By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
In honor and celebration of the 4th of July I thought we’d cover 4 Tips for Working with Journalists this week!
- The first thing to keep in mind is that journalists, whether print, TV or even bloggers, are just people – like you and me. For many people unfamiliar with working with media, making a pitch call or coordinating an interview can be nerve wracking. Before you make a call, take a deep breath and try to relax. Think of the call as if you were simply calling a colleague. I promise, they won’t bite.
- Do your homework. One of the biggest pet peeves I’ve heard from journalist colleagues is getting pitches that so off topic from what they cover. Newspapers have a contact list that offers what beat or topic each reporter covers. Most news stations have something similar available or they can send it to you if you ask. Bloggers offer a clear description of what they cover (generally in the blog title) in their about section. Just remember how irritating it is when you get spam mail that has nothing to do with you (i.e. food discount for a restaurant located in another state). That’s how they feel when you send them a news release on something they don’t cover.
- Be respectful – of the person and their time. Journalists, believe it or not, aren’t there to make our lives easier. Their job is to cover news and share important things with their readers and/or viewers. Keep this in mind when you get frustrated when a story you pitched isn’t picked up. Also, consider their time as equally valuable as yours. If you need to call a journalist, the first thing out of your mouth after “hello” should be “do you have a moment to talk?” They could be on deadline or headed into a meeting. If you’re respectful they’ll appreciate it and you can determine a better time to call – when you might actually be able to seal the deal and get your story on their radar.
- Foster relationships! One of the most important parts of working with media is fostering relationships. Going back to point number one, journalists are people. They don’t want to be or feel used – just like you don’t. When a new editor joins your local newspaper, shoot them an email or call them just to welcome them. Be sure it’s clear you don’t want anything. Connect with reporters based on their interests. Say hello when you see them in public or at networking events. The more they see your face and/or your name, the more of a connection you have – which also translates into a higher likelihood that they will review your releases/stories when the come into their inbox.
A little bonus tip: Research journalists who are active in social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Some prefer to be pitched or communicate that way. Conversely, they sometimes share interview requests/their needs on those platforms.
Working with journalists doesn’t have to be scary or hard. Keep these 4 tips in mind the next time you send a news release or work with media and it should be a bit easier. Best of luck!
If you have questions or need a little help getting your message out, you can always contact us for help.