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In the current era of ever-evolving digital mediabuilding relationships with journalists remains more important than ever.
Journalists are constantly inundated with pitches, press releases, and coverage requests, making it difficult to make one message stand out. But with a strong relationship, your message is more likely to be heard and given the attention it deserves.
The truth is that journalists are trendsetters – the driving force behind many of the trends and patterns we see on social media and in everyday life. They are the gatekeepers of what’s in, what’s out, and what new material will appear in their publications and online platforms. Establishing real relationships with them is crucial to your success in the media.
As with any successful relationship, building a relationship with a journalist requires open communication, trust and sincerity. But most importantly, it requires work and care. Building relationships with journalists can help establish your brand as an opinion leader in your field.
By providing journalists with valuable insights and commentary, you can position yourself as an expert in your industry. This will lead to increased media coverage, speaking engagements and other opportunities to help you grow your brand and establish yourself as a leader.
Related: Avoid These 10 Things That Annoy Journalists
1. Do your research
Before contacting a journalist, it’s important to do your research to understand what kind of stories they cover, their target audience, and the type of information they prefer – be it informative, entertaining, or otherwise. By tailoring your post to the journalist’s interests and needs, you’re more likely to grab their attention and get a response.
If you want to build a relationship with a journalist, think about what it takes to bond. In other words, identify their interests and understand why these interests are important to them by reading their past work. Pay attention to the patterns in the types of stories they cover, the angles they take, and the sources they cite. You can also follow the journalist on their social media profiles, such as Twitter and Instagram, to get an idea of their personality and interests.
2. Personalize your pitch
Once you’ve done your research on a journalist you want to build a relationship with, it’s time to write your pitch. Generic, one-size-fits-all pitches are unlikely to catch their attention. Instead, take the time to tailor your pitch to the journalist’s interests and needs.
Start by addressing the journalist by name and referencing a recent article they wrote to show you’ve done your research and are familiar with their work. Then explain why your story is relevant to both their current pace and audience, using specific examples and data or other evidence to support your claims.
Finally, offer yourself as the source for the story. Provide a brief biography and explain why you are ideally qualified to speak on the subject.
Related: 5 things you should never say to a journalist
3. Be responsive
Journalists often have tight deadlines and will likely need a quick response from you to get your story published. Once you’ve submitted your pitch, your communication isn’t over – you should be available if the journalist needs to ask follow-up questions or verify information you provide them.
If the journalist chooses not to cover your story for any reason, his responsiveness will make him stand out. This is just as important to build a lasting relationship with them. Journalists are more likely to remember sources that are easy to work with and provide useful information, even if they don’t end up using them in their stories.
4. Follow up, but don’t be pushy
A few days after you originally submitted your pitch, contact the journalist by sending a polite email to check the status of your pitch. Don’t be pushy by texting them every day or even every two or three days. If you still haven’t heard from the journalist after your second or third follow-up email, it’s time to consider ending that relationship.
When following up with journalists, make sure you don’t come across as aggressive and make it clear that you are following up only as a friendly reminder. Refer to your previous email and ask if they’ve had a chance to review your pitch. If they’re still interested, they’ll probably respond with a quick update on the status. If they’re not interested, it’s best to move on and focus on building relationships with other journalists.
Related: 5 ways to get journalists to actually want to publish your brand’s stories
5. Offer value beyond your own interests
As with any healthy relationship, journalists aren’t just about what value they can give you – it’s also about what value you can give them.
For example, if you’re a marketing leader, you can provide insight into emerging marketing trends and provide a quote for the journalist to use in another story. If you have a client who is an established attorney, you can provide the journalist with a reliable source of legal advice for a different story.
Building relationships with journalists is a critical part of any successful media strategy in today’s ever-changing digital landscape. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth the effort. By establishing yourself as a trusted source and thought leader in your field, you can increase your visibility, build your brand and stay ahead of the competition.