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How to Build and Foster Relationships with Journalists 

[fa icon="calendar"] 10-Apr-2018 10:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

How to Build and Foster Relationships with Journalists

Given that I come from a PR background, my friends at Prowly asked me a few weeks ago for my top tips on how to build good relationships with journalists.

Edyta from Prowly had reached out to a number of great PR people to get their thoughts on the topic and compile them all into a very helpful post

I've so far had a terrible experience with PR pros pitching me as an influencer (check out some examples here - I promise, you'll have a good laugh), so I was delighted to share what I thought on the topic. 

Below, I'm republishing my part of the interview on how to do better media relations.  

#1 Media relations: the media are evolving at an incredibly high speed, but certain standards for collaborating with them remain unchanged. What are they, in your opinion?

We may be using a ton of different technologies and tools, but the human touch requirement remains the same. You need to treat journalists and influencers as people with interests and needs. You need to get to know them and be willing to help them. It’s that relationship-building that technology can’t replace.

#2 How NOT to build relations with the media? (PR specialist’s perspective, meaning the faults or sins committed by people representing your occupation).

Sadly, what I still see PR pros are doing is mass emailing. The client asks them to write a press release and then distribute it. Writing is the easy part. However, when it comes to the distribution bit, it almost feels like PR pros just don’t think. Instead of thinking about the right audience for the topic of each press release, they are simply sending to absolutely everyone in their database. I receive at least 10 completely irrelevant press releases a week (which I mark as spam right away) about construction, heavy machinery, etc., whereas my blog is about PR, marketing, and agency business. How the opening of a new construction site for XYZ is relevant to my blog, I still am trying to comprehend. PR pros could drive profoundly better results for their clients if they were to come up with a very specific list of journalists and influencers based on the topics they cover that are a good fit for what the press release really is about. It’s about them, not about you—PR pros should ditch the WIIFM approach.

#3 Think of a journalist with whom you’ve established particularly good relations and briefly describe how this relationship began and how you are nurturing and protecting it.

Going back many years (because I no longer work in earned media PR), I once managed to build a fantastic and productive relationship (on both) sides with two successful sisters, beauty bloggers. We had never met in person but through a multitude of Instagram likes and comments from my personal accounts, some relevant surprises, and a couple of phone calls to get to know each other and learn about our interests, we managed to come up with a great way of working together that benefited them and my client at the time. Whenever I had a new story for them, I would send them a quick email to their private address they had given me (not the public one) with all the details, and we’d get to working on pretty cool stuff together after that. I’m saying this because it points again the importance of relationship building and getting to know someone before you get down to business. This allows you to create a much more enjoyable and fruitful working relationship.

#4 In your opinion, the biggest ‘sins’ on the part of the media that are making relations with PR pros more strained, are… 

When a journalist gets burned by an unpleasant experience with a PR pro, they start to assume that all PR pros are the same, and begin to ignore their pitches, messages, or calls. PR pros can’t help you if you don’t let them, so giving others the benefit of the doubt might ultimately benefit both you as a media person and your story.


How do you build and foster relationships with journalists? 


This interview was originally published on Prowly.


Feel like you need to level up your media relations game? Learn how to do it the inbound way! 

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Topics: Public Relations

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Chief of Staff to the EMEA President at ServiceNow. Before that, she held global and EMEA-wide positions at Cisco and HubSpot. She is also certified by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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