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How to build relationships with journalists and why it matters

By June 25, 2020101 tips
Notepaper, pencils, pens, cell phone, duct tape and scissors on a black desk.

As obvious as it may sound, in the world of communications the most important thing is to communicate. When choosing to follow this professional path, it is important to know that your career will be shaped by the contacts you build. For public relations professionals entering the world of media relations, in addition to producing releases and strategies for the dissemination of the work promoted by their clients, it is essential to create a good relationship with those on the flipside of communication: journalists. But how are relationships with journalists built, and networks of contacts maintained?

In order to build relationships with journalists, the PR professional should start by studying their client and the results they want to achieve in the media. When publishing a story, choose a vehicle and journalist whose work covers the subject in question, since pushing an irrelevant story on a journalist will be a waste of time and will not yield the desired result.

A good relationship with the press should be based on respect and support, with everyone knowing their roles and the ways in which they can help with each other’s work.


Respect the journalist in the same way you respect your client

Your relationship should be mutually supportive on a day-to-day basis, both when responding to requests from journalist colleagues, and when publicizing corporate materials by PR professionals.

The work of the PR and the journalist is one of exchange, and should be beneficial to both sides. In your line of work, you expect the journalist to analyze the story and work on the content for publication, so you should be willing to help them with any queries, and facilitate contact with your client.

Remember to respect journalists’ working hours. Sending content outside newsroom hours and pestering contacts with calls will do more harm than good. When scheduling an interview, even at the journalist’s request, never be late and always be available to answer unplanned questions.

In times of crisis, a strong relationship can help the company transmit its points with greater clarity and on a wider platform. So don’t hide from questioning, and make yourself available even when the situation is critical.


Define strategies to strengthen your contact list

For these tips to be put into practice, you need to get to know the journalists first. Study your client and the vehicles which fit within the project’s guidelines. With this data, you will be able to identify those responsible for coverage, and locate professional contacts.

Worthwhile strategies include meetings with journalists, such as press conferences, press trips and press kits. Keep in mind that these are ways to create a network, not to buy off the journalist. Do not be surprised if the story is not of interest and your release is not published. Focus on selling your content and making them grasp the relevance of your publication.

Developing a thorough mailing list will allow your content to reach professionals who are specialized in the subject at hand, avoiding spam and unwanted mail-outs to your journalist colleagues.

The follow-up is a useful tool for understanding how the story has been received by a journalist. When reaching out, be prepared to settle any doubts and generate greater interest in the published content. With social media in play, consider going beyond the traditional phone call, and getting in touch via instant message.

Courses such as Media Training are a good way to develop your public relations skills and maintain better relationships with journalists. Getting your clients content published in large media outlets is the sign of a job well done, but don’t overlook or underestimate smaller vehicles.

The success of your agenda will depend on how you structure your work and develop each stage. When prepping content, define dissemination strategies, suitable vehicles for publication, and how to build relationships with journalists. Reach out and present your content to generate professional interest in the story, all the while respecting their workflow and requests for meetings.


This publication is part of our quick PR guide. Check out our blog or follow the social networks (@sherlockcomms) to learn and read more new content written by our team.


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