Keep promises, and pick up the phone when possible

The final four points in part 3 of this series follow the "who" and "what" and concentrate on "how" to save time - and face - by building meaningful and lasting relationships with the media.

The final four points in part 3 of this series follow the “who” and “what” and concentrate on “how” to save time - and face - by building meaningful and lasting relationships with the media.

The funny part is, these guidelines should be followed in all areas of your professional life anyway. Why? Because they help you open the lines of communication and build trust, whether you're dealing with reporters, bloggers, clients, or stakeholders.

7. Ask how you can help.
Offer your assistance whenever possible to make the reporter's job easier, even if it doesn't always directly benefit you or your client. This can give you the advantage of being able to influence the position of your news and to eventually have the reporter coming to you with new story opportunities, instead of you always having to chase them. 

8. Always do what you say you're going to do.
If you can't keep a promise, don't make it in the first place. The fastest way to kill a media contact relationship is to promise something you can't deliver. Always pledge to do your best, and always follow through with what you say you're going to do. It makes everyone's lives easier.

9. Follow up, follow up, follow up.
It may seem simple, but you can easily undo all your hard work in cultivating a media contact relationship by not following up with them. Most reporters will not give you coverage after only one phone interview or email exchange. Be ready to give them additional elements needed to flesh out stories, including photos, customer references, analysis, and additional sources, and have it all prepared in advance.

10. Pick up the phone whenever possible.
Pitching by phone yields better results, period. Why? Because it's way easier for a reporter to delete your email than it is to hang up on you. It's that simple. Talking on the phone makes it much easier to make your case and rebut objections, and ultimately, this will save you a ton of time and energy. 

So, if you're a public relations professional, fostering good relationships with the media is your lifeblood since it's unlikely you'll get anywhere without them. When contacting reporters or editors, especially for the first time, don't ever take anything for granted and never guess if you're not sure. It's always better to take the time to do the groundwork so you're prepared and know what you're up against. Following these rules consistently will not only save you time and effort, in the end it will save you money.

Rebecca Derrington is the founder of SourceBottle.

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