Don’t Just Pitch and Run — Develop Relationships with the Media

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Sending out a press release ain’t what it used to be. Today’s automation allows us to hit send and a press release will magically appear in hundreds of reporters’ inboxes. Done. Tell the client that you reached that targeted list of reporters. Yeah, right. Your press release and thousands of others just hit that reporter’s inbox – your odds are it will never be opened.

Here’s a few things to know about reporters. There are fewer of them in every newsroom, they have to cover more than ever, and they don’t like to be spammed!

A better way to get coverage for your company or client is to learn more about reporters as individuals. What do they cover? What stories are they interested in? If they’re local, you could even meet and buy them a cup of coffee.

Here are some suggestions to developing an ongoing relationship with the media:

  • Research the appropriate reporter at a media outlet. Make sure the outlet and the reporter cover stories about your industry. Once you identify the right reporter, do a little more research. Reporters are easy to find on social media and their past stories should be read to get a sense of what interests them. Also, make sure you spell their name correctly.
  • Develop a short email pitch that is meaningful to the reporter. Make sure it’s factual and brief. A catchy subject line helps get noticed in that mass of emails. Again, short and to the point is best and be helpful. One follow-up might be okay if you really think the reporter would like the story. But if you don’t hear back just assume they saw it and aren’t interested.
  • Once you work a few stories with a particular reporter, try to get to know them better and see what other types of stories and sources would be useful to them. A PR person’s role is to help coordinate this process with the media – to supply experts and/or additional content and background on a particular topic.

Reporters may not be interested in everything you send them even if you have a good working relationship. However, they will be more apt to open an email from a solid source who has been helpful in the past … or who has taken the time to get to know them.