The media are a powerful force, and they can do a lot for you—or a lot against you. Cultivating relationships with reporters is essential if you want to attract positive news coverage for your organization. They are, after all, the messengers of your story.
I was fortunate enough to learn a few tricks about establishing relationships with the media from my co-workers at EMC Creative this past summer. Below are a few tips I picked up:
Learn reporters’ deadlines. News is perishable, and reporters must meet specific deadlines. Your job is to help them do so. Develop a reputation as someone who respects reporters’ schedules, guidelines, and priorities. Provide sufficient information, stories, and pictures when they are needed.
Think like a reporter. Think in terms of what an editor or reporter would consider newsworthy. Reporters are bombarded with stories. What makes yours compelling? What makes your story standout amidst the plethora of others?
Know your message and stick to it. Reporters are busy. Don’t waste their time fumbling around the core of your message. Write down talking points before you speak with reporters, so you’re confident in relaying your message.
Be accessible. Make sure reporters know how to get in touch with you at a moment’s notice. They are on strict deadlines, and if you can’t respond to their questions promptly, they will go elsewhere for sources or ditch your story. Be on call to reporters’ needs and questions.
Be honest. It takes a lot of hard work to build credibility, and nothing builds credibility like honesty. Accuracy, integrity, and openness are key. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Offer to get back to the reporter as soon as you can with an answer.
Every media contact is an opportunity to tell your story. Protect and cherish relationships with these individuals, so you can generate positive coverage for your organization.