Building Relationships with Journalists and Media Outlets 

Two women having a discussion, one woman is in wheelchair.

By Jona Ohm, APR 

We’ve said before and we will say again, Public Relations is all about relationships. Specifically, the mutually beneficial relationships between your organization and its audiences. Journalists are key allies in this formula because they are the gatekeepers to important, vast and diverse audiences.  

Strong relationships with the media and its various entities are a fundamental aspect of successful Public Relations. These connections can be the key to getting your message the media coverage it deserves. Here are four essential tips to help you foster those crucial relationships and increase your chances of earning valuable media exposure.

Be Human

Authenticity is the name of the game when it comes to building rapport with journalists. To truly connect with them, take the time to understand their expectations and aspirations. By doing so, you can tailor your approach to meet their needs. This mutual understanding lays the foundation for successful collaborations and could even lead journalists to seek you out for future stories. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a genuinely human touch in a world often dominated by tech and formalities?

Be Useful

Being useful helps build a reciprocal relationship. If you have valuable information like surveys, reports, or other data that could enhance a story, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it generously. Journalists are always on the lookout for compelling content that adds depth and credibility to their reporting. Your willingness and ability to provide this kind of useful material can set you apart as a reliable source they will turn to again in the future.

Be Subjective(without being creepy)

You don’t need to know where their kids go to school, but you do need to know a journalist’s identity and their area of expertise. Familiarity with their work doesn’t hurt either. 

On the flip side, sending a pitch on spring cleaning to a sportswriter is a surefire way to waste everyone’s time. Researching and tailoring your pitches to match each outlet you’re approaching is a smart investment. Personalization serves two other vital purposes:

  • Building Trust: Personalization demonstrates respect for the journalist’s time and interests, showing that you’ve put thought and effort into understanding their specific needs and offering them a good story. This gesture of appreciation can go a long way in cultivating a relationship. 
  • Increasing Pitch Success: A well-crafted, personalized pitch greatly improves your chances of getting noticed. Journalists are more likely to pick up a story that aligns with their interests and makes their job easier. It’s a win-win situation.


Be Timely and Plan Ahead

Use the calendar to your advantage. Make a point of learning about each outlet’s editorial calendar. Do they always start planning the Christmas issue in July? Be sure your content is ready to go so it can make their job easier. Some other things to consider are: 

  • Relevance – Don’t let your message get lost in the shuffle. Sending a Christmas-themed article in March is like handing out hot cocoa on a sweltering summer day — confusing and annoying.  Stay relevant and align your outreach with the season and other current events. 
  • Timeliness: Planning your outreach to coincide with pertinent events or seasons is essential. But are you planning farther ahead? Let them know. Knowing what to expect may inspire them to consider an angle they hadn’t before, making your story that much more valuable.  
  • All the Goods: Provide all the critical details. If you can take it a step further by adding a photo or graphic, a caption or a relevant quote, definitely do so.  

Public Relations is all about nurturing relationships and relationships with journalists are ones you should pay attention to. By being authentic, useful, and personal, and by timing your pitches well, you can pave the way for fruitful collaborations that benefit both you and the media outlets.

Not sure where to start? The Avant Solutions team can help set you on the path to media success. Set up an impact session to put the wheels in motion. 

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