People buy from people. Information flows better between trusting relationships. And we know we get better PR results when working with a trusted editor/journalist that we have a good relationship with.
The agency’s never ending question is how to build more and more relationships so everyone in your email address book is a ‘relationship’ and not just someone on a distribution list. For the past decade, our experience has been there are four things that can build a PR pro/media relationship:
Think ‘journalist’ – the best way to build any relationship is to understand the world from the other side’s point of view. Never is this truer than with the media. Don’t just call a press contact if you want something. Call then if you see or hear of something that might be of interest to them. Call them if you want to continue a conversation that they have reported on. Call them to congratulate on an excellent piece. None of these may be related to your own press needs, but opening up sincere, honest dialogue will get you better coverage in the future.
Think ‘their title’ – the single most common complaint that journalists make of PR pro’s is that they do not understand the title/show that the journalist works on. Before calling the media, it is imperative that the PR pro has read the title (or seen/listened to the show), understands it and identifies that their client has something relevant to the target group of that media. Without that you are not just wasting time, you’re damaging a long-term relationship.
Think ‘two-way’ – that’s a two-way conversation. Too often an agency pro will call up to pitch a client. That’s just like when you answer your home phone at 7pm and someone tries to sell you new windows. You want to get them off the phone ASAP because you are not looking for new windows – but you can’t get a word in. Agency pro’s need to stop the telesales routine, and instead of talking – try listening. The pitch might not be right for that journalist at that point, but something related my work, or that pitch might tie into something that is coming up in a forward feature.
Think ‘time line’ – journalists live by them. And theirs are written in stone. So your client wants to receive results on a certain deadline, but what drives that? If a monthly magazine goes to bed on the 20th of the month, is there really any point pitching a story in that week 13th – 20th? No. The space will already have been taken up. Similarly think of the time line for daily newspapers. Work to the media’s time line. If your client has something else in mind, then manage that client better.
Just think of the media from their point of view. That’s all it takes to build excellent agency/media relationships. And that’s what leads to excellent media results.