Want to get coverage for your press release or important story? Then don’t do what everyone does—pitch all the livelong day, and not actually speak to anyone. Instead, focus on developing a relationship with journalists, and you may be surprised at the results.
1. Don’t pitch
Again, don’t pitch all the time. It’s obviously necessary, but don’t bombard them. In fact, if you adhere to the following tips enough, they’ll probably start pitching YOU.
2. Reference their work
Want someone to feel important? Then talk about what drives them. For journalists, this includes past stories and columns they’ve written. You don’t have to memorize every word, but rest assured a little reference to past work will make them smile … and remember your name.
3. Talk to them like humans
Reporters are super busy, so don’t flood their inbox with inane banter. But on the occasions when you talk to them, don’t just stick to business. Ask them how their kids are doing in the school play, or if that big story they were working on panned out.
4. Learn their schedule
Speaking of being busy, learn what times and days it’s best to talk. This includes knowing when to call and when just to email. Not only will they appreciate you took the time, you also stand a chance to actually get a hold of them when you need to.
5. Offer your service
This is a particularly important one. Offering to help them when they need it makes reporters’ lives much easier. This can include anything from being a source to helping find facts about your industry for a story. When the time comes to fill in a story, they’ll come to you.
6. Comment on their stories
Another way to help reporters get their stories noticed is to comment on their website (if they have one). This can create a dialogue between the two of you, and even a real rapport. If their site is relevant to your followers, share it on Facebook and Twitter.
7. Be on call
If you’re actively helping out a reporter, remember to be on call. You expect them to answer the phone at suppertime and seven in the morning, so return the favor. If they call on your vacation, answer the phone!
8. Write a story for them
Want to really get on their good side? Don’t just send in a press release for your story, go ahead and write the whole thing for them. This way there’s a big chunk of work that’s already done. Make sure it’s well written, and you follow the style of their publication.
9. Speak clearly and concisely
When a reporter does contact you, don’t ramble on a thousand miles an hour. Make sure you know what you want to say, and say it with clarity and conciseness. Don’t give them an excuse to dump the story because they need to call you back for clarification on a few points.
10. Be nice
Above all, be civil and polite. You’re busy, the reporter is busy—everyone is busy. That’s no reason to be rude. Even if the person on the other end seems harried, being extra calm and nice on your end usually does them in. Keep in mind the old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar.