Is the Press Your Friend or Foe?

Sometimes journalists, editors, television personalities, and radio DJs may seem like intimidating individuals, especially when you’re approaching them to help you promote your business. When you’re looking for their help you want to do all that you can to build a lasting relationship with one or more media contacts. This is the basis of media relations.

Even if you hire a press release writer to create your promotional content, it’s still up to you forge a good working relationship with the media. The way you interact with the press will determine whether they become your friend or your enemy. If you exhibit poor media relations or a complete lack thereof you run the risk of being simply ignored when you approach a press member with a story idea or press release.

Building Relationships with the Press

There are specific things you can do to help with cultivating press contacts. First, you’ll want to establish a short list of appropriate media personalities. It’s important to make sure that the media members you contact deal with your specific business or have some experience in writing about your field.

This may mean that you have to stick to trade magazines or specific sections of newspapers. You may also be able to find television or radio personalities that host shows or broadcasts related to your industry. By sticking to these appropriate contacts, you’ll not only save yourself time by limiting who you work with but you’ll also increase your chances of successfully landing some free promotion.

Once you establish a short list of potential contacts, you want to start reaching out and establishing communication. This may seem intimidating, but media relations are just like any other kind of relationship; people tend to talk people they find interesting and enjoy being around.

Approach this new relationship as you would a friendship. Find out about the person you’re looking to talk to. When it comes to journalists or editors, a great trick is to follow their work. By reading their past articles, you’ll see what topics they take an interest in – this will help you target specific press releases or pitches to relevant media personalities. This information can also help you build a more personable bond with the journalist, since they’ll see that you’ve taken an interest in their work.

Once the journalist, or media personality, becomes open to building a business relationship with you, you can use other tricks to form a strong bond. Perhaps you can take them out for drinks or lunch, somewhere light and friendly where you can talk specifics or just get to know each other. Protip: as you talk to this person, try to remember specifics about what they discuss with you.

Remembering that this particular journalist has a child who plays football, for example, is a great way to display that you’re not simply looking for free promotion, but that you actually have an affinity for the person behind the newspaper, too. As you continue to forge your media relations, it’s important to keep in contact with them, whether you have a news story for them or not. This will keep you in their mind and show that you’re not a passing fad.

There is a fine line between keeping in contact and pestering, however. Remember to maintain proper boundaries as you would with any other associate or friend – don’t copy them into the latest hilarious work email, for example!

This will help you get your foot in the door and open up a world of press opportunities. When you do get in touch with a press contact for promotional work, be mindful of what they do. Journalists and print editors have deadlines to adhere to, so it’s important to pitch them a story nice and early to give them time to work on it.

More importantly, don’t contact these people when their deadline is near, as they’ll be too busy to handle your calls and they’ll lose patience with you. If a media contact does pick up on your story or press release and they subsequently contact you, make sure you accommodate them. Never turn down an interview, provide the contact with as much information as you can: pictures, client contact information, and whatever else is needed. It’s also essential to follow up with your contact after the story runs.

This will maintain your relationship and show the contact that you weren’t just using them for a one-time promotion. Once the relationship is well established, your contact will most likely contact you for information for stories, quotes and industry information.

Using the Press for Promotions

If you achieve your goal and get the press on your side, even if it’s just one journalist, you have the potential for endless free promotion for your company. Once a relationship is established, your media contacts will help you get press releases published, feature your business in articles, and come to you for industry information, like quotes or expert knowledge. In order to get to this point, however, you have to learn how to build a working relationship with various media contacts.

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