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. In my business I have have worked with all types of reporter personalities and have learned a thing or two about this very difficult job. While there are as many different types of reporters personalities as there are types of reporters there are some basic traits you should be aware of when trying to connect.
Here Are 5 Repoter Traits You Need To Understand When Trying To Build Relationships
1. Reporters 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 ten years ago the typical news reporter for a small paper 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.
2. Reporters 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, in past years the entire NPR staff has gone through a large amount of digital training to refresh their staff’s skills so they can do more tasks on their own without depending on as many support people. 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.
3. Reporters 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 have put together media packages with clients in the past that include fun and innovative give aways, unique ways to present the press release (an example is putting the release on a usb stick that is in the shape of an airplane for a recent launch of a new airplane exhibit) and other fun ways to get attention. If you are launching some thing big, you will want to put budget into the outreach efforts with reporters and create a media package that will get attention. If it is a small campaign or you don’t have budgets for these “wow” media packages then use your skills to craft emails that are personal and pitch the story in way that will get attention. Also don’t be afraid of using the phone and calling a reporter to ask if they received your pitch.
4. Reporters Wait for No One
Once you’ve hooked a reporter and they’re interested in your company, story, event or whatever it is you are pitching, you need to 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 is. Find out what they need, and get it to them ASAP. Make it easy for them to write this story about you. We keep Dropbox files with media ready photos for our clients and can send a link with photos, company bio and additional information at the drop of a dime.
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! Make it easy for them to write the story about you. Respond immediately to all requests and give them all materials they ask for immediately.
5. Reporters 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. Out of all the professions in the world, the reporter is one that can get slighted when it comes to accolades. Once they file the story it can be easy to focus only only on the story thinking they did their job and therefore your interaction with them is done. Don’t do that. The minute the story is published, reach out to the reporter and tell them thank you. Post their story and tag then on your social media channels and thank them using their personal Twitter or name them on Facebook posts. Whatever you can do to say thank you and give them some attention will go a long way to future stories they may write. Saying thank you should be something you do in all your business operations, but with reporters go the extra mile. It does matter.
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. Make sure you are valuable to reporters, give them tips on stories that involve you and others and be friendly. Keep in touch even when you are not pitching a story and treat them with the same respect you would treat any team member. Reporters can be a very valuable part of your marketing team so make sure you invest your time in cultivating these relationships ongoing.