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PR 101: How to Build and Foster Relationships with the Media

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Creating and fostering relationships with members of the media – journalists, editors, producers, and the like – is a crucial part of working in the public relations industry. Working with the media and establishing strong connections can lead to your becoming the go-to person in your industry of expertise

We live in a digital age, as does the field of PR, which has led to pitching the media via phone an obsolete way of conducting your PR efforts. Some argue speaking to someone over the phone is an effective way to create a lasting impression and relationship. With today’s plethora of social media platforms and other means of communication, we can create these valuable relationships with the media like never before. Here are a few tips on how you can establish and nurture relationships with the media in today’s digital world:

1. Share and Engage with Their Content

Chances are you’ll find some the media contacts you’re looking to connect with on Twitter. Follow them. Engage with their Tweets if you have some value to add. Replying to their Tweets with “great piece,” or “Well written article. I’d love to speak to you about (shamelessly add your client here),” is not going to cut it. Instead, spend time reading their articles and get to know what they like and don’t like. Favorite, Retweet, and reply to their Tweets (don’t overdo it) if you truly have something to say that’s of value. That doesn’t just go for Twitter – do they have a blog? Follow it. Comment on their stories found on their publication’s website. This will not only help them recognize your name, but it shows you’re interested in what they’re writing.

2. Offer Your Resources

Making a journalist’s job easier is a surefire way to establish and build an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship. One way to do so is offering your connections and resources (clients, employees, your network, yourself, etc.) for upcoming stories. You can do this by connecting with the media contact on LinkedIn accompanied by the resources you can offer them, or simply send an email. The difference between sending an email with the resources and value you can offer them versus the usual story pitch. And please, do not blast out 1,000 emails; do your homework and be sure who you’re reaching out to is the appropriate person you want to start this relationship with.

3. Let Your Personality Shine

Those who work in the media are people too. Don’t’ be robotic in your correspondence with them. Check them out on Twitter, compliment their work (if you truly mean it), and show some of your personality, whether it be on Twitter, email, or over the phone. For example, I have a good sense of humor, and there are a few journalists I’ve established relationships with on Twitter simply because I started responding to their clever and witty Tweets. The most important thing is to be genuine, because it’s pretty easy to spot someone who’s faking it.

4. Remember Your Manners

Introduce yourself. If this is the first time you’re reaching out to this media contact, let them know who you are, what brand you’re representing, and what news you plan to share with them in the future; don’t blindly pitch! A “thank you” to show gratitude for a journalist including your client in a story should be done every single time. If you’ve been pitching a source and the journalist doesn’t take your offer, oh well. That’s unfortunately going to happen. The important thing is to remember they have a job to fulfill, and your resource or other pitch just may not cut it this time.

5. Be Genuine

This should be a given. Media relationships are built on trust, respect, and anticipating their needs. Always be honest. If you can’t deliver something, say so. This may seem a bit cliché, but honesty is the best policy when building and nurturing media relationships. Being genuine is perhaps the most important tip when establishing and building media relationships, because chances are your media contact will see right through your façade.

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