Public relations is all about building relationships. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s still an extremely important one. Besides being creative and a good writer, as a PR professional, another crucial thing you MUST do is build wonderful relationships with the media.
But, how do you start?
Here are five tips to follow to build strong relationships with local, regional and national media contacts.
1. Don’t spam
The media receive hundreds upon hundreds of emails a day. Make sure you’re pitching the right contact and one that would be interested in the information you have. The last thing you want to do is continuously spam your media contacts – they will get very annoyed with you and eventually start ignoring your emails all together. Not good! So, think before you hit send.
Know what your media contacts like to write about. How can you possibly develop a strong relationship with your media contact if you don’t know what they like to cover? Conduct research on their most recent stories. If you find a recent piece of theirs interesting, be sure to tell them so. Also look them up on social media. Whether it is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter – find another avenue to get to know them, what their interests are and how you can become a better resource to them.
3. Be reachable
When a media person calls on you for help, either to book an interview with a client or to see if you know anyone that could help them with an upcoming story – be sure to be responsive!
Answer them as quickly as possible and get them as much information as they need in a timely manner. The WORST thing you can do is develop a reputation of not being reachable. After all, if you’re not reachable and responsive, the media contact will stop calling/emailing or asking you for help. They’ll get in contact with someone that can get them what they need. So make sure you return phone calls and emails and if you don’t know an answer to their question, offer to find it for them as quickly as possible.
4. Personal connection
Remember, the media are people too! Don’t be afraid of them. Yes, their time is important and they often are on crucial and critical deadlines, but don’t forget, they could be your neighbor too.
Treat them with respect, but don’t be a robot. As much as it’s important to do your research to get to know their likes and dislikes, it’s important to develop a rapport with your media contacts outside of the business at hand.
Wish them Happy Holidays, shoot them an email to just to say hi. Don’t be a stranger – it’s all about building a strong relationship, which means put the pitch down and try to relate to them on a personal level. More often than not, they will appreciate the chance to get to know your personality as much as you will appreciate the opportunity to get to know theirs.
5. Say thank you!
It’s true, a thank you goes a long way! When you’ve worked with a media person and the story/segment/blog entry, etc. comes out, be sure to say thank you for all of their hard work. Tell them it was a pleasure working with them and that you hope you get to work together again in the near future.
In special instances, invite them for a cup of coffee as a thank you and a way for you to again, establish a personal connection, which we discussed above. You’ll be surprised how much they appreciate you saying so. It’s worth the extra few minutes and it will certainly pay off in the future – just be sincere.
These are just five of the many guidelines you can follow to begin developing strong media relationships. If you do, soon you’ll find yourself with wonderful media contacts that go out of their way to help you with your goals because you’ve helped them with theirs. It’s a win win situation, so don’t wait, get started and build those media relations today.
Lisa Gordon is the Vice President of HJMT Public Relations.