Once you corral a reporter, ask these 5 important questions

Diminishing newsroom staffing and the demands of a 24-hour news cycle make face time with a journalist a rarity. These key queries can make your encounter rewarding.

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Journalists can be difficult to track down.

Owing to barriers created by email, voicemail and social media, combined with the increasing demands of the job of reporting, a PR pro is more likely to see Bigfoot than to get 30 minutes of face time with a flesh-and-blood reporter—or so the industry joke goes.

Here are five things you should discuss when you get that chance:

1. What are you working on?

This isn’t just for polite conversation. You want to know exactly what the reporter is working on these days, how they are covering the stories, what interests them, what’s topical and what their needs will be.

2. What kind of challenges are you facing?

Go beyond the usual issues of time limitations and the constant bombardment of misguided pitches from other PR people.

Get to the root the real struggles of the job—the work involved with identifying and developing good stories, finding resources to make their jobs easier, the demands their editors impose, the increasing emphasis on social media sharing and the need to generate web traffic, and the challenge of selling a good story to decision-makers inside the news organization.

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