If you don’t have a big PR budget, you’ll love this idea. In fact, it’s so cool, I wish I had thought of it myself.
Here’s how the “Reporter of the Month Club” works. Each month, you choose one reporter who works at a newspaper, magazine or newsletter you want to get into—preferably, a journalist who has influence in your industry. Then you spend the entire month studying that reporter.
How to Research Journalists
Study the topics they’ve written about. Make note of the sources they’ve contacted. If you notice that they quoted one source over and over, call that source and find out how they started to build the relationship with the journalist. At the end of the month, you’ll know so much about that reporter that when you call or email her for the first time to introduce yourself, you can refer to her stories or other observations about her work.
Dean says: “Once you get to know them, send a note commenting specifically on one of their stories. Write as an intelligent and cogent reader. Explain why the article was helpful. You can add a note about you and your expertise, the key is being subtle. Maybe after a couple of these intelligent notes, you can call. Journalists are flattered by someone who knows their work and chose them above all others.”
He’s right. About 99 percent of the people who contacted me during my two decades in the newspaper business wanted something. People who used my name when they called got one point. If they pronounced my tricky last name (Gestl) correctly, they got two points. If they told me they read one of my stories, I started paying attention. If they told me they’d been following me for years and quoted a few stories that were their favorites, they practically won my heart.
Journalists are like that.
Start a “Reporter of the Month Club.” And be sure to tell me about your successes so I can share them with the rest of my Publicity Hounds. In my “Special Report #49: 17 Ways to Build Valuable Relationships with the Media,“ I mention that the Number One thing reporters love to talk about is themselves. The Number Two thing they love to talk about is their work.
How to Help the Media
In my workshops and online training, I tell my audiences the most important question they can ask anyone in the media: “How can I help you?”
Pay attention to their answers. A reporter might ask if he can have your mobile number so he can call you during the evening if he has a question about your industry. Say yes.
A TV producer might ask you if you know of any other experts in your area who she can interview. Find them.
An editor might ask if you have statistics he can use to create a pie chart to accompany a story the newspaper is writing. If you don’t have the stats at your fingertips, collect them.
Keep asking “How can I help you?” Keep helping them do their jobs. And soon, you’ll have a healthy list of media contacts who will think you’re golden.