We’re very lucky here at éclat. Our MD Dianne has a cracking little black book of journalists and every now and then she invites one to join us at the office to impart some of their wisdom. This time it was the turn of Mike Simons, a freelance journalist who previously held editor positions at ComputerWorldUK, TechWorld and Computer Weekly.
Mike joined us for a Friday afternoon chat (complete with Fat Friday cookies) and shared some of his top tips for building relationships with journalists:
- Always be friendly but professional. We all have those contacts we can drop a cheeky email or text to, but the majority of time you need to be courteous and polite in your outreach. An over-friendly email can, ironically, annoy a journalist who doesn’t really know you.
- Be realistic of the person’s knowledge around the topic. It’s all too easy to assume a technology journalist knows exactly what you’re talking about, but sometimes this may not be the case. Likewise, don’t assume the journalist knows nothing – you’ll only come across as patronising and condescending.
- Patience is definitely a virtue. You’re not the only one emailing/calling a journalist. The likelihood is that many a PR person before you has been trying to ‘reach out’. Bide your time; learn when they are too busy (the morning news rush for example); ask them if they have the time to talk before launching into your pitch. And I cannot stress this enough – definitely do not follow up an email with a call to check they got your email!
- Always follow up. I know we all say thank you to a journalist who has agreed to a briefing but don’t forget to go that extra step once the coverage appears. Retweeting and sharing on social media is key, with many journalists measured on the engagement they bring to a publication. Lastly, don’t forget to keep in touch and find out what they’re working on next – it could be another perfect opportunity for your client.
All in all, we had a great and educational afternoon with Mike, and I know we all came away knowing how we can improve our journalist relationships. Mike also regaled us with some interesting stories from his time as an editor and gave us a few top tips on how to encourage journalists to come along for an away day or trip. But I can’t share those with you I’m afraid – we need to keep some tricks up our sleeve.
When not in the office, Kelly can either be found either lusting over inappropriate footwear (for someone with a long-term knee injury) or trying to catch her rescue pooch, Polly. You can also find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.