Long-term relationships with the media are the most valuable. Over time, you can earn the trust of reporters by building a rapport with them. Once you’ve gained their trust and established that relationship, they’re likelier to pay attention to what you have to say, and of course, this increases your chances of getting the media coverage you so desire.
This begs the question, “How can you maintain long-term relationships with key members of the media?” Here are some tips to help you out.
1. Identify influential reporters in your niche – What audiences do you want to reach? Which reporters does your target audience read? Make a list of the influential reporters in your niche, and prioritize it according to the level of importance. Which media members do you really want to reach? Put them on top of the list. Remember, a targeted list is much more effective than a long, generic list of media members.
2. Keep your media lists up to date – Media contacts are constantly changing. Reporters get shifted to new assignments, move on to new jobs, and so on. It’s important that you maintain your media list on a regular basis to keep all your contact information updated. Otherwise, when it comes time to pitch a story, you won’t have anyone to pitch it to.
3. Respect the reporter’s time – Reporters are constantly busy, and time is money. They are always up against deadlines, and for freelancer reporters, the faster they get the story done, the more money they make. Respect the time of your media contacts. Yes, you want to build a relationship with them, but when they’re up against a deadline, the last thing they want to do is chit-chat with you.
4. Be there when they need you – Relationships are a two-way street. It’s not just about you reaching out to the media when you have a story to tell. You also need to be there for them. Sometimes, a reporter may call you for a comment on another story or for a tip or something else. You need to be there for them whenever they need you. That’s how you build a true relationship and establish yourself as a quality source.
5. Stay in touch on a regular basis – Sometimes, building media relationships is as simple as just letting them know you’re around. Just introduce yourself to the right reporters, offer suggestions about specific story angles that you’re an expert in, and just try to get listed on their contact list as an expert source for a particular topic. They can’t contact you if they don’t know you exist.
6. Know the science of news – You need to become a connoisseur of the news. Study the news. Look at how stories are told. Watch the angles taken on stories, and pay attention to how experts are weaved into the stories to move them forward. This can help you interact properly with the media.
7. Never lie to a reporter – Don’t stretch the truth, spin, comment on something you don’t really know about, or anything along those lines. When you lie, you put the reporter’s credibility at stake because their name is on the line with every story they publish. And that’s something they’ll never forget.
What are some of your best tactics for cultivating strong media relationships?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html