5 Tips on Developing Media Relationships Without Ever Meeting Them in Person

Casey Watson • August 24, 2020

The show must go on – global pandemic or not – and it’s essential that your company or organization’s good news is center stage.  It can be difficult to get your audience to see the most recent developments and opportunities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. All too often, press releases get stuck at stage right waiting to make an appearance.

One way to improve your chances of getting your news in the spotlight is by building rapport with media professionals in your target market area. So how can your organization accomplish building a relationship while maintaining social distancing?

Below are five tips on how you can develop a relationship with media professionals without meeting them in person:

1.) Engage with ALL media professionals on social media

The easiest way to get your name and company on the radar of someone who works in media is by following them on social media platforms. By liking, commenting, or sharing posts that you find relevant or interesting, you’ll start to re-appear in the notifications section which will help you/ your organization become a familiar face and name. Interacting with the person’s posts shows them that you are interested in and value their work, even when they are not covering “your” story. And remember, don’t just do this with reporters at the station! Assignment editors, producers, newsroom managers, and production assistants all have a say in the morning and afternoon meetings and can be the connection you need to get your story covered.

2.) Get to know the person, not just the story. 

Don’t make it a habit to only reach out to a media professional when you need something. Make an effort to build the relationship further. For example, if you’re friends with them on social media and you see it’s their birthday or maybe they announce something exciting in their career, comment and wish them a Happy Birthday or say congratulations. This small gesture will play a big part in building a long-term relationship with that individual.

3.) When possible, offer an exclusive! 

What does a media outlet like more than pizza during election coverage? An exclusive story. One of the easiest ways to get in the good graces of someone in the media is to offer an exclusive interview on a story that has yet to break… and this doesn’t have to be something huge. For example, if your organization is donating 25 backpacks to students in need, this usually would not be a first pick story for a reporter. When offered as an exclusive before the press release goes out and paired with an interview, your organization can get coverage on something that you otherwise wouldn’t. Meanwhile, you are building trust and a relationship with the reporter and the media outlet.

4.) Be organized and willing to assist in getting the reporter all resources they need. In the media world, things move very quickly. So if you make it easy on a reporter or media outlet by having the resources prepared and available when it comes time to cover a story, they are going to be very thankful for your preparation and understanding of what is needed to make a story great. Things you can do to prepare is to think about what video and still shots could be taken that would correlate with the story, where would be the best place to stand in your building for good light and limited background noise during an interview, is there any information that could require citing in the story, and are there any online resources that the reporter can push viewers to for more information.

5.) Follow-up after the story is covered. This is big. As a former reporter, I also wanted to ensure that I did a story justice and the people involved were happy with what was published. After your story has been published, reach out and say thank you! If there was something you didn’t like or maybe you think the story could have a second part, let the reporter know! Feedback is always appreciated. I still have thank you cards from 30+ individuals I worked with on stories sitting at my desk. So whether it be an email, a retweet, a call, or a handwritten letter, following up with the reporter will serve as the final step in ensuring that you have a professional relationship built.

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