7 tips for building relationships with journalists

In today’s fast-paced media landscape, PR is all about building relationships with journalists. But with remote working and less in-person interaction, it can be hard to build rapport. Therefore, our account manager Ellie Byrne shares seven smart tips to boost media connections and create a lasting impression as a PR professional that journalists can count on.

The landscape of media relations has seen a significant transformation over the past few years. From the impact of COVID-19 to the rise of emerging technologies, media fragmentation, and the heightened pressure on journalists to meet performance targets, the dynamics of connecting with journalists have evolved significantly. Therefore, building strong relationships with journalists has become even more crucial for securing media coverage.

Recognising shared goals of delivering accurate, compelling stories to the public, PR teams and journalists must operate as a unified force. As PR experts, we bring valuable insights, resources, and tailored content that align with journalists' audience needs, facilitating seamless coverage. Journalists, in turn, rely on PR professionals to provide timely, relevant information that meets their tight deadlines and enhances their storytelling. This harmonious relationship, built on mutual respect and open communication, not only maximises media exposure for organisations and clients but also elevates the quality of journalistic content, ultimately benefiting readers and consumers of news.

So, what are the fundamental tips for effectively establishing connections with journalists in 2023?

1. Embrace the human factor

In a world characterised by digital interactions, it's essential to remember that journalists are people too. Instead of treating your interactions as mere transactions, focus on building genuine relationships. Take the time to understand the journalists' interests, milestones, and preferences. Small gestures like congratulating them on achievements or sharing common interests can go a long way in fostering a personal connection.

2. Research is key

Before reaching out to journalists, invest time in researching the journalists and the publications they represent. Utilise online tools and social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to gain insights into their work, preferences, and contact preferences. This information will enable you to tailor your pitches and communications effectively, showcasing your respect for their work.

3. Provide relevant content

To become a valuable resource for journalists, align your client's or organisation's stories with the interests of the publication's audience. This involves going beyond traditional pitches and crafting comprehensive packages that include case studies, quotes, images, and videos. Exclusive content can make your story more appealing, increasing the likelihood of coverage. 

4. Respect newsroom pressures

Journalists operate in a fast-paced environment, driven by daily quotas and performance metrics. Tailor your content to help them achieve their goals, whether that's driving traffic or improving engagement. Respond promptly to deadlines and ensure clear communication if you need an extension. By showing respect for their time and pressure, you enhance your reputation as a reliable and helpful source.

5. Build honesty and trust

Building trust with journalists rests on honesty and transparency. Avoid forcing stories that don't align with their interests or misleading them for short-term gains. Focus on offering genuine assistance and relevant information that serves their needs. Establishing trust through consistent collaboration and sincere cooperation will solidify your reputation as a credible and dependable partner.

6. Understand and assist their needs

To stand out in the eyes of journalists, prioritise being helpful. Provide assistance that goes beyond pitching stories. Connect journalists with relevant sources in your network, offer insights on various topics, and contribute to their work in meaningful ways. By becoming a dependable resource, you position yourself as a go-to PR professional in their network.

7. Invest time and effort

Patience is key when building relationships with journalists. Establishing a strong rapport takes time and consistent effort. Regularly engage with journalists through meaningful interactions, show appreciation for their work, and keep them updated on relevant stories. Over time, this consistent effort will pay off in the form of lasting relationships that benefit both parties.

By adhering to these core principles, you'll not only secure media coverage but also forge enduring relationships that enhance your credibility and impact in the industry.

If you need media relations support or you’re interested in offering your knowledge and expertise to our network of journalists, get in touch with our team.

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Written by Ellie Byrne