Smart operators make a point of trying to become friendly with journalists.
Their calculation is that if they can build relationships with journalists, not only will they get more coverage, but they’ll be in a better position to control that coverage.
They’re usually right.
Journalists are human beings. Like most human beings, we tend to favour those we know and trust – sometimes deliberately, but often subconsciously.
Smart journalists make a point of trying to become friendly with sources and potential sources, because they know that could help them get more and better stories in the future.
So there’s no need to think journalists would be doing you a big favour by getting to know you; if they’re professional, they should want it as much as you.
The best way to build a relationship is to be bold and direct.
Phone the journalist, introduce yourself, explain why a relationship would be mutually beneficial, and offer to buy the journalist a “quick coffee”. (Quick is good, because we’re always pressed for time.)
Don’t worry if you get rebuffed – you can always try again later.
Next time you’ve got a media release or a lead you think might interest the journalist, give him a call and run it by him. If he’s interested, follow up with an email.
Another tip is to follow the journalist on social media and interact with his posts.
The more phone, email and social interactions you have, the more the relationship will develop.
If you were previously rebuffed, at some point you can suggest another coffee. Now that a relationship has been developed, the journo will be more likely to accept.
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