Journalists are fearless. Growing up I had always perceived journalist as fearless and strong people. I was not wrong. In the field of Public Relations I came across many journalists and my perception still stands strong.
However, what I didn’t know was that journalist are tough people to crack. It isn’t easy to warm up to a journalist, how would it be?
Journalist get a hundred calls from public relations professionals in a day.
They cannot be blamed. That does not stop us. We need to pursue them, it’s our job. This is where your relationship skills come in handy. One must create a bond. If you have a strong connection things become easier. Relationships bring confidence and trust! The journalist would be keen in helping out a friend in need anytime. The favour must be returned. But this relationship only forms after a period of time.
Though at times, you might not have a great bonding with the journalist but they would do a favour anyway. In these cases the journalists might be brand loyalists. Journalists can be faithful towards a certain brand, however the brand maybe performing, they always be covered in the positive light. As a PR professional we do not have to persuade the journalist to great lengths for a story.
Relationships with Journalists are a very strong factor in the life of a PR professional.
Yet, while interning at a PR firm I saw another angle to this relationship. At times the way you talk matters. My colleague pitched to a journalist that he had never spoken before. The result? He received coverage. I learnt that day, other than relationship, how you pitch yourself does matter.
A relationship just does not form over night. It takes time. How your personal relationships are nurtured the same way professional relationships are to be nurtured.
Nurturing could be anything from wishing happy birthday to remembering important dates in their family. But if you want to stand out, sending cakes and flowers will always work. It would not work if you do it once, you have to maintain the relationships. This was the reasons media rounds were introduced. In media rounds the PR professional gets to interact with the journalists and not just call them for work.
When journalists are in need of favour, always return it, tomorrow you might be in the same position. Building and maintaining relationships is a tough task but the result will always be fruitful. During my internship at MSL Group, Mumbai, a colleague of mine, interacted with a journalist in Singapore for two years just for a coverage. It was time consuming and difficult but she was patient. She received her reward after two years in the form of an entire two page story. Relationship and patience can give great results.
One of the most important learning during my internship was, Relationships with Journalists do matter.
This blog post originally appeared on the author’s blog site.