Good old face-to-face interaction with journalists is one of the most important value-adds a PR consultant can offer a client if they want to be successful at pitching corporate stories to media.
Journalists should be included as key public stakeholders in a communications plan, so it only makes sense to build rapport with them.
Before I joined the corporate world, I was a TV journalist and received many pitches from PR professionals. The respectful communications associates called me in the morning before I was assigned or working on a story. The amateur ones annoyingly called while I was in the middle of deadline and filing my stories. Those names went on a “don’t pick up” list.
I did however keep a contact list of those media relations officials who took time out of their day to invest in me. We went for coffee or drinks, or they invited me to cool events that would pique my interest. They knew me, and I got to know them, which meant if they had a pitch, I was ready to listen.
Journalists have a built in “ugh” meter when they get calls from needy PR practitioners.
You really only get one chance to impress the “press” with a pitch so save your reputation by getting to know the reporters in your city before you call.
1. Face-to-face. Take a reporter out for a coffee or drink once a week. I set these up weeks in advance to make sure I am not interfering with their deadlines. I come with no agenda other than to say hello and to develop relationships with journalists I don’t know. You can’t expect a reporter to accept your cold pitch if you have never taken the time to invest in building a relationship. It’s a small personal touch that goes a long way.
2. Acknowledgment. If you notice a great story posted by a journalist in your community, acknowledge it. This is their craft, after all, and every artist needs a little affirmation once in a while. Niketa Patel, Partnership Manager, News, Twitter shares some great tips on the latest Muck Rack webinar about how journalists are using Twitter.
3. Become a reliable source. Once in a while, flip a reporter a good story or source. It’s another relationship building tool, plus the source you offer up will also speak positively about you to the reporter.
A communications executive willing to have some social interaction with a journalist will go a long way in building relationships not only for you, but also your client.
Darryl Konynenbelt is the Media Lead at Navigator Ltd. in Toronto. He media coaches senior executives and individuals on current events, public affairs and crisis management.
Photo: Two businessmen via Shutterstock