Media relations is a big part of what we, as communicators, do. Working with reporters is a priority for us at AHA. Everyone at our Vancouver PR Agency knows the value of a solid relationship with a journalist and we focus on developing and maintaining those media relationships.
I worked at Maclean’s magazine for a lot of years. I got to see how all types of PR people approached pitching. Some were good, some were awful (really, really awful); the best built relationships beyond the immediate pitch. They created a connection that respected the roles of both the reporter and the communicator. They went out of their way to establish mutual respect. Building these relationships doesn’t mean you get a free pass from the journalist, it means that you understand the objective each person has, you work in partnership so that it works for everyone involved and you respect how the person has to do their job.
We take media relations very seriously here at AHA. While we don’t know every journalist in North America – or even, Vancouver. When we take on a client, we learn who the journalists are that cover that industry. We read, we watch, we listen, and we pay attention. We understand what makes a good pitch in that context. We become immersed in what makes a good story in the context of what is going on in the industry and the world at that time. We develop our pitches and we go through a process that has us pitching our colleagues to see if there are any holes or weak spots in our pitch. This process is challenging, but it makes us better at what we do.
Ragan.com has a good piece on its site that outlines other key things to do when working with reporters. It’s worth a read.