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Three simple suggestions for better media relations

Developing and maintaining a connection with members of the media is a lot like any relationship. Establishing a good rapport helps build a solid partnership. Keep in mind that everyone is different, so it’s important to adapt as needed while you wait for feedback on a news release or story pitch.

Not long ago, I got a phone call from a well-recognized and longtime TV sports anchor. This sports director was simply calling to tell me he was sorry for the delay in responding to my story idea from a few weeks ago.

He went on to say that he had every intention of covering the story, but was already booked covering a major sporting event, which I knew to be true. (The Green Bay Packers were playing that day.) He then asked if we could set up a story in the near future.

I was at a loss for words. Who calls PR people and apologizes for not responding to an email pitch?

Based on what I’ve heard from others, this is how said-sports anchor operates. Next time I see his cell phone number in my caller ID, I will definitely pick up the call.

Here are three simple suggestions that can help you build relationships within the media:

  • Be patient – Media people are busy. The job is often high stress and they work crazy hours. When I was a television news reporter, I recall “running and gunning” 90-percent of the time. It’s incredible to think news media even have time to pick up a phone much less answer emails on the spot.
  • Follow-up at the right time – Three to four days is not an unusual amount of time for a reporter’s response. Sometimes, it’s even longer depending upon the story. Circle back with another email or make a brief phone call. Follow-up with something specific about their recent report or news item and weave it into the re-selling of an idea.
  • Make the right connection – Not all pitches are a good fit for every reporter. Make sure to know who’s covering what beat in order to pitch an idea to the best person. The world of news media is also a revolving door so it’s crucial to regularly update media lists.

“What would happen if Ron Burgundy had an iPhone? Endless selfies! More here This is a post I wrote for my client Gravy.” flickr photo by Geoff Livingston shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license