Part and parcel of doing business is networking, and using your contacts to further your aims. The same is true of how we treat journalists – we need to get to know them, nurture that relationship and hopefully they’ll give us some help.
The problem is, people don’t like journalists. Well, maybe that is a bit of a sweeping statement but it is true to say that, in terms of popularity, they tend to lurk somewhere between estate agents and lawyers.
Why do we dislike journalists? One reason must be that they are always portrayed in TV drama as a rowdy bunch who loiter outside people’s doors, sticking microphones and notebooks in people’s faces just when they are at their most vulnerable.
Well, that may be the public perception but, like them or loathe them, you need journalists if you want to get your good news stories out there. And please try to discard the TV image of them. Your average reporter, particular in local, regional or trade media, simply doesn’t behave like that. If they did, they’d pretty soon cut off their ties with the community in which they work.
So whatever your private thoughts, you would do well to get a journalist on side if you want your good news story to be published.
Here’s how to get to know journalists
Firstly, find out the name of the right journalist to go to. If you represent a school with a story to tell, you want the education reporter; if you run a business then seek out the business editor; a doctor or medic? Try the health reporter.
Once you have their name, and hopefully their email and telephone number too, then make contact. Ask for a face-to-face meeting; offering to buy them a coffee (or even a pint!) can work wonders.
As in any area of life, if you take the time to build up a personal relationship with someone then it works both to your advantage and theirs. They are more likely to treat your story with respect; less likely to publish and be damned if they have met you. In turn, your chances of getting your good news story out there are increased.
If you keep up a regular dialogue, a journalist will use you as one of their contacts; you may get to be the expert they turn to when they need a quote for a story.
And remember, above all journalists are very busy filling their news columns or air time or online feed and are always on the hunt for good stories. If yours falls in their laps they will use it. So don’t keep your good story hidden. And if, on occasion, your story is a bit weak, because they know, like and trust you they may use it anyway.
So, get out there, get mingling with the journos, and you might find that not only are they just regular people underneath it all but they can do you some pretty good turns too and give a boost to your PR campaign.