By Rebecca Lake
Rule one of the PR bible? Besides ensuring the Prosecco fridge is stocked, I mean…
Know your media. Inside out.
Whether you’re a PR newbie, starting out in a new sector, or a seasoned pro the key to success in this space is flawless media rapport. A daunting prospect at any level but something we should, and will, all master – eventually!
Of course, free food came top of the list, but we managed to agree that a lot of it is down to trial and error – we all remember our first journalist ‘hang-up’?! The end result – if you want to skip some of the tribulations of dealing with your ever influential, ever demanding journos, here’s my top tips for getting to know them the easy way:
Follow them. On Twitter, that is. While it may reveal some interesting insights, we’re certainly not advocating any form of after-hours stalking here. But if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of what matters to your media when they’re away from their desks Twitter is a great place to start – you never know what shared interests they might shed light on.
Read their work. Sounds simple, but a lot of people forget. Journalists are writers, and writers write for people to read. It’s all too easy for PRs to get caught up in the idea that journalists equal coverage, rather than a compelling story. They write on topics that interest them and their readers – one of which is (or should be) you. And if you do come across an article that interests you, mention it to them – as a rule, writes love to hear feedback (it means all that work hasn’t gone to waste!)
Be genuine. As in any other situation it’s easy to spot when someone’s being insincere. If you’re looking to connect with a journalist on something that’s not work related – perhaps an article they’ve written or a tweet they’ve posted – make sure you actually care. If you feign interest in their football team or latest article on the UK’s economic climate you can bet they’ll see through it pretty quickly – and you can be sure you’ve caused the reverse effect.
Tailor your mails. We all know how to spot them. Those mails that drop in your inbox addressed ‘Hi there’ or ‘Good afternoon’. Those blanket, ‘thought you’d be interested in’ mails that you are in fact not interested in at all. Well, it’s the same for your media. Minor details make a massive difference: if you know they attended that event last week, or celebrated a birthday recently, mention it – if they see you pay attention, they’re more likely to read past line one.
Don’t spam them. Know their beat and stick to it – don’t send them a release on the latest B2B news if they only cover consumer stories. If you’re always sharing relevant content they’ll begin to recognise you as a consistent source for interesting news – your mails will sooner be opened, than unread.
Know their friends. The journalist world – just like PR circles – is pretty close knit. If they cover the same beat, it’s a pretty safe bet that they know each other. Recognise who they find time for and invite them out or to events together – you’re more likely to get a ‘yes’ from a friendly pair. After all, we understand it’s often safety in numbers!
Know their preferences. It’s the age old question: to mail, or not to mail? An easy answer – ask them. They’ll appreciate what you have to offer much more if you know when and how they prefer to be contacted. Whether that’s a call or a mail first, you’ll engage much better if you’re approaching them on their terms.