“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make”, so sang The Beatles at the finale of their epic Abbey Road album, and it’s a philosophy you can apply to PR.
“Uh, how’s that, what nonsense is this?!”
Well, this game is really all about give and take, and preferably a lot more of the former in your initial forays into media relations.
You see, journalists are incredibly time-pressed people and they have a laser-like focus on one thing and one thing only…the story.
If you can help them tell whatever story they are working on they will start to ever so slowly fall in love with you – okay maybe not biblical love, but they’ll look forward to hearing from you.
You see the mistake so many people make when they start doing their own PR is they expect the media to fall in love with them instantly, but it doesn’t work like that, it takes time – you’ve got to woo your target journalist. Whisper softly in their ear as an awesome, trusted source (is this getting creepy)?
What I mean is give them what they need rather than what you want to give them – be a help, not a hindrance.
Here are 5 awesome ways to start this love affair.
1. Take a look around at what’s going on in the news in your sector, or preferably what’s going to be happening in a few days time, and think how you could add a voice to a story that’s clearly going to be big news. Contact your target journalist and offer them a case study or a quote, something that will help them tell the story THEY are already working on. Trust me, as a former journalist, I used to love people who made my life easier.
2. Send your favourite target journalist(s) tips on stories that they may well not have seen but that could be of use to them. Keep it informal. “Hi Sophie, in case you haven’t seen the Government is launching a new report into X on Friday, thought it might be of interest”. And no more, don’t then sell them something, keep it about news.
3. Compliments and follow-ups. Follow your target journalist’s work and send them a friendly tweet or an email to say how much you loved what they’d just written – everyone likes a little praise. Also suggest a follow up angle to that story with a case study. The media runs on the currency of editorial ideas, give them a good one and they’ll remember you.
4. When you do outreach your own original story make sure it is just that, a story first and foremost, not some advertorial crap that is best sent to the advertising department. A journalist wants news and features, full stop – NOTHING else.
5. Lunches? A very old PR tactic that most journalists never have the time for these days, but…like any relationship it could be time to take it to second base. If you’ve been genuinely helpful and given them some great ideas and helped out on stories then it could be fun to meet up and put a face to a name. This is all about building relationships and they may well fancy a free lunch. But…WARNING! Do not think I am saying buying someone lunch buys you media coverage, it does NOT, you still need a story. I’m just saying that if the love affair is blossoming why not be nice.
Ahhh, I’m feeling all loved up now – time to contact some cuddly journalists…