Six practical tips to deal with journalists

Let’s face it, clients are today demanding the best set of well-experienced PR experts. As professionals, we are responsible for creating a client’s image in public, by being the face of their company and by also facing the media. We’ve got to maintain both relationships. In this article, I’m going to talk about how one can establish a reputable relationship with the media by being practical

#1. Avoid the “let me call you back” hour: We’re all trained with PR techniques and skills, but you will feel confident with the media if you prepare too. What I mean is, be well-familiarized with your journalist. It’s true that they receive a lot of calls every day and for a fact, they can’t answer them all. So how do you avoid them ignoring you? 

Tip: Always ask if it’s the right time to speak, if not, do ask when the best time is next. Then, it’s very easy to heave into a long conversation, especially, when you really need their undivided attention. Respect their time and they’ll respect yours!

#2. Preparation is key: As an effective media relations specialist, it is essential to develop a strong relationship with journalists, bloggers and content writers who are hungry for new ideas and are willing to write a new story. For instance, when you've confirmed an interview slot with a particular journalist and you know that it's his/her first interaction with the client, ensure this:

Tip: Always send an email first stating your strategic purpose, attached with a media kit that includes a company profile, executive profile, photographs, quick facts and recent developments, couple of days ahead of an interview. Follow up with a call/message later!

#3. Create a boundary for any conversation: It is advised that we limit a conversation slot to 45 minutes, but you never know when an interesting point may lead to long conversations, right? In my experience, I’ve been literally yelled at by a journalist, for interfering at a wrong time while the client was really ‘okay’ to continue. So to ensure that doesn’t happen with you:

Tip: Understand your client’s exact availability and convey to the journalist before the interview starts or if that’s not possible, allow the client to speak for him/her during the conversation. The media loves to hear from the horse's mouth!

#4. Only a phone call away: If your client has crucial news to share but hasn’t confirmed on the press releases/announcement yet and it’s getting delayed… what’s the approach you must take?

Tip: Give a heads-up to ‘all’ relevant journalists and please avoid sharing ‘exclusively’ with just one media outlet – it’s not fair on others, really!

#5. Do not hesitate to ask for help: While, we’re ensuring to save the right journalists in our media lists, reading about their stories on timely basis, to win their trust, it’s difficult to know their movements. For instance, you may not know that a journalist today, has moved to another publication or has changed their beat. 
Tip: Either you research the journalist by their name or call your favorite (with whom you have a good relationship) journalist and request them to give you the relevant journalist’s contact details. A quick method to keep your media list updated too. Worked for me!

#6. Show the ‘right’ PR attitude: Remember that you’re working with the media and not against. Once you’ve developed the relationship with the media, it doesn’t mean you get over-friendly and forget your manners! It is always a good idea to keep them updated and not wait for them to call you one day, unless you think your client has it all!... 

Tip: Thank journalists who are telling the client story in public and give them a hook for their next story.

If you’ve any more tips that may keep us intact with the media, start sharing now!  

Aahna Gandhi received a special mention in the PRmoment India 30 under 30 list, 2015

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