Media Relations

Maintaining Relationships with Reporters: The Magic’s in the Friendship

November 17, 2016by Marcie Waters

Thanks to your charm or your persistence (or a magical mix of both), you’ve finally landed an incredible placement. The reporter wrote a great piece lauding your client. Now how do you make sure they do it again?

It’s all about the relationship. Cultivating close relationships with reporters can make them more receptive to your thoughtfully written pitches and ensure that you (and your client) will be on their radar for editorial opportunities.

Here are three tips for turning an unfamiliar reporter into a friendly insider.

1. Don’t just connect on social media, interact! Are you following the reporters you’re working with? You should be! Hop on the best platforms to keep tabs on reporters: Twitter and LinkedIn.

While you’re stalking their profiles and perusing their latest content, don’t hesitate to compliment, comment on or ask questions about their articles. You can also mention specific points from their pieces, so they know you’ve actually read them.

Reporters, like anybody, love seeing positive interactions with their work. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t respond; what matters is that they see your interactions and get accustomed to seeing them. Obscurity is your biggest enemy. The more ways you can interact with a reporter, the better.

There may come a time when a reporter writes a story that places your client or your client’s industry in a less than favorable light. Don’t retaliate; you’ll likely sour any chance of the reporter giving your client positive coverage in the future.

Pro tips:

  • Make a Twitter list of reporters you have worked with so you can easily skim their tweets. Know that they’ll get a notification stating that you’ve added them to that list. (And if you use Hootsuite, you can also dedicate a stream to these editorial VIPs for quick and easy reference.)
  • Take time to comment directly on their online articles or blog posts. As they say, go the extra mile—it’s never crowded, and this proves true in this realm as well.

2. Share thanks and updates via email. Speaking of being appreciative, the first thing you should do after a reporter has given your client positive coverage is to send an email thanking them.

To keep the relationship going, you can also send them brief and periodic updates about your client as a teaser of what is to come or the results of something they didn’t cover, but that you know they were interested in.

Example 1: “…Wanted to let you know about the latest promotion we’re running. No hard sell here, but keep an eye out for more details on the upcoming release of our full fall collection…”

Example 2: “…Know you didn’t cover our augmented reality promotion, but wanted you to know that it was well received by our audience! There were more than 3,000 downloads and 4,000 certificates given out as a result of the promotion…”

Your reporter will appreciate being kept in the loop on relevant news, and it shows that you value them enough to keep them in mind for even the smallest of happenings.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your correspondence in one email chain and reference previous emails when appropriate. Reporters get bombarded by communications every day and will appreciate your effort to help keep things organized.
  • After a reporter has covered your pitch, send them a handwritten note, wishing them a fantastic [insert season].
  • Wondering how often to reach out to a reporter? Communicating with them once a month—whether about your client or not—is a good rule of thumb.

3. Meet face-to-face. So, you’ve connected with a reporter, they’re responding to your emails and you’ve built a healthy but remote relationship. It may be time to step it up and meet them in person.

Industry-related trade shows, events and conferences are great places to meet with reporters. And since you’re keeping tabs on the whereabouts of your go-to reporters, you’ll know exactly which events they’ll be attending. Send your reporter friend an email to ask where they’ll be and if they can spare some time to meet face to face.

If you’re traveling near your reporter’s office, offer to stop by for a desk-side chat to catch up. While your instinct may be to avoid the office, meeting reporters where they work can save them time and effort (and score you brownie points).

Pro tips:

  • Keep your meetings short—about 15–20 minutes. Again, reporters are busy people and will appreciate your efforts to be respectful of their time.
  • Avoid pitching them stories or pressing for coverage during these meet-ups. Rather, keep it conversational and get to know more about them, what they love to cover and why.

Above all, every reporter is different and you should take a personalized approach when maintaining relationships. Every interaction must be genuine and respectful of the reporter’s time.

While it takes a huge amount of effort to maintain close relationships with every reporter you work with, the payoff is worth it. Just make sure you’ve built up a solid rapport and established a level of trust before asking for anything in return. With persistence and genuine attention, you’ll be able to develop relationships with reporters to make some real PR magic. Not only that, if you’re really fortunate, you’ll make some good friends too.

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