Respect Thy Reporter..and Client

Hi all…I wanted to share a response to a blog posting I made on the Harvard Business Review’s Blog Network titled, “Your PR Efforts May Be Hurting You”   The reporter focuses on the age old discussion about spamming reporters, which we all know by now not to do because it isn’t a good way to develop relationships with reporters.

 My response is below:

As a skilled communications professional with a specialty in media relations I can’t agree enough that spamming reporters simply doesn’t work.  For the last decade I’ve focused and honed my media relations skills so I can be of better service to both my client and the reporters I work with.   However, I must say every reporter I’ve ever worked with has always requested a press release.  A well written press release to the correct reporters that invite transparency and dialogue with reporters has often been well received.  However, it’s essential to write a corresponding e-mail that resonates with each reporter. 

As I grew up in this industry, it’s been important to respect the job that journalists have and work within their parameters, not only providing them what they need, but also listening to what they have to say.   A great thing has happened in pr…in the last 10-years we have seen our clients become more responsive and open to listening to the needs of reporters.  Many clients have become much more flexible in regards to the type of story they are looking for.  For example, instead of business profile with the CEO, we can do a innovation story with the VP of R&D.  This has been significantly important during pr campaigns and has helped to escalate the significance media relations as an expertise. 

Here’s something else to think about…many companies no longer want junior team members to call the media, they want folks at my level with 15+ years of experience because we not only understand the client needs, but reporter needs as well.  It’s simply our job to know, and if we don’t know then we talk…we have dialogue with reporters.  Most people in pr don’t make any calls to the media, in yet, many of these folks are the same people writing the pr programs.  Does that make sense? 

Here are some simple rules I developed a long time ago…they have since become a personal philosophy if you will:

1) Respect reports jobs, not just their time.  You may need to educate your client that what they want is not what the reporter can do.  It is as simple as that!

2) Think about what the reporter needs and provide that to them in a format that works for them.

3) Don’t just pitch, talk to reporters…have a short dialogue. You want a relationship with them…talk, learn about what they want and what they need.

I can go on and on as I’ve taught media relations in many agency settings…but my final thought is this: do the right thing by your client and the reporter you are pitching and you will almost always find success.

Oh yes, one piece of advice to the writer who suggested calling reporters 2 minutes a day to encourage relationships…make sure you have news.  



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