As communications professionals, a key part of our day-to-day lives involves liaising directly with journalists. Here at 8020, as a specialist travel PR agency with a focus across aviation, travel technology and much more, we work with a wide network of journalists from various sectors, so it is important that we craft and manage relationships with key journalists in specific areas. Here are our tips on how you can exhibit stronger media relations skills.
At the end of the day, journalists are just like you and I and they respond best when they are treated with respect. Forbes published an article outlining the do’s and don’ts when pitching to journalists and one of the key points made is to be personal when you’re pitching a story. For the most part, our first interaction with a journalist will be an email or phone call, and there is no bigger turn-off for a journalist than receiving a ‘shotgun’ pitch that you’ve mass-mailed to your entire contact list. Take a more personal approach and contact each journalist individually, providing each of them with a unique reason as to why they should run your story.
Know what they write about
It’s important that you do your research when pitching to a journalist and know what areas they typically cover. It might require a little more of your time to create a tailored pitch, but not only will the journalist in question appreciate receiving your story, but you will also have a go-to contact the next time a similar story comes in. Pitching a story to a journalist you have individually targeted is part of an ethical approach to media relations, in which a story is successfully sold on its merits to journalists to whom it is most relevant.
Familiarise yourself with the publication
As well as researching the journalist you are pitching to, it’s vital that you familiarise yourself with the publication they write for. Are there any regular profile columns? Does it accept contributed articles? Does it have an editorial calendar? Essentially, if you don’t regularly read the media, how are you going to be able to know who to pitch your exciting story to? Put aside half an hour each day to scan a tier one publication and look out for areas that your clients can contribute to.
Arrange to meet them
All relationships require a physical presence in order to flourish and meeting a journalist the old-fashioned way over a coffee or a pint is going to do wonders for your working relationship. The next time you pitch a story to one of your key contacts why don’t you propose meeting for breakfast? Mornings are typically the best time to meet a journalist because they are yet to get bogged down in their workload and, who knows, they might like your story so much that the first thing they do upon returning to the office is write it up!
Adhere to deadlines
In our industry, something we should be very adept at is working to a deadline. The same is true of journalists and absolutely nothing aggravates them more than receiving yet another email from the same PR asking for an extension. Sometimes asking for an extension is unavoidable, we’ve all been there, but if this becomes a habit, no journalist is going to want to work with you. Make sure you do everything in your power to adhere to a deadline and if you think you might be cutting it fine, then inform the journalist in good time. This way they might be more understanding and agree to offer you that precious extension.