How your business can use journalists to build effective PR

Learn how to understand the media and build a relationship with them

Journalists, like most professionals, are long on work and short on time. One of the hardest parts of a reporter’s job is finding something worth writing about and people worth interviewing.

So when they are presented with an opportunity to meet and/or interview someone with a story to tell or insights into the market they cover they will jump at the chance.

Making use of your time with journalists is a key to building a good relationship with them. Most journalists don’t want to be your buddy or have a good lunch for the sake of a good lunch. If you meet up with a journalist make sure you have an agenda and have something to offer him or her.

Nothing seals a relationship better with a journalist than a story. A journalist who walks away from a meeting without a story feels cheated. Now they have to return to the office and work even harder to find a story. And chances are that the journalist will be reluctant to take your call again because they may view you as a waste of time.

Understanding journalists also means understanding their egos. Journalists want to write exclusives and have the story, if not first, at the same time as their nearest competitor.

A best case scenario would have you distribute a release so the weeklies will publish it Monday morning and you can give it to the dailies Sunday night or Friday afternoon. Of course you can’t please everyone but making sure your release is successful requires you to please as many as possible.

With the media, there are primarily two types of stories: the roundup and the spotlight. The roundup is a story that quotes several industry players and covers, say, a certain industry trend, event or financing strategy.

By being quoted in a roundup story, you can demonstrate your expertise beyond the direct marketing message and often these type of stories provide a flexible platform to address industry themes and topics you feel are pertinent to the success of your business.

A spotlight story is one that focuses on a particular firm – its projects, its people, or its overall business philosophy. It is a story designed to tell its readers solely about a firm and what it is doing.

Invariably PR efforts are seeking spotlight pieces but roundups are more prevalent, as news organisations strive to write well-rounded, multi-sourced articles.

However, it should be noted that many times a proactive media strategy could generate roundup stories by recognising industry themes, trends or issues. Often then, because you recognised that theme the journalists will feature your views predominantly in a piece with other industry sources added to comment on the topic you suggested.

While this type of story is a roundup in nature, it has a feel as being a spotlight, because it uses your views as its prominent source of commentary.

If you meet up with a journalist make sure you have something to offer him or her.


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