Building relationships with reporters

Building relationships with reporters

They say that PR is a “relationships” business. After all, “relations” is right there in the acronym. It’s certainly easier to get a member of the media to listen to your pitch if you’ve already established a relationship with him or her.

But even the closest relationships can’t make up for a bad pitch — or a story with no meat on its bone. Conversely, it’s easier to build a close relationship with an editor or reporter if you can make their job easier — by pitching them a good story or high-quality content.

Here are a few simple tips for building effective relationships with the media.

First, make sure that you have something interesting to say — that it’s newsworthy and relevant to the particular reporter you’re pitching. And have the facts ready to substantiate it. If you’re a real-estate broker who believes that prices are poised to rise in your area, line up some sales data to back up your case.

If you’re trying to convince a reporter to write about a trend in your industry, be prepared to set him or her up with spokespeople who can validate your pitch. Reporters generally would much rather speak to the folks who use your products or independent experts who can confirm what you’re telling them. If those first two sources check out, you might well be the third.

If you don’t have anything newsworthy to say — for instance, maybe you don’t have that local home-sales data at your fingertips — then play the long game by offering yourself as an expert source for future stories. If you can help a reporter out with an incisive quote when he or she calls you on deadline, then your next pitch, featuring your story, will likely get a closer read.

Finally, be nice. Building relationships with the press is just like building relationships with anyone else in the professional world. Help them, and they’ll be more likely to help you.

Robby Schrum