How to create win-win relationships with journalists

Journalists often feel overwhelmed, with short deadlines and hundreds of press releases they can’t use. Make their lives easier and your business will reap the rewards, says Corinne Card

Journalists can come across as abrupt, or even rude, to PR people and companies seeking publicity for their campaigns. Often, a business will take a huge amount of time and effort to put together a pitch, only to receive a ‘no thanks’, or even no response at all, from the journalist.

Here’s what many of these companies don’t realise:

  1. Journalists are receiving huge numbers of pitches. Sometimes these can amount to hundreds, even thousands of pitches every day, almost none of which are usable for their publications
  2. In an era where newspapers are often down to skeleton staff, but still have the same amount of space to fill, most journalists are under huge pressure to hit deadlines in a short space of time

The flip side to this situation is that, where a company can actually make a journalist’s life easier, the business will reap rewards, with great coverage and ongoing, win-win relationships. But how can companies achieve this?

Here are five ways to improve your relationships with journalists:

  1. Think of a strong news angle and make that angle clear from the start. If the main point of your story is hidden half way down the email, it doesn’t matter how good that angle is, the journalist will never see it. They’ll be put off immediately off by the weak headline
  2. Write your press release in the third person. This will make it easier for a journalist to use your story as it will have been written in the way it needs to be published
  3. Remove anything obviously promotional from your pitches. Your press release and other media needs to come across as designed for the benefit of the publication’s readers, or journalists will instantly press ‘delete’
  4. Include quotes. A story without direct quotes lacks substance, so make sure you’ve included at least one quote from a person who can speak authoritatively about the story you’re telling
  5. Include high quality imagery with your pitch. Pictures can make or break a story and, for print, journalists can scale those photos up or down. This means they can easily use exactly the right amount of space

If you’d like to learn more about how to deal with journalists, sign up for one of our upcoming Coverage Class events.

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