Media are extremely busy, and there is very little time in their day to be building relationships with every company/contact who is pitching them. The good news is there is a way to cut through the clutter, and work to build relationships with your priority media contacts.
1. Provide quality content – This is the number one way to build good relationships with media. Even if your best friend works at Good Morning America, he or she is not going to consider a story that isn’t a fit for the audience, is too promotional, etc.
The best approach is to do your homework before pitching media contacts. Understand what the reporter is interested in and understand the media outlet’s target audience. Only pitch content you truly feel will be a fit.
2. Respond in a timely manner – Media are always on deadline. If you are not responding in a timely manner to questions, photography requests, tour requests, etc., media will find another company/expert who will respond. And next time they are on deadline, you are not likely to be on their short list of people to contact.
Best thing to do when media does reach out, is immediately ask about their deadline, and do your best to meet it. If you don’t feel you can, be honest.
3. Meet media in person – Building a relationship face-to-face can be extremely beneficial. However, it still is necessary to provide quality content during these meetings, and create an open dialogue to determine what media is looking for and how you can help.
Again, do your homework and clearly understand the media contact and their target audience.
4. Engage Media & Listen – It is so easy for media to “listen” to your pitch, say no and hang up. But amazing things happen when you start to ask media about their interests and preferences. They more often than not, they are willing to take a minute out of their day to actually talk with you. Be sure to keep notes and apply what you learned.
Just like making new friends, building effective relationships does not happen over night. It takes time and dedication.