In my blog on How to Build Your Media List, I only briefly touched on the importance of getting to know the media contacts you want to connect with, but it’s actually the first and most important step in creating strong media relationships.
Everybody likes to know when someone has taken the time to get to know them and their interests and even more so when you are a journalist or reporter who is inundated with pitches and press releases that for the most part have nothing to do with the kind of stories you cover.
So before I share the 4 keys to starting media relationships, I just have to reiterate that you must first get to know the media through their website, social media or otherwise so you have a good foot in the door when you approach them.
Key #1: Do the work
Pitching a story idea is one thing, but if you can supply facts, stats, contact information for other resources who can be interviewed, then that will surely get you on the media’s good side. When you really put in the effort to work with the media on your story and not leave everything up to them, they really appreciate it and it puts you top of mind for future stories.
Key #2: Share news and information
You don’t always need to pitching media or trying to get coverage. If you come across an interesting article or make an acquaintance who would make a good source for a journalist you are trying to build a relationships with, go ahead and pass on that information. Don’t be annoying with it, but make sure the information is helpful, relevant and timely.
Key #3: Invite them out
This may be a huge step for some, but don’t hesitate to invite a journalist or editor out for coffee or even to accompany you to a networking event where they could make some solid contacts of their own. Nothing works magic on a relationship like good, old fashioned, face-to-face contact. You don’t have to be after media coverage on any particular story either, remember you’re building a two-way relationship so your sole purpose for getting together could be just to see how you can help with any current or future stories, offer some industry information or seek out other sources for quotes, comments or interviews.
Key #4: Stay flexible and available
I’ll never forget the time I was called by a major newspaper in my community for information on one of our organization’s award recipients and it made the cover of the paper! The editor let me know that it was because I responded right away and acted quickly that we made the cover, otherwise, they would have moved on to place another story. Sometimes the media comes at you last minute and catches you off guard, but this is not the time to put up defences for whatever else you’re doing, unless it’s a life or death matter. When you start engaging in media relations, remember you are ultimately trying to get them to call or respond to you. So keep your phone handy, stay on your email, twitter or messenger and be ready to provide them whatever information they need.
These 4 keys are sure to get you the media attention you need. Always think about how you can be a helpful and cooperative resource to the media you want to connect with by providing timely and relevant information, sharing in their work and interests and keeping your door open for ongoing communication.