7 crucial questions journalists should pose to PR pros

Asking about deadlines, accessibility and the ‘next big thing’ should be standard procedure for reporters and producers, yet they are often overlooked.

When you work with reporters almost daily, you learn a lot of about the media industry.

You pick up nuances about publications and outlets and the working styles of particular reporters. You also get asked a lot of questions, and that’s OK, because we ask a ton right back. Many are unsurprising; some should be asked more often, as they deliver vital information.

Here are seven key questions that journalists in every medium should ask PR pros:

1. “Can you send this to me by X time on Y date?” Broadly speaking in the business world, it’s helpful to state when you’ll need something. It’s particularly helpful in media relations for reporters to set deadlines from the get-go. We’re going to ask anyway, so including it in an original request saves a few emails and a bunch of time.

2. “Which other clients do you work with?” If you’re working with PR pros at agencies, it’s wise to ask which other clients or projects they’re working with. Often, they represent similar clients to those you already know about. The PR pro may have a line into another executive or spokesperson you’ll want to interview later (or pass along to a colleague).

3. “Can I meet with him/her?” The preferred follow-up question to the previous one, though it can also apply in other situations.

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4. “What should I be on the lookout for?” Only a few reporters I’ve worked with have asked a spokesperson about upcoming milestones for his or her firm or macroeconomic/industry events to keep on the radar. If a top executive working in a firm or industry you cover is anticipating something, maybe you should, too.

5. “What else should I know about?” Asking this question leaves it open-ended for interview subjects to talk about what’s on their minds—and sometimes that’s more interesting than the original topic.

6. “Can you confirm this?” Most reporters are meticulous about fact-checking, but sometimes inaccurate information has to be corrected. Rarely do speedy and detail-oriented come together successfully, but both are crucial to our industries. PR pros should take extra time to review, and reporters should feel free to fact check diligently.

7. “What’s up?” This helps put the “relations” back into “media relations.” You tend to work better with people you know better, so cultivating relationships (on both sides) is helpful in understanding each other’s working styles and personalities.

What other questions should journalists ask PR pros?

Julia Sahin works in financial communications at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. Connect with her on Twitter. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

Topics: PR


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