How to Build (and Maintain) Good Relationships with the Media
- Remember That Their Time Is Valuable
A journalist’s time is just as valuable as yours and you should act accordingly. Show that you respect their time by avoiding irrelevant phone calls that will only waste time. Journalists find nothing more annoying than someone calling for a chat, especially when they’re on deadline. A phone call is usually the best way to reach someone, but if the person sounds hurried, ask if they’re up for it, and if not, end the call and shoot over an email.
- Respect Their Deadlines
There’s nothing more useless than a reply to an email, weeks or months later accepting the invitation for an interview when the story has already passed. In the world of journalism, deadlines are a matter of days not weeks. As a result, you should treat a first contact as urgent, and you should be clear about deadlines as early in the discussion as possible.
- Effectively Follow-up
The average journalist gets hundreds of emails a day so don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response right away. Chances are, you fell to the bottom of their list and they’re too busy to respond right away. So, what’s the next step? They key is following up, while being mindful and respectful of the fact they must balance an array of competing priorities and other stories. Always follow-up the next day in hopes of a response. If you do not hear back (and if time allows), wait a week for your next attempt. Another option is to try sending your follow-up at a different time and day of the week than your initial email. If the problem is that the email is simply not reaching the person at the right time, try sending it in the afternoon, rather than morning. Lastly, trying a follow-up phone call can at times be more convenient for the journalist you are trying to reach. Instead of being under piles of emails, they can offer immediate feedback to your inquiry and no one is wasting the others time.
- Use Your Website
Journalists use the internet to do their research. It is important to have a professional website for anyone who visits, so information about what your company does can be visible and accessed easily. A user-friendly and informational website should be organized for visitors to browse through your site and find the information they’re looking for. Eliminate dead links, showcase your credibility by listing out your awards and accomplishments and utilize professional photography to give your site a more polished look.
- Be a Media-Friendly Company
Whether it is a receptionist, front-of-house staff or anyone else who answers the phone, make sure every member of your team can effectively communicate with journalists, so answers can be given swiftly and no one has to play “phone tag.”