How to build relationships with reporters – 13 tips
Every person or company that struggles getting coverage asks himself/herself; what should I do to make reporters pay attention to me?
There are many articles about how to pitch journalists, such as read their articles, be respectful, etc. But here we are sharing the most important ingredient: to give first.
Most news outlets make their profit by selling ads. For that reason, “viewership” is a crucial part of their business, as more readers translate into more revenue.
Reporters live by the same rules. If their articles are read and shared often, that directly improves their status. As such, anything you do that helps them reach those goals will make them appreciate you. Here, we are sharing some of the ways you can be useful for reporters.
1- Help reporters with their stories. Helping reporters is not equal to cold pitching them, rather it’s about giving them a story that would appeal to their readers. Evan Schuman has a great piece on what reporters care about. In simple terms; it must surprise their audience.
2- Don’t share obvious information, as it does not help anyone. The reporter knows it and her audience knows it, so there is no need to cover that again. On the contrary, it might even make them ignore the rest of your pitch.
3- Study the reporter’s work. You can’t expect a reporter to respond when you have not done your homework. Besides, most of these tips rely on you having a good knowledge of the person you are going to pitch to. Tracking a reporter’s tweets, taking notes and following their work significantly improves your chances. There are tools such as Innowire’s AI platform which do that for you.
4- If you reach out to a reporter who has covered a similar topic, you should not pitch them an identical story. Instead, give them a unique angle they had not thought of in their first piece. Most reporters won’t write follow-ups, but they do like to talk about new angles that would fly in the face of their audience.
5- If there is anything incorrect in the article, inform them as soon as possible. Reporters welcome such corrections as they do not want to spread wrong information since that would damage their own reputation. Do not call them out on social media for that, though. Share it with them privately.
6- Bake the story. Put yourself in the reporter’s and their readers’ shoes. Are you giving them a story that would drive readers to their publication? Work out the angle for the story and a headline for the upcoming piece. If you want to read that article, the reporter is willing to write it.
7- See what stories have performed well in the past and see if you can find a similar angle. Nothing succeeds like success. Tools like Ahrefs and Buzzsumo can help you find those articles. If it is a formula that reporters can repeat to get more readers, they will be inclined to use it.
8- Use Quora and Reddit to find interesting topics for reporters. By finding which questions are the most active ones, you can guess what articles people will read most to get their answers. Find what questions people have in your niche, and use them as a starting point for your proposed article idea – one that will help you as well as the reporter.
9- Give them proof. Credibility is very important, particularly as media coverage fuels a lot of investment decisions too. Share stats, survey results and reports with the journalist to make their research job easier. They will also know you have done your homework and are worth paying attention to.
10- Share unique content with them. Exclusive news, developments in huge companies, anything they cannot get by themselves. Reporters love news tips – but do not mix that with cold pitches. These are separate topics and mixing them infuriates reporters.
11- Follow reporters on social media and share their work. As mentioned earlier, outlets need exposure. Sharing the articles is not just good for showing your appreciation, it also helps reporters with their career, particularly if you have a large network.
12- Reporters are humans. As such, it matters to build personal relationships. Take time to compliment reporters for their work even if it is not relevant to your business. These kinds of emails are helpful and stand out from the tons of automated messages they receive in their inbox every day.
13- Be simple, clear and direct in your messaging. Reporters have an eye for detecting automated messages with minor edits and will notice someone is sending them a cold pitch or press release not because it is in the best interest of the reporter, but because it is in the best interest of that company. But simple, honest and clear messages catch people’s attention. They will even put time and respond to your queries. After all, reporters need relationships too. But they need relationships with humans, not robots.
In this post, we have shared a lot of tips and tricks to build relationships and get “free press.” In reality, there is no such thing as a free press, as you have to spend valuable time building those relationships. One smart shortcut is to use a PR company that has already taken care of that part, has the tools and the knowledge of who to reach out to, and how.
Need help getting coverage? Our AI system and our established network can help