Building relationships with reporters doesn’t happen over night. It takes time and effort, and requires that your PR firm or in-house team consistently help them do their jobs and keep them happy.
In our experience in working with the news media, we have learned that there are five things that will keep a smile on a reporter’s face:
1. Do your research
If you read our blog post on five ways to annoy a reporter, then you know a little research can go a long way. Before your PR team pitches a reporter, it’s important that they research the outlets and contacts to ensure they are a good fit to pursue. That means understanding the topics a reporter covers, as well as the types of content the publication shares. We suggest creating a media contact list. That way when news stories pop up, you already have a list of reporters that are relevant to your topic.
2. Respect a reporter’s deadline
Reporters operate on tight deadlines. For some media formats – TV news and daily newspapers, in particular – it is common for reporters not to know what they’re covering until the day of. Respecting their deadlines will keep you on their good side, and they will be more likely to work with you again.
3. Help the reporter understand the “why” in what you’re pitching
Reporters receive dozens or even hundreds of pitches a day. They don’t have time to read through an entire email to know why a story is important. Include the “why” in the first couple of sentences. Doing so will greatly increase that they respond to your email.
4. Keep your pitches short and sweet
A reporter also doesn’t have time to read a 10-page press release – especially if it is written poorly. If you want to prevent a reporter from rolling their eyes and hitting the delete button, keep your pitches short and free of grammatical errors. Getting a second pair of eyes to look over your pitch will pay off. Hiring someone who knows how to write in the language of the media, or hiring a PR agency, might be what it takes for you to generate positive responses from a reporter.
5. Allow them to do their job
If a reporter shows up for an interview, allow them to do their job without micromanaging them. A reporter will be pleased to know you trust them to cover the story, and in return will trust you as a valued source.
Keep these five things in mind the next time your company’s PR firm or in-house team sends out a pitch or press release, and you’ll be on your way to creating and building a successful relationship with reporters.