8 essential steps when a reporter says ‘yes’

Developing and landing a story pitch are just the beginning. Making the most of the opportunity requires planning, diligence and carefully guiding the journalist toward conveying your message.

You’ve sent out that perfect pitch, and the reporter has expressed interest.

You’re excited—as you should be. You do a happy dance around your office.

Then it hits you: Now what?

The work doesn’t end after researching and crafting the pitch and capturing a reporter’s attention. So, what are your next steps?

Here’s how to make the most of any coverage opportunities that come your way:

1. RSVP. If a reporter responds to your outreach, get back to him or her promptly. Even if you don’t have all the answers to every question, at acknowledge the message and say you’re working on responding. If you wait, the opportunity may disappear because he or she will have moved on to the next story or source on their list.

2. Provide what they need. Before you reach out to journalists, have your images, logos, customer references and any other information ready so you can fulfill their requests right away.

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3. Prepare for the interview. Do research on the reporter. Look at what he or she has written to get a sense of his or her style. Read his or her bio. Think about what questions he or she may ask—and what answers you’ll give. It doesn’t hurt to prepare a Q&A document to refer to and rehearse answers, especially for tougher questions.

4. Listen more than you talk. During the interview, you want to make sure you don’t talk too much. We may have all been on media calls with clients who, despite coaching to the contrary, seem to do all the talking. That’s not a good move, especially if you want to build a relationship with the reporter. Let the reporter drive the discussion. Of course, you do want to answer their questions and work in your “nuggets” (see point No. 5), but don’t overdo it.

5. Work in your “nuggets.” What are the top three things you want this reporter to take away from your interview? If nothing else, what three key messages—or nuggets—do you want written up? Open and close with those essentials, and weave them in throughout the interview, as much as it makes sense to do.

6. Wrapping up. When you wrap up the interview, ask whether the reporter needs anything else—images, customer references, etc. See No. 2 so you’re prepared to send these over immediately after the interview. Also during the wrap-up, ask when the article or interview might appear. You can then follow up to get copies, if it’s a print publication, or inform your audiences when it will air, if it’s a broadcast interview.

7. Follow up. When reporters do need something, get them the requested information as soon as possible. If they contact you with questions following the interview, get right back to them with the answers (or reply to say you’re working on getting them the answers—refer to No. 1). Even if they don’t ask follow-up questions, send a quick email to thank them for their time and ask whether there’s anything else they need.

8. Promote Your PR. When the article appears, blast it out via social media, post it on your site, share with your sales team and employees—let your audiences know it’s out there. You worked hard to secure it; now make the most of it. Tag the reporter and publication in your social media posts.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to building a relationship with reporters and producers so the next time they need an expert source, they’ll call you first.

Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. 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.

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Topics: PR


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