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“The Nature of the Beast” Reporter & Media 101: 5 Traits You Need to Know

Reporters. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, if you want to garner awareness for your business you’ll have to begin cultivating relationships with your local media and reporters.  And just like any good relationship, a solid foundation begins in a mutual understanding of each party. As a former journalist-turned-PR-enthusiast, I’ve worked in the newsroom with all types of reporter personalities. But regardless of what type of media and what type of reporter you’re trying to relate to, there are five consistent traits you need to be aware of:

They Are Busier Than You Think It’s been an age-old criticism that reporters are “lazy.” But for every reporter out there that may exacerbate this stereotype, there are 10 more that are working their behinds off. This couldn’t be any truer today. Since the dawn of the Internet, and the subsequent blogging phenomenon, the media sphere has been shrinking and shrinking. This is especially true for print newspapers, which are feeling the direct stinging impact of the readily available information on the Internet.  Newsrooms are getting smaller, and budgets are being cut. With that, reporters’ desks are getting fuller.  For example, at the daily newspaper I reported for, ten years ago the typical news reporter would work on about two pieces a day. With staffing cut, that same reporter is now doing four or five stories a day. Take into account the amount of research, fact-gathering, interviews and strict deadlines required for one polished piece- you’re talking a busy busy lifestyle! Keep this in mind when you’re trying to grow your relationship with a reporter. Don’t waste their time if you don’t have to.  It may seem impersonal at first, but the consideration will make for a better long-term mutually beneficial relationship. They Wear Many Hats It’s a time for irony if you work in media. Just as newsrooms are shrinking, the number of roles a typical reporter must take on is growing. Most community newspapers these days now require their reporters to not only write their story, but also to take their own pictures! At many larger news outlets reporters are required to write, take photos and even make videos for their own stories! For instance, the entire NPR staff just recently went through a large amount of digital training to refresh their  staff’s skills. While pursuing my journalism degree, I was expected to take classes in writing, broadcast, radio, Internet- you name it! Reporters need to be on the cutting-edge of trends in media, no exceptions. And the smaller the media outlet, the more hats they wear. They Want to be Wowed So now that you’re aware of just how stressful and busy the typical life of a reporter is nowadays, take that into account when you’re trying to gain their interest in your company. Sure, you could send them a generic news release. But on a typical day, a reporter will get dozens and dozens of news releases. You’ll need to find innovative ways to convey your company’s story and information. Make yourself stand apart from the Inbox. We’ll take some time later this month to talk about pitching and the best ways to go about attracting your reporter’s attention. Stay tuned! They Wait for No One Once you’ve hooked a reporter and they’re interested in your company, understand that their schedule does not slow down and stop for you. As the old saying goes, “The news waits for no one!” The best way to prepare for this is to talk with your reporter and get a better understanding of what their deadline. Find out what they need, and get it to them ASAP. As much as a reporter may seem excited about your company and your story, no matter how solid your relationship with them, they hold no allegiances. The news must go on! If you aren’t receptive to their timeline, then someone else will be. And if the media can’t get that information from you, they will find it elsewhere- and you may not like what they find! They Want to Feel Valued Once you’ve begun to form a relationship with a reporter, and they have given your company some media attention, follow up!  Let them know how much you appreciate their work. Trust me, the gratitude goes a long ways- especially if you intend on reaching out to this same reporter later on.   There you have it. 5 traits of the modern reporter.  Much of this blog may have felt like I’ve been putting the reporter, and media, on a pedestal. But it’s important to note that, even though it takes some fine-tuned tips and tricks to deal successfully with reporters, your relationship will be a team effort. Just as much as you will be relying on your media, your media contact relies on you to bring them newsworthy, interesting material.   Photo Credit 1 Photo Credit 2

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