As a PR practitioner, you are probably aware that the success of the organization that you represent mainly depends on media relations. A journalist who is affiliated with an important outlet is the one who disseminates the message of your organization to the masses.
The Nature of the Working Relationship Between PR Professionals and Journalists
PR professionals and journalists regularly interact with each other because their work is in the same industry. Hence, in order for you to gain the necessary coverage for an organization, you should maintain a strong relationship with them. However, different people have different opinions regarding the quality of the relationship that the two have.
According to Brooke Carbo, who is Anniston Star’s features reporter and copy editor, it is important for you to maintain a strong working relationship with each PR professional. PR practitioners play a vital role in providing journalists with the most exclusive information such as key sources, statistics, and pictures.
However, the exchange of information must not go beyond there because the journalist who reports the news about any organization can tarnish his/her credibility if a relationship is too close.
The Importance of Growing a Relationship with a Journalist
According to PR practitioners, there are different philosophies about the maintenance of relationships with journalists. Some prefer to call a news outlet blindly in order to gather information or pitch a story instead of making an effort to build relationships.
You may need to use this method occasionally. However, you will only get your work noticed if you create a relationship. According to Armon Drysdale, who is a Public Relations consultant, the following are the benefits of growing a relationship with a journalist:
1) The development of a regular relationship with journalists at all the major media outlets in your geographical area is an excellent way of gaining consistent coverage. In addition, since younger journalists are willing to do their best to write a story that you pitch to them, they are great contacts for you to have. A young reporter will be glad to reciprocate when you provide him/her with a newsworthy and reliable lead.
2) Having a relationship with a seasoned journalist is also beneficial because of his/her extensive network. Such a journalist will be eager to produce a story that you pitch to him/her if you use a message that pertains to his/her particular beat to pique his/her interest.
3) A seasoned journalist at a newspaper always has his/her finger on the pulse of his/her particular beat and hence, he/she can be a kicker card for you. This journalist frequently has the ear of his/her editor and hence, he/she will enthusiastically turn your pitch into a major story.
How to Grow and Foster a Relationship with a Journalist
Any working relationship with a journalist usually starts with a pitch. A PR professional spends a lot of time trying to craft the perfect pitch to news outlets that highlight the intended message in a creative manner. However, according to Carbo, journalists want newsworthy and significant information for a front-page cover.
From a journalist’s viewpoint, what gets a message covered is the pitch’s potential impact and not the amount of time/effort placed on the perfection of the pitch. Hence, if you want to build a relationship with a journalist in Public Relations, you should start by following a few simple tips.
Becoming a Distributor/Reader of the Work of the Journalist
You should read almost any advice that a journalist gives to PR practitioners in order to get some context. According to reports by Harvard Business Review, the average amount of email that any major news outlet receives is three times. There is plenty of irrelevant noise on the topics that journalists cover.
Hence, the easiest thing that you can do is for you to become an ardent fan of a relevant journalist first. You should also note that print journalists may write long or short form on social networks because they also have a tendency of having personal blogs and digital responsibilities. You should find multiple sources in order to read the work of a journalist. You can then use other means to get alerts or subscribe to the sources via newsletter and RSS feed as soon as you find them.
In addition, you can also use email and your social distribution channels to share the content of the writer in order to show your support for it.
Interacting in Social Media
Social media offers an unprecedented level of accessibility. The fact that journalists use Twitter as well as other social media platforms are vital for the PR profession. Social media does not only make the sharing of low-key social interactions possible, but it also offers you a means of staying up-to-date with the interests of journalists.
Therefore, if you want to grow and foster an active relationship with journalists, you should ensure that the engagements you have with them are genuine and informal, no matter the topic.
On a conclusive note, always ensure that you build the relationship in a gradual manner to make it strong and long-lasting. Also, adopting an open-minded approach will definitely guarantee success in the task.