Tips for being approachable and building relationships with journalists
Building great relationships with journalists can be invaluable for your career in PR – the contacts you have and the network you build can amplify your chances of success when it comes to getting coverage/interviews for your clients. As a B2B PR agency, we’re well versed in building great relationships with media. Here’s our advice:
Think of it as making friends; the same principles apply with building journalist contacts. Find journalists of a similar age to you, with similar interests. You don’t want to turn into an uber stalker, but checking out their social media profiles will give you a good indication as to what they might be interested in and how they might be as a person.
Once you’ve found a potential contact that you want to build a relationship with, send them an email or message them on Twitter – but remember to keep it chilled and friendly. Let them know about some of the clients you’re working with – to reinforce your relevancy – and suggest going for drinks or lunch.
Journalists usually are fairly receptive to offers like these – and they are just as interested in building connections with you, as you are with them. Once they accept your invite, then it’s just a case of meeting up, being yourself, and hopefully getting on well. Almost like dating to an extent!
Don’t sit down, pick up your knife and fork, and launch into talking about clients – it’s not that formal. It’s more a case of seeing if you get on, exploring interesting topics (after all, they’ll have a beat that your clients will naturally be interested in) and hopefully having a good time. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier getting in touch with journalists with regards to news stories in future if you know them. It’s also worth noting that if you prove yourself valuable enough, journalists might even start coming to you for stories, rather than the other way around – which makes your job so much easier. It’s also impressive if you can give clients feedback directly from the horse’s mouth – this kind of exclusive media insight is precious.
These contacts can also be useful if you’re under pressure from a client. If, for example, you’re down on a KPI or need some quick coverage – existing contacts can undoubtedly help.
It could just be a case of sending a text to someone you know at a publication asking for a favour. This request is much harder if you don’t have a relationship, and there’s a 99 percent chance the journalist would ignore you.
Once you start to meet with more journalists, your confidence will grow, and you will start building your network. You then have to work at maintaining it; try and meet up with these people on a relatively regular basis, to see what they’re up to and what’s changed with them job-wise. And hopefully, as the relationship grows, they’ll be interested in hearing the same from you!
Looking for more advice? Get in touch with Luke, Head of Digital PR and SEO.