Building Relationships with Journalists: Best Practices for PR

Date: July 18, 2023

Building relationships with journalists and publications is a key aspect of the public relations (PR) industry. These relationships are crucial for any PR agency or professional, as it allows them to secure media placements for their clients, which in turn boosts their client’s brand reputation. Not only that, but the relationships built with journalists allow a PR professional to gain insights and knowledge of the upcoming work the journalist may have. This ultimately creates a long-term relationship built on mutual trust.

Creating long-term relationships with journalists will take some time, as they are busy individuals with hard deadlines and contact preferences. However, don’t let that discourage you from reaching out to them about any company updates you might have or any newsworthy-related updates.

Establishing Your Credibility as a Reliable Source

When building relationships with journalists, it’s crucial to remember that you are their source of information. For example, if you’re a personal injury law firm and you see on social media that a journalist is seeking advice on what to do after a car accident, promptly provide the information and a brief description of your law firm’s experiences, achievements, and accolades. This will allow you to give the journalist reliable information, establish your credibility for future opportunities, and allow journalists to meet their required deadlines for publication.

As a reliable source, journalists may contact you for further insights and interviews. To make the most of this opportunity, there are five things you can do to prepare yourself for the interview and ensure you are using your time with the journalist effectively.

  1. Ask for the list of questions they will be asking.
  2. Record yourself answering the questions and take note of your ‘filler’ words.
  3. Pace your answers.
  4. Allow yourself time between each question, as journalists take the time to write down what you have said.
  5. Prepare to answer any additional questions, as your answers may spark the journalist to dive deeper and ask further questions.

Respecting Journalists’ Deadlines and Preferences 

Journalists receive many emails, so showing respect by sending concise and relevant pitches can go a long way. In addition, they often prioritize pitches based on the subject line and quickly skim the contents of the email to determine if it aligns with their current work. Therefore, it’s crucial for your pitches to be newsworthy and straightforward in order to capture their interest. It is also important to consider the timing of when you send your pitch to journalists. For example, avoid sending pitches on Fridays or around holidays, as most publications set the journalists’ deadlines for holiday opportunities at least six months in advance.

Journalists often have a preferred time for receiving pitches too. This information is typically listed on the PR media database, Muck Rack. The platform allows journalists to specify their preferred time of day to receive a pitch, the pitch length, and their desired pitching outreach methods. This valuable database is an essential tool for PR professionals looking to uphold their clients’ visibility with specific journalists.

Building relationships with journalists becomes easier as you start to respect the time and communication preferences a journalist has. 

Nurturing Long-term Relationships and Mutual Trust

At the end of the day, journalists are people too, and just like friendships, you need to nurture and respect them. That means understanding when things are busy because of a holiday, respecting their deadlines, and considering that they may also be working on other articles. 

It’s important to note that due to COVID-19, numerous journalists have shifted to freelance work, which means they are not tied to one publication. Typically, freelance writers collaborate with several publications, some of which have similar audiences while others have diverse ones. Bear this in mind when reaching out to them.

In addition to working with several publications, they must meet the deadlines set by each one. So following up on a pitch a journalist may have been interested in, or touching base about an article to see when it will be published, may be causing more harm than you realize, as journalists prefer to work with individuals who trust and appreciate the effort they put into each article. They also value those who thank them for their time and those who avoid sending multiple follow-ups in one week. 

Just like any other friendship you’ve formed, feel free to ask a journalist about their current projects or how they’re doing. You can even let them know that you enjoyed their recent article. Doing this enables journalists to see that you care about them and their work. You can also share with them the latest news on your client or send a more casual pitch to let them know about your clients’ latest updates. However, it’s important to keep in mind that journalists have their own lives outside of writing for publications and shouldn’t be taken advantage of just because you have a relationship with them.

Contact us to learn more about how our digital PR team can start building relationships between journalists and your law firm!