Is there anything more frustrating than having an important story that deserves news coverage and then hearing radio silence from the reporters you pitch? Let's talk about one of the easiest ways to make sure that doesn't happen again: building a relationship with reporters.
Hey there! In the exciting world of media and journalism, creating genuine connections with reporters is like adding a sprinkle of magic to your PR efforts. Instead of treating reporters like distant beings when pitching stories, take the time to build relationships with them beforehand. Let's dive into why it's so important and, of course, some easy (& fun) strategies to make it happen!
The Power of Building Relationships: Why does this matter in the first place?
Familiarity Is Key: Picture this– a reporter sees your name pop up in their inbox, and a light bulb of recognition flickers in their mind. They're more likely click on your email and see what you have to say. That's the beauty of building relationships! It's like being part of their inner circle, increasing the chances of your pitch catching their attention. Bonus points if your previous interactions inspired them in some way or even just helped them out. Once your email pops into their inbox, they remember those interactions and become intrigued by what you have to say next.
Lightening Their Load: Reporters are constantly juggling a gazillion tasks. By building relationships, you're not just another addition to their never-ending to-do list. Show them some love by respecting their time and effort. The goal is to make their lives a little easier and to be seen as a partner, not a burden. By doing so, your pitch will stand out and receive the attention it deserves. It also forces you to revise your pitches and send higher-quality ideas because you're not sending them to some faceless, stranger but an actual colleague.
Super Fun Strategies for Building Relationships:
Now that you know why it's important, let's talk about how to actually do this. Journalists can be intimidating but the below strategies will help you confidently reach out to them and build those relationships in no time. Just remember: don't do this and then throw your pitch at the end. Right now, we're focusing on building relationships– not creating more work for our new friends!
Spread the Love: When you stumble upon a reporter's work that you truly enjoy, don't hold back! Reach out and shower them with appreciation. Send a quick note expressing why you loved their story so much. Be specific and genuine in your compliments and point out something you learned, or how a specific framing helped you further understand the topic. They'll be grateful for the kind words, and you'll create a positive connection between you and the reporter. This is especially important considering many reporters deal with an onslaught of negative feedback, criticism and, from sources, corrections. Just one quick email can really brighten their day, especially if it's genuine and requires no extra work for them.
Social Media Superpowers: Social media is another fun way to build relationships and can play double duty as you reach out to them and post more on your own feed. Take advantage of this digital playground to build relationships with reporters. Share their stories on your social media platforms and don't forget to tag them, their newsroom and maybe even their editor! This way, not only do you support their work, but their editors will also witness the impact they're making. It's a win-win!
Be Kind: You don't need to have a major story to reach out to a reporter. A random note is often enough too especially to journalists of color who face unique challenges. Let them know they're seen and appreciated. A message like "Hey, I see you. I know covering that story must have been tough, but you have people out here who appreciate you!" can work wonders. It shows you care, and it nurtures a genuine connection. This can also be personable than reaching out about a story
Bonus tip: Ask them to lunch or coffee: Journalists never have enough time for a real meal but if you're in the industry that they cover, taking your relationship building one step further to ask them to coffee can have a major payoff. It's a lot easier if your invitation centers them. Perhaps, with the notion of asking them more about their career, what kinds of stories they're looking for and always make it clear you're not asking them to coffee to pitch them! You're asking them to coffee to learn more about them!
Relationship-building doesn't have to take a ton of time but it does take a lot of nurturing and requires you focus less on you for a few minutes and more on them. It's networking to the nth level! However, it can also make it easier to pitch because now you know what the journalist is actually looking for and it can make you less nervous that they'll ignore you!
And there you have it! Investing time and effort into building relationships with reporters is the secret sauce for pitching success. Spread the love, be active on social media, and sprinkle kindness everywhere you go. And if you can, grab lunch! Who doesn't love a good sandwich?
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