with a reporter grow. It may be a while before your pitch. The first time you pitch a story, they might not be interested. Try to find out why and keep at it. Read what they write, follow their work.
If your pitch is a success and you get an article/interview opportunity, be sure to follow-up as soon as possible. Provide any additional information they need or asked for…and don’t forget to thank the reporter.
7. Take Initiative / Plan Ahead
A reporter will almost always have more questions or need more quotes, images, examples, facts or figures for the story. Always think across the board – from words to visuals. Have these materials ready and easy to access. This will continue to build a stronger relationship if they know they can count on you to come through.
8. Communication is Key
Be available and responsive. Reporters are busy, so be quick and ready to respond to inquiries and requests that same day – if not within the hour.
Relationships with the media are the same as any others. What you put in is what you get out. You have to work at them. It takes time and effort, but the reality is you should treat media the same as you would treat a client, because in a sense, they are your customers.