The PRCA’s recent PR Census found that the UK PR industry is worth £12.9bn per year stemming from 83,000 PRs, a number that has risen by 21,000 since their last census in 2013. That rate of growth is staggering, and it stands to reason that as the pool gets larger the noise levels rise. In such a large crowd, how can one individual make their voice heard above the rest?
One of the first things I was told when entering the industry was the importance of media relations. There is little point in having a story if you have no means of telling it. A big part of this is providing relevant, interesting, topical content. This may sound obvious, but there is a reason that some journalists consider PRs to be pests, as opposed to being a useful source.
While the industry isn’t what it was a few decades ago, where boozy lunches with clients and journalists were used to build relationships, the industry is still all about rapport. While the entertainment side of the role can go a long way, making a journalist’s job easier by consistently providing articles of genuine interest can go even further. Here are some tips for building a positive relationship with a journalist:
- Don’t approach the wrong person – approaching the wrong journalist is a sure-fire way to irritate them. When choosing targets it is important to take into account their role as well as their beat and make sure you are approaching the correct person in the correct position.
- Know your news – it is crucial that you know your news, and can talk to a journalist about why this is important. There is a strong chance that a journalist will ask you questions about the news you are pitching if they are interested. Preparation is key to avoid being caught out, so making sure you fully understand what you are selling is essential.
- Know the journalist’s preference – while some journalists will prefer an email-only approach others will be more susceptible to a phone call. Some would prefer an email pitch before starting a conversation. It is integral that you pick up on this early doors so you stand a better chance of getting their interest.
- Have a conversation – if you have built up a rapport with a journalist, and they have the time, then it makes sense to approach with a brief conversation before pitching your news to them.
Here at Spark we are taught a best practice approach to journalist communication. We marry this with a number of engaging journalist outings such as our recent Bubble Football and Ping Pong events to build a relationship that goes beyond a two-minute pitch call.