Media attention, or a blocked email: Do’s and don’ts when talking to journalists 

A good relationship with your target media is always the center of a successful PR strategy. For many, this is hard, because they have never been in touch with journalists, they don’t know how a newsroom works, or they don’t know how to find new, relevant contacts to build relationships with. Many companies don’t make enough out of their PR potential – simply because they don’t know how to take the leap and start talking to journalists! In this blog, we share our insider tips for how to build strong relationships with journalists – and some very real ways you can destroy those relationships.

Things that help build media attention 

Only pitch newsworthy stories. You may think your app’s new collaboration feature is the coolest thing in the world, but chances are it’s not a very newsworthy development in the grand scheme of things. Many companies trying to do PR blast out press releases about everything they do to a large list of journalists, but this rarely creates success. By finding those great, newsworthy stories and giving them to the right journalist, you establish yourself as a reliable source of good topics and make it more likely that your contacts will open your next email too.
Keep your contacts warm. This doesn’t mean spam their inboxes. No, it REALLY doesn’t mean spam their inboxes. But do follow journalists who cover what you do on social media, interact with what they publish, and really follow what they are interested in. Add to discussions in threads and give your opinions on topics your spokespersons have expertise in. That way, you can offer them useful insights or pitch stories that relate to what they cover, and make your thought leaders stand out as interesting and knowledgeable interview subjects.
Stick to the truth! It’s normal to use big words in marketing, but when talking to journalists, stick to accuracy and provide honest information. By all means, talk about your great plans when asked, but when it comes to hard facts, most journalists have a natural ability to detect enhanced stats or omissions of facts. By being a reliable source of information and opinion, you build your company’s reputation as an important contributor, making it much more likely for you to have journalists contacting you for a comment on stories they are working on.

How to tear down the castle you’ve built for yourself
While many “don’ts” are pretty much the opposite of what you’ve just read, there are some additional points that really can cause friction and make journalists avoid you. Firstly – don’t try to actively affect what the final article’s going to look like. While you may get a quote check in some countries, most English-speaking outlets don’t allow them. And if you do get a quote check, that is not a carte blanche to rewrite the text. Only correct your own quotes. If there are factual errors, email your points to the journalist, and don’t try to edit the text itself. It really annoys them.
Don’t spread gated content as full text. Subscriptions are part of how journalism is funded, and they are critical to ensuring an editorially independent media landscape. So when you take a full text from the website and share it with your followers, not only are you breaking copyright, you’re also directly undermining how the person who wrote the story gets paid. Safe to say, it’s an express ticket to the sin-bin, and the journalist probably won’t talk to you again. Even more critical – don’t post a full article as your own blog or on your website. You didn’t write it, they did.
Take rejection like a champ. Every journalist won’t be interested in everything you pitch. Maybe the angle isn’t exactly their beat, they don’t have time, or their editorial calendar makes them focus on something else right now. That’s how it is, and trying to crowbar your way into the media by arguing over semantics or telling the journalists they are wrong won’t solve anything. Rather, it’ll create problems for you in the future by damaging your relationship with your key media contacts.

Sound complicated? We can help! 

PR requires finesse and knowledge to do properly. We’re happy to share some tips for building and maintaining good relationships, but if you’re still confused or just don’t have time to do the legwork, we’re happy to help you start building your media presence and getting good relationships going with both international and local media.
Drop us a line, and we’re happy to show you more of our secret sauce recipe for doing impactful PR!


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