5 Tips: How to build a lasting relationship with journalists

Journalists are busy people.

They are battling a deadline from the moment their morning meeting is over. You can easily build a lasting relationship with journalists. The trick is to understand what they need and what they want. Always remember it's a reciprocal relationship. Journalists need you, just as much as you need them. Once a relationship is established- the possibilities are endless. 

Tip #1: Say Yes

If a journalist calls on you to comment for a news report or appear on their show to offer your expert opinion, say YES. Availability is half the battle for journalists. They are fighting a deadline and need to secure a guest or interviewee now. If you're available the opportunity is yours. If you're not- it will be someone else. If you're unsure, ask questions.  Make sure you are clear about the subject matter and that you're a good fit for the interview. 

Tip #2: Milk it

Once you meet with that journalist, even if it's for a short period of time, milk it. Use the opportunity to discuss; other story ideas you have, other topics you can comment on, how you can be of use to them in the future. Let the journalist know that you are versatile. Be sure to ask for a card or at least an email address. Bingo! Direct access to the source. 

Tip #3: Follow-up - don't badger

After the first encounter, send a follow-up email saying it was a pleasure to meet. "Like" their page on Facebook. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter to keep abreast of what they're covering. Avoid sending too many emails. If the journalist is interested they will reply. If they are not, they will not reply. 

Tip #4: Become a source and be brief

When you stumble upon a great story idea- send the journalist an email. The email should be short, sweet and to the point. In the subject line write an attention getting headline. Example: "Local entrepreneur launches first solar powered cell phone." In the body of the email simply write out the story idea in two sentences. Why is it unique? Why should they cover it now? 

Bring the journalist ideas that are from your network and community - not just ideas that serve you or your company. If you know someone with a great story- send it to your journalist friend. This is how you become a trusted source and they will more likely cover your stories in the future. 

Tip #5 Make it easy

Supporting media makes journalists happy. Supporting media is any kind of visual that can accompany the subject of the story. When you pitch and idea to the media, ensure you make pictures and video available. For TV interviews, media websites, newspapers and magazines,  the more pictures and video available, the better.  In your brief email- attach pictures or a link to video and more information about the story. Example: Attach pictures of the solar powered phone and a link to a video that shows how the device works. 

Ensure you have someone available to talk about the topic NOW. Provide a cell phone number and email address. Again- be brief, clear and available. 

Good luck!