If you learn how to connect with journalists, then you could use those relationships to promote your business, products, and services. Journalists are always hunting for a good story. If you can make it easy for them, then they might decide your story is worth covering.
Before you can connect with a journalist, though, you need to know how to present yourself so that he or she takes you seriously and wants to report positive things about your organization.
#1. Start Following Journalists on Twitter
Journalists work in a field where they have to dig information out of people. After years of interviewing experience, they often learn to protect themselves by keeping others at a distance. Since they know how to ask leading questions, they know when someone else is trying to manipulate them.
You can reduce the journalist’s protectiveness by approaching her slowly. Start by following her on Twitter. After you have been following her tweets for a few weeks, feel free to respond or retweet. That will draw her attention to your name.
At this point, she doesn’t know who you are, but at least she’s seen your name. That can make a big difference when you reach out to this person to write a story about you, your company, or an event.
#2. Comment on the Journalist’s Writing
Many newspapers and magazines have gone digital or gone out of business. Without a doubt, it’s a rough time to work in the printed news industry.
You can use the transition to digital media to develop relationships with the journalists in your region. Start by commenting on a local journalist’s articles. Ask in-depth questions and point out other resources that can inform readers. This can get a writer’s attention quickly. Just be sure you sign in to the site and use your real name.
Whatever you do, don’t become a troll. The journalist might start to recognize you, but not in a good way. After creating positive feelings on her articles, you can introduce yourself to form a business relationship that benefits you both.
#3. Learn How to Write Press Releases
Have you ever noticed that journalists seem to have information before anyone else does? It’s not because they have psychic powers. It’s because people send them press releases.
If you’re opening a new store, releasing a new product, or celebrating an event that you want people to know about, then you need to learn how to write press releases.
Crafting the perfect press release takes some practice, but there are a few rules that you can follow to make your first one pretty good:
- Give it a snappy title
- Get to the point
- Include hard information such as dates, times, and numbers
- Explain who you are
- Include your contact information
- Keep it short
Journalists don’t have a lot of time to wade through lengthy press releases. Even a small news organization could get hundreds a day. If your press release doesn’t stand out, then no one will pay attention to it.
#4. Know Which Journalists to Target
You can save yourself a lot of time by following local journalists. After a couple weeks, you should know which ones will want to write a story about you.
You can start by targeting specific sections of the paper. If you run a shopping center, the Arts and Culture writer probably doesn’t care about your event (they’re more interested in galleries, music, and plays). Instead, contact a business writer that has covered similar events in the past.
Read your local papers and magazines to discover what journalists in your area write about. That way, you can target your message to writers who might respond.
#5. Send an Email
Today’s successful journalists are some of the most connected people in the world. They use every form of communication available to stay on top of the latest news.
So, what’s the best way to connect with a journalist? Try sending an email. Most papers will include the writer’s email address at the bottom of her stories. That makes it easy for you to reach out and make a connection.
Not just any email will do the trick, though. Use the same techniques that make a press release good:
- Create a good subject line
- Get to the point
- Let the journalist know the best way to reach you
You don’t need a secret handshake or password. Most journalists appreciate getting informative emails from their readers. It makes their jobs a little easier. Besides, journalists are always looking for something new to write about. Your email could offer the perfect idea for a story.
Related: 3 Ways To Distribute A Press Release
#6. Try Snail Mail
Email is the fastest way to reach a journalist, but it probably won’t help you stand out. If you think news organizations get a lot of press releases, then you should see the number of emails they receive. A popular journalist can easily get hundreds of emails a day. Where do you think your email will go?
If you have a great subject line, then it might get read. If it doesn’t grab the journalist’s attention, then it will go right in the trash. Or you could stand out by using snail mail. These days, people don’t expect to receive personally written letters. If you take that extra step, you could find yourself connected to a useful journalist.
Like all forms of communication, you should follow some tips to do this correctly. Make sure you:
- Use legible handwriting
- Include the information you would put in a press release
- Include your email address or phone number so she can contact you easily
- Insert some small gifts like custom printed pencils with your logo on them
People often feel compelled to reciprocate, even when they receive small gifts. Tossing a couple of pencils in the package could be exactly what you need to convince the journalist to contact you.
What strategies have you used to connect with journalists that could help your PR campaigns? Were you successful, or do you need to reconsider your approach for next time?
Images: ”How to Get Attention newspaper headline promising advice and tips on getting good exposure and awareness through public relations, marketing or communication techniques / Shutterstock.com“
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