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Five creative ways for PR professionals to engage journalists

Anybody working in PR will tell you that their job would not be possible without journalists, and that there’s nothing more important than forming positive relationships with the media to get that all-important coverage for clients.

Of course, like any relationship, the one between PR professionals and journalists isn’t always smooth sailing; there are times when both parties disagree on things but, ultimately, it can’t be denied that the two do need each other to work effectively.

So, how can PRs successfully engage journalists and build a positive relationship with the media?

Do some journalistic matchmaking

When it comes to creating a media list and deciding which journalists to pitch your story to, make sure that you’re only targeting journalists and publications who are going to be genuinely interested. There’s no point in wasting a journalist’s, or your own, time by sending them a press release that they have no interest in.

Do your homework and use the ‘News’ tab on Google to find journalists who are already talking about what you’re trying to pitch. This will help you to target journalists based on their previous work and the subject matter that you know they specialise in.

By only targeting the right people and publications, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you recognise what kind of content they write and publish. By having an understanding of what they’re looking for, and being able to consistently give this to them, you’ll be able to meet their goals as well as your own.

Learn from rejection

PR professionals need to develop a thick skin when it comes to their pitches being ignored, as it’s very ambitious to expect coverage success from every pitch you send.

However, if you’re lucky enough to receive a rejection email from a journalist then don’t be afraid to ask why, as this will help you to understand what they’re looking for and what to avoid sending them in the future.

By doing this, it gives you the opportunity in the future to provide them with what they are interested in, rather than what you think they’re interested in.

Make it newsworthy and grab their attention

Journalists are likely to only be interested in stories that are seriously newsworthy and that they think their readership is going to engage with. Therefore, you need to create your story and think about its validity and relevance to this journalist.

Put yourself in the position of the journalist you’re pitching to and make your email noticeable and interesting. The best place to start when doing this is your subject line – it’s vital to use one that is going to make them sit up and take notice of what you’ve got to say, rather than just ignoring your email or, even worse, sending it straight to the bin.

Ultimately, you need to grab their attention and give them something that’s different to anything they’ve seen before, whilst still being relevant.

Follow up with journalists

Journalists can often find PR professionals too pushy when it comes to getting noticed, so following up with them is something you have to be careful with. Despite this, it’s something that’s really important to do, so you just need to know how to approach it.

If you haven’t received a response to your pitch, don’t be too surprised. Journalists get a lot of emails from PR dropping into their inboxes every day, so it’s likely that they just haven’t had chance to get back to you or that your email has got lost in their inbox.

When it comes to sending follow-up emails, you don’t want to come across as pushy, but you do want to show that you’re attentive and haven’t just sent out a press release without caring who picks it up and who doesn’t. Follow up once and then, if you don’t get a response again, that’s the point when you should decide to leave it – you don’t want to become annoying to the journalist.

Be personable

Probably the most important thing to remember when creating relationships with journalists is to be friendly towards them – you don’t want to come across as a robotic press release machine!

Nurture the relationships behind your screen and get to know the journalists, ask them how they are, and even bring a bit of humour to your interactions. This will make them more likely to remember you when you contact them in future, or they might even contact you.

Knowing how to create strong relationships with journalists is a key part of having a successful career in PR and is a great way to secure the coverage that you deserve. Try to make the most of the relationships you form- after all, each profession wouldn’t be able to do its job without the other!