Sustaining a good working relationship with a journalist

November 21, 2013

Good relationships with the media are vital to successful PR projects. If a journalist takes notice when they get an email from you – you are ahead of the game. People pitching stories approach the media all the time. But how does one get a journalist onside?

There are a few things that you can do to maintain a happy and mutually beneficial relationship with the media when pitching and working on features and projects.

1. Make sure you are targeting the right media contacts. No one likes an inbox full of emails that are irrelevant to him or her. Use professional databases in order to track down the name and contact details of the person you should be in touch with. If your story is about transport – contact the transport specialist. 

2. Provide high quality material. Journalists will appreciate receiving copy at the right length and in the right format. If you can accompany this with quotes and images then even better. Journalists like facts, do your research and provide them with ready information that they can use.

3. Offer exclusive stories. It’s a competitive world out there in the media and journalists will usually be very keen to get their hands on a story that is just for them, even if it is for a set period of time before it is distributed more widely.

4. Don’t submit copy late for a deadline. Client and customer approvals can take longer than anticipated – we’ve all been there. If you know a piece isn’t going to be ready, get in touch with the journalist or editor to let them know and give them an idea of when it might be submitted. They will normally allow you an extension if they can but if time is tight, they will need to fill the slot with something else!

5. Say thank you. This is something we probably all forget to do but it’s worthwhile. Our relationship with the journalist needs to carry on past the submission date. We want to keep in touch with journalists and being professional and courteous is important. 

The main aim is to build up some trust and understanding. Once you have worked with a journalist a few times they will know whether or not they can rely on you. If they can trust you to meet deadlines and you can trust them to publish things in the way and context that you and the client expect – everyone happy!

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