Establishing and maintaining relationships with journalists is a long-term commitment and requires serious attention. It is entirely possible that you prepare and publish a good story with a journalist once, but have your communication end there.
There may be a number of reasons for this: you were not very tactful, accidentally violated the journalist’s personal boundaries, overwhelmed them with questions, or otherwise created unnecessary discomfort. In such cases, a journalist may reduce communication with you to a minimum and no longer respond to your emails or contact you with requests.
In order for cooperation with the media to be long-lasting and productive, it is necessary to know the main rules for working with journalists. Here are some of the tips to follow.
1. You Have To Stay Online and Accessible To a Journalist 24/7
Changpeng Zhao can step down from his position as the CEO of Binance at any time, regardless of your schedule. A humorous example though this may be, the idea here is that you should always be ready to quickly jump in on the latest agenda and work out a high-quality material to offer to a journalist. Providing them with high-speed comments and helping them publish their news pieces ahead of others is a good way to build trust and loyalty.
2. Do Not Underestimate the Power of Newsjacking
Newsjacking is the bread and butter for many PR specialists and one of the primary ways for us to engage with journalists. If you are a PR manager, make sure to monitor the news daily, seek out noteworthy events relevant to your speaker, and pitch comments on these topics to journalists before someone else steals the opportunity.
This point also ties in with the previous one — when a journalist knows you to be a reliable contact, they are likely to reach out from their side when they want a comment for their news piece. Answering such requests promptly will help bolster your reputation with them further.
3. Meet the Deadlines — the Importance Cannot Be Overstated
It is very important for a PR manager to keep track of deadlines. When you make arrangements with a journalist about publishing a material, it is crucial to keep to them as much as possible. The deadlines agreed with the journalist also affect the deadlines you set for the speaker so that they can prepare the necessary content.
It is necessary to always keep track of the material and its status, to remain mindful of all participants in the process, right up to the point you deliver the material to the journalist. If you understand that the text is going to be delayed, warn the journalist as soon as possible and apologise for it.
4. Double-Check Everything Before Submitting a Text
Once your text is ready and you submit it to the journalist, you pass a certain threshold after which it becomes much harder to make any corrections if they are needed. This is especially true if the material has already gone live in the media.
It may so happen that the speaker changes their mind about something in the text after approving it. Or you might discover a wrong figure or a typo that previously got skipped over.
Unless absolutely necessary, it is not a good idea to bother the media’s editorial department and ask them to make corrections post-publication. The only times when it is acceptable is if the mistake was made on the media’s part.
Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to double- and triple-check every material before you send it to the journalist.
5. Having an Organised Journalist Database Is the Ultimate Cheat Sheet For a PR-manager
Last but certainly not least, when working with journalists, make sure you take the time to create and regularly update a database with relevant information. Make it as clear and simple to understand as possible — both for yourself and your colleagues.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the mass media market is very mobile — journalists do not always work in the same media for 3–5 years, they often move around between editorials. If you intend to build a relationship with a specific journalist for a long time, then you’ll have to keep track of their movements (by watching the posts in their social networks, the way they sign their media articles, etc.) and correct the information you have on them in your databases accordingly.