The Dating Game – Developing Reporter Relationships

It all starts with “hello.”   A few exchanges occur and you find yourself involved in a blossoming relationship…with a reporter.  It’s not marriage you’re after, but rather, a mutually beneficial working partnership between PR pro and journalist.

So…Shaken or Stirred?

Much like dating, the first exchange is always the hardest.  How do you virtually approach reporters you’ve never met?  Most importantly, how do you grab their attention and keep their interest?  First, do some research.  It’s the one advantage the PR dating game has over the real-world dating game.

  • Read up on the reporter’s most recent stories. Get a feel for what’s been sparking their interest as of late – and don’t forget to gauge their style and angle.  What they covered – and how they wrote – may have changed throughout the course of their career
  • Don’t forget about social media. Is the reporter active on Twitter?  Are their posts more formal or informal?  How can you structure your pitch – both subject and body – to come off as a warm lead rather than a cold lead?

How Much Does a Polar Bear Weigh? 

Now that you have a good feel for the reporter, it’s time to reach out.  Luckily, there’s no need for cheesy pickup lines.  You’ve done enough research to a) cater the content to an angle that would interest the reporter and b) structure your pitch with a style to which the reporter will be most receptive.

  • K.I.S.S.: Keep it simple, stupid!  Try to keep your pitch as short as possible.  No one likes opening an email to discover it rivals that of a long novel
  • Show what you know. You’ve done the research – show the reporter you’ve read his or her pieces.  Reference an article.  Comment on their hometown.  Or maybe don’t do the latter unless you’re really smooth
  • Keep it casual. There’s no such thing as being too professional, but there is such a thing as being too dry.  Use your best judgment to find the happy medium for your pitch’s tone
  • Forget about the pitch altogether. Just reaching out to say hello or to send positive feedback about an article they wrote can do the job as well.  After all, who doesn’t like a little recognition?

I See a Future…

Relationships are constantly in motion – you must work to keep it up.  Same with the PR dating game.  Did a reporter recently cover a story from your pitch?  Send them a note to thank them.  Haven’t spoken in a while?  Send over a friendly note to check in.  If you’re not proactively pitching, keep up the rapport with your reporters – but only out of genuine desire to develop and maintain the relationship.  Insincerity can be detected easily – so make sure you’re staying true to your intentions.

We Can Make This Work

The dating game is full of twists, turns, ups, and downs.  In the end, give it your best shot and remember – the PR dating game isn’t much different than that of the real world.

Olivia Cho, 11mark

February 10, 2016

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