Asking a journalist to grab a drink or coffee may seem like an awkward Tinder date at first, but refining the practice of the journalist meetup is key in growing your media relations career.
After all, when a reporter receives 100+ pitches a day, how do they sort out which to give a second glance? It certainly helps when they spot a name they recognize – like the awesome PR rep who they bonded with over Harry Potter and cocktails. And while it may not always be that easy, there are certainly a few tips to help you hit it off at your next meeting.
- Know their work
Review their past and current work, bookmarking a few key stories and topics that you can reference during the conversation. They want to know you understand their beat and will bring them relevant and useful pitches. When appropriate, directly mention your favorite recent piece they’ve worked on and use it as an opportunity to reference how your clients and upcoming pitches make sense for them.
- Find common ground
Similar to knowing your Tinder date likes beaches, soccer and full-bodied red wines, find common points of interest, both personal and professional, to have in your back pocket to keep the conversation flowing. The real secret to being a successful PR pro? Never allowing an awkward silence.
- Meet them where they’re at
Do a little digging to figure out their interests and what type of meeting they might prefer. Like anyone else, they are more likely to agree if you suggest a specific place or activity they already want to do. Are they a beer snob? Recommend a local brewery. Vegan? Offer lunch at that new vegan place by their office. Don’t be afraid to get creative – any event can make for a good meetup, consider a speaker session, book reading or anything you think they might love!
- Balance the conversation
Show that you are trying to get to know them and what would be most useful for their work, and not that you’re just here in exchange for a story. Come prepared to discuss what your clients are doing and their latest news, but ensure the conversation is not siloed to what you need from them. Remember, the more you know about what they’re looking for, the better you can tailor your pitch so they will want to cover it.
TL;DR: Do Your Research
After killing it over coffee, keep the momentum going. Pitch them with a relevant story in the next few weeks to ensure they remember you – and solidify the value of the relationship by specifically referencing information they said they like to receive when writing stories. And of course, if the meeting and pitch do result in an immediate article, don’t forget to follow up with a thank you.
So, until somebody makes the PR-Journalist matchmaking app we all need (trademarking the name “imPRessions” for when that happens), be sure to follow these tips to help your next meeting be second-date worthy.
Looking for more pro tips? Hear it directly from the reporters themselves in our latest Reporter Tweedback.