From the Archives: 10 Ways to Court A Reporter (Without Stalking Them)
December 2, 2020
When it comes to building a relationship with a reporter, there is a fine line between courting and stalking. Sound a little bit…or a lot…like dating? Good. Close your eyes and think back to when you were chasing your high school sweetheart, and you will get the hang of it in no time flat.
“Hey…you.” Picture yourself at a trade show party (remember those?). Go over and introduce yourself to people you know, and those you want to know. Once you’ve established a connection, don’t say too much, or try to schedule meetings with your company for the next day. Just share your contact information and offer the reporter assistance if they ever should need your expert viewpoints on a topic.
Remember the three-day rule. Like dating, wait a few days before you reconnect. Not only do you not want to come off as desperate, but you also need to consider the reporter’s workload.
Let them know you are thinking about them. Check in with the reporter regularly, asking if they have any upcoming news, feature, or editorial pieces where your company or client might be the right fit.
Don’t play hard to get. Once a reporter wants to use you as a source, respond quickly. If you wait, your competitor might be the main opinion source of their breaking news story that is due in an hour.
Be thoughtful. Provide the reporter with relevant, useful angles and ideas for upcoming stories on the editorial calendar. Position yourself as an expert in your industry by creating interesting, off-the-beaten-path angles. Don’t be afraid to take the current mode of thinking and turn it on its head. The reporter will take notice, and so will their readers.
It’s all about chemistry. Don’t try to force your company into a story where it doesn’t belong. For example, if a reporter has an upcoming story about mobile apps, don’t try to fit your security angle into the story. Yes, it could be a fit, but it’s a stretch. Wait until security is a topic that they will address more thoroughly. Besides, you are likely to get more coverage if you stick to your topic of expertise.
Be reliable. Do what you say you will do. If you promise to follow up with statistics or a report, do so, and do so quickly.
Cut the B.S. Don’t hide the truth from a reporter. By nature, reporters are inquisitive, and it is their job to research all angles of a story. If you hide the truth about something in your company, the relationship is over. Once you break a reporter’s trust, you are unlikely to get it back.
They are not that into you. If days go by and the reporter hasn’t returned your calls or emails, catch a clue. Give them some space. They know you’re there. They’ll be back when the time is right.
Play the jealousy card. If you receive news coverage at a competing publication, don’t be afraid to send a link. It doesn’t hurt to let the reporter know that other reporters ARE into you.
Courting a reporter can be a lot of work, and that’s why building a relationship—or finding a PR firm that has those relationships is so important. When you find the right fit, you’ll become a key source for future stories.
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