The concept is simple yet may feel out of reach in today’s always-on media environment: reporters will pay attention to you if you pay attention to them. Here are four ways to get a reporter’s attention:
Give them the story by which to tell their story: There is a difference between a news and press release. If you send press release to media houses, they might shape it using their own news judgment. Instead, why not save them the stress of rewriting the release into a story by forming a news story from your own press release. This will give you as a PR Person the opportunity to shape the story the way you want people to see it. Though there is nothing wrong in sending ordinary press release but in most cases, you can easily give the media the story by which to tell their own story. As a consumer of news and information yourself, you are attracted to the stories about people, about a certain firm, family or community.
Serve up the visuals: Sometimes pictures alone are enough to tell a convincing story to the audience as a picture tell a story more than a thousand words. As a Public Relations Officer, the media will always pay attention to you if you always have pictures to buttress your story. Apart from adding conviction to the story, have you imagined how good pictures help to beautify pages? In this vein, whether it’s a few charts and graphics, an infographic or eye-catching photographs, visuals are gold for reporters who are now (somewhat reluctantly) multimedia journalists. Make her job easier by handing over the visuals.
Know (and understand) what they report on: In a well-organized media outlet, journalists are designated to different beats. This ranges from sports, defence, politics, education, fashion and the likes. It is now the responsibility of the PR Person to know which reporter to give what. It is pertinent to know what beat each reporter covers in order not to bore them with ‘strange’ materials. Make sure you read up on what the reporter has covered in the past year, take notice of his writing style and technique, and be ready to accept that maybe this particular reporter does not cover your industry. Also be in tune to what their competitors are covering – reporters are a competitive breed and will appreciate your keeping them up to date on competitive coverage they might have missed.
Share information with no strings attached: Public Relations and the media need each other. While the latter need the former for news, the former will depend on the latter for proper publicity. Information is currency: give it to the reporter without expecting an instant payback. Reporters will always pay attention to you when you are always the first to break news to them. As a PRO, share news that is not widely reported yet, tell the reporter what you heard or saw at an important conference (which of course, you attended), and don’t ask for anything in return. Reporters will think the world of you.
With tight deadlines, smaller newsrooms, a more educated readership and an unrelenting news cycle, journalists need trusted, go-to sources and great PR partners who understand them.