Often, it’s knowing how to be a valuable media source. Here are 10 ways to make yourself indispensable to reporters, editors, freelancers, broadcasters, bloggers, ezine editors and all new media.
1. Understand your Number One task: to be helpful.
A reporter’s job isn’t to give you publicity. It’s to write an interesting story so that people will continue to subscribe, read, watch or listen. Anything you can do to make that happen will put you in their good graces.
2. Be available around the clock.
If a reporter calls you when it’s inconvenient for you to talk, do everything possible to rearrange your schedule. If you ask the reporter to reschedule the interview a day or two later, you could miss being featured in the story. Give reporters your home, office and mobile phone numbers.
3. Make it easy for reporters to access background information.
Things such as bios, fact sheets about your company, downloadable photos, your logo, and other materials should be accessible in your online pressroom. It’s best to not make your pressroom password-protected.
4. Do what you say you’re going to do.
If you interview with a reporter and promise to send them a White Paper you’ve written, send it when it was promised. If you promise to follow up with the answer to a question that you were unsure of during the interview, follow through.
5. Give reporters and bloggers additional leads on stories they might be interested in, even if those stories aren’t about you.
Those leads can include people who are doing innovative things in their industries or those who would make interesting profile stories. Leads can also include emerging industry trends, and ways that companies or nonprofits are using technology to save time and money. If you can provide background for any of those stories, let the reporter know.
6. Read stories they produce, and provide feedback.
Do this very carefully.
Let’s say you work for the county health department and you want to establish a relationship with the local health reporter. Read her stories regularly and occasionally offer feedback. Were they accurate? Did she miss a key angle of the story? Was the story well-reported? Yes, you might end up offering unsolicited comments to a reporter who has a thin skin. But any competent reporter should welcome feedback.
For bloggers, this includes commenting at their blog. Check back at the blog periodically after you comment. Good bloggers respond to comments and often keep the conversation going.
7. Pitch follow-up stories.
If a journalist interviewed you six months ago, and something significant has happened since then that ties into the story, let them know. Journalists love “follow up stories,” and so do readers.
8. Stay in touch by offering reporters specific information they need.
While building relationships with reporters, ask: “How can I help you?” Listen to what they tell you, and give them what they need. “How can I help you?” is just one of 10 magic phrases that journalists and bloggers love.
9. Never go over a reporter’s head and complain to their boss unless you have talked to the reporter first.
Relationships with journalists won’t always be rosy. When a reporter treats you poorly, or writes a story you think is biased, or includes an inaccuracy in an article, resist the temptation to immediately contact their boss.
Call the reporter first and discuss it. If you don’t like what you hear, then and only then, contact a supervisor.
10. Say thank you.
So few people write thank you notes anymore. If you do, you’ll really stand out from the crowd. Never thank a blogger or journalist for covering your story. Instead, thank them for their in-depth interview, their accurate story, their thorough questions, or their writing style. And never thank them “for giving me publicity.”
Another effective way to thank journalists and bloggers is to share links to their articles and blog posts on the social media sites.
What have I missed? What do you do to be an indispensible media source?