Why Can’t We Be Friends?
There has been an adversarial relationship between PR professionals and journalists, well, forever. As a PR person, your goal is to get positive media exposure for your company; theirs is to get a great story. The PR folks have been made to feel like beggars, forced to plead for a couple of inches of print or a mention of an upcoming event on a blog.
Conversely, journalists often feel pressured to spin facts in favor of company without supporting data. Journalists want a good story. What they get from the PR community are self-serving fluff pitches with no depth and few facts. And they get way too many of them to ever print.
There is common ground, however, and on many points the PR and Journalism communities agree. As a PR professional, you’ll be well served to learn where your agendas overlap and how to assist the frazzled journalist in getting your story out to the world.
They Need Your News!
Remember, journalist need the information you offer. Journalists have space to fill, blogs to write, Tweets and Facebook posts to produce. Journalists want news items of merit. You have them.
Your role is to provide the journalist with solid, factual and interesting information in a format that makes it easy to get to print.
Do Your Homework…and Theirs!
It is critical that you know about the journalist that you wish to work with. Read everything they write or broadcast and before you ever make a pitch, ensure that your proposed piece is consistent with the journalist’s style and beat. To do otherwise is an insult. Don’t waste valuable time or erode your chances of future submissions being taken seriously.
Make it easy for the writer. Include photos, video links and source information. Study after study indicates that the likelihood of a press release being published increases greatly when photos included. With tight deadlines and tighter budgets, the more substance you can provide, the more likely your story will be picked up.
Line up a couple of experts and, with permission, provide their contact information within the Press Release. You just saved the journalist a chunk of time, and that will be appreciated—and remembered.
Ever the Professional
Always present yourself in a professional manner and play by the rules. Accuracy is critical. Have your facts right. Don’t risk damaging a growing relationship by hedging or omitting. It will cost you credibility and in the long run, time and money.
Know your chosen journalist’s work and offer ideas that may be of interest. When you make a suggestion or give a tip it tells the journalist that you have researched his work, read what he writes and that you are interested.
Don’t overlook a journalist’s online presence. Take the time to “like” the journalist’s Facebook page and offer a well written, professional comment occasionally. Likewise, check out her Twitter feed and follow her blog.
Share ideas and items of interest with the journalist. Again, the message is that you consider them part of your network and that the relationship means more to you than just getting your next pitch printed. The goal is to become professional associates. Beware of becoming too chummy or crossing lines into personal territory, a common error when using social media.
Finally, be genuine. Remember you are forging an alliance from which both parties profit. You, your company and the journalist all win, and your story is told. After all, getting a well-crafted message out is the goal of both the journalist and the Public Relations expert.
Journalism and Public Relations; they’re closer than you thought.