Ever known someone who only contacts you when they need something? It certainly doesn’t inspire feelings of warmth and generosity toward that person. The thing is, many public relations professionals make this very mistake: only reaching out to the media when they have a blog post, article or feature idea. To be more effective with members of the media, and influence more placements, we need to make more of an effort to develop a relationship; to stay in touch in between the times when we request coverage.
I am not suggesting that relationship is more important than the news-value proposition. The strongest news content geared to the most appropriate media outlet will always be paramount. We make it much more difficult, however, to establish a fair hearing for our ideas without a current relationship with the media professional. Familiarity can easily lead to a greater level of trust (assuming trust hasn’t been broken) and a willingness to listen to and consider the PR professional. When it comes down to it, gaining a listening ear with the media professional is really the critical first step in getting your ideas covered.
Staying current with the media professionals important to you needn’t be a time consuming or cumbersome process. Simply make sure you stay on their radar. Connect with them in whatever ways they feel comfortable allowing you to do that. For example, if you’ve read and enjoyed one of their articles, send them a short email to let them know. On Twitter, you can follow them and send them an occasional “@reply” or direct message. If they have a blog, leave genuine comments periodically that add depth to their community. Perhaps even an old-school phone call would be acceptable. Get creative and let them know that you’re listening. They will appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn about them and what they cover.
The key in all of this is to be authentic and balanced in your efforts. As much as the feedback and attention is often appreciated, frequent contacts can be a turn off. Stay current, but don’t smother. If you’re able to stay current effectively, it will help your plans of gaining coverage for yourself or your organization.
What do you think?