One of the most important lessons I learned early on in my career was to treat the media like they were a client. With client relations, this means demonstrating a sense of urgency, showing sincere interest in their work, positioning yourself as a resource that helps them do their job and most importantly, building a relationship.
This may seem incredibly obvious, but all too often PR folks send a pitch or call a journalist without considering the person on the receiving end of that email or phone call. We ignore the fact that journalists are just like us – strapped for time, dealing with an ever-growing list of demands and have a personal life.
When you consider how similar we are and begin to tap into journalists' interests and passions, media relations become easier and significantly more enjoyable.
Several years ago I started working with a syndicated columnist whose beat was consumer technology. Securing a hit with this person was a huge win, and yielded 20-30 placements for a client. While I always found this particular journalist easy to work with, discovering he was a New York transplant living in Texas, like myself, and a big New York Giants fan, made working with him fun. His baseball affiliation (Yankees) is less desirable, but I digress.
Our exchanges shifted from emails to texts, and were never strictly about my clients. We updated each other on our personal lives, talked sports and even covered off what I was pitching that week.
Over the years our relationship benefitted my clients in the form of hundreds, if not thousands, of placements. We reached a point where if I was struggling with a client, I could be honest with him and he’d strongly consider covering them based solely on the strength of our relationship, even if a particular product didn’t deserve the valuable column inches he could provide.
More importantly I gained a friend that I still keep in touch with even though I don’t pitch often these days. He's a great resource for recommending talented PR people, shares amazing field-level shots from his second job as a sports photographer, and we still text about the ups and downs of our team. Thanks GE and go G-Men!
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