Building a Relationship with the Media
Do you remember back to science class when you were in high school? The teacher might have talked about the different relationships organisms have in nature. For example, one of these dynamics is called parasitism, where one organism benefits from the relationship and the other is harmed. This is obviously not the best situation in the animal kingdom or anywhere else for that matter. The ideal situation is mutualism, where both parties are benefiting from the relationship.
These terms apply to more than just the animal kingdom. Mutualism is also a good word to describe the ideal relationship public relations professionals should have with media contacts. Unfortunately at times they can seem more parasitic.
Maintaining a relationship with the media is one of the main functions of public relations. A strong relationship between you and your media contacts can open doors for your clients and be a valuable tool in connecting with audiences. There are a few things to keep in mind in order to build a mutualistic partnership.
Before you try to grab the attention of a reporter, you need to do your research first. Be aware of who you are reaching out to and what they cover. Searching for topics related to your pitch and reaching out to the people covering them may be a good place to start. Pay attention to what topics related to your industry are being covered in the media as well so you have a better understanding of what is being talked about right now.
Next, make sure to look at the information the outlet has posted on their website as well. They might include resources or contact information for submitting content. Bothering a reporter by contacting them when their outlet has posted explicit instructions on how to submit pitches is an easy way to get on their bad side and an avoidable mistake.
You should also be aware of the news cycle so you can reach out to reporters when they are more open to accepting content. Many publications have editorial calendars to let communicators like us know when important dates are and when they are covering certain topics.
Doing this research increases the chances of someone covering your story and decreases your chances of spamming a reporter with content that isn’t relevant to what they cover. If you are prepared and professional, people will be more likely to work with you and maybe even reach out in the future with opportunities for you. Just like the animal kingdom, a mutualistic relationship between public relations professionals and media contacts is essential to how we play our part as communicators.