Tips for Building and Maintaining Relationships with Reporters

June 10, 2020 | Zach Raczka

“It’s all about who you know.”

Creating and maintaining relationships with journalists, reporters and editors is crucial for effective public relations. You may have the perfect pitch and a newsworthy story. But for public relations professionals, established relationships can be even more important. Members of the media are busy, quickly jumping from one assignment to another. For PR pros, the hard truth is reporters will not see every pitch or every news release shared with them.

Long-term, mutually beneficial relationships will help reporters trust you, your PR firm and your client, and potentially even come to you first with future opportunities. Here are some tips when working with the media to establish and maintain relationships to improve your public relations campaigns:

Respect deadlines.

Reporters and editors usually have strict deadlines for their articles or broadcast segments. When you begin working with them, ask about their deadline up front and do everything in your power to meet that deadline. If you can make working with you and your client a smooth and stress-free experience, reporters will look forward to working with you again for your next pitch or story.

Follow up.

If a reporter interviews your subject matter expert or comes out to cover your event, always send a follow up. A brief, descriptive follow up email can help you and your client stick in reporters’ minds after the media moment is over.

Ask them.

While some writers cover specific beats or write certain types of articles, others wear many hats and are open to a wide range of pitches. Consider asking them if they would be interested in a specific type of story before sending them all the details in a pitch. Even if they’re not interested, you will know what types of stories to pitch the reporter in the future.

 

“Public relations experts and reporters work closely together… and we need each other.”

 

Don’t always have a pitch.

Reporters’ inboxes get bombarded every day with email after email from PR specialists about an upcoming event or potential news story. Sending an email to engage a reporter on a recent story or asking a question about an article will help you stand out when the time comes to pitch that big interview next time you have something newsworthy. Periodic touchpoints about their work can go a long way. (It also shows the reporter you are in tune with relevant topics and are considerate about coverage.)

Get involved with professional organizations.

Public relations organizations are not only a great way to meet and learn from other communication professionals. Local chapters of the Public Relations Society of America and other groups often hold media panels with reporters, editors and producers to discuss their work and media outlets. Professional events give you the opportunity to meet face-to-face with reporters and learn about their interests and preferences for media pitches. Media members can now put a face to your name and are more likely to open your next email.

Interact on social media.

Almost every reporter is active on social media, especially Twitter, to share their stories and interact with readers, giving public relations professionals more opportunities than ever for engagement, even on a minimal level. Follow relevant reporters, like their content and share their articles occasionally to build virtual relationships.

Public relations experts and reporters work closely together… and we need each other. Follow these tips to build relationships with the media and increase the success of your pitches, taking your campaign from good to great.