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Friends with Benefits: How to Make Yourself and Your PR Team More Valuable for Journalists

The press release has been drafted, the pitch has been written, the follow up email has been sent, and now it’s time for the phone call. You pick up the phone, excited and eager to talk to the reporter who covers the beat of your client. The reporter answers and you hear, “Sorry I can’t discuss this. I’m on deadline.” Click.

We’ve all been there.

It’s no surprise that journalists need PR professionals just as much as we need them. With services like HARO and ProfNet, journalists are always looking for expert sources. Here are a few suggestions of what you can do to make yourself and your PR team more valuable for journalists:

1.) First and foremost, you need to respect the reporter’s deadline. If its 4:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, chances are your release is going to go unnoticed until the following week. Make sure you pick a prime time to get in touch with the reporter (the earlier the better) and understand when they say they have a deadline. You have a boss who needs something done at a certain time and guess what? So do they.

2.) Pitch your story but make it simple and to the point. You should provide the reporter with as much information as possible, but keep it brief. Reporters are overloaded with information all day so don’t make their job harder.

3.) Do your homework and make sure you’re pitching the correct reporter. If you’re pitching a story about fashion, don’t pitch the healthcare reporter. Learn the beats of reporters and their publications so you don’t waste anyone’s time.

4.) Be persistent but know when to back off. It’s okay to call or follow up but don’t do it everyday. Sometimes a phone call goes unnoticed or an email ends up in a spam folder, but don’t call every few hours asking if the reporter has read your press release yet. Also, no means no. If a reporter tells you they’re not interested, they’re not interested. Be creative, ask if there’s another angle to the story and take it from there.

5.) Send well written press releases. Did you know that only about 10 percent of press releases that end up in a journalist’s inbox actually gets read? Poorly written, spammy press releases deserve to be part of the 90 percent that goes unread.

The relationship between a journalist and PR professional will always be around. Like with every relationship, there will be bumps in the road along the way. At the end of the day, you both need each other and as long as you continue to provide reporters with relevant information, they’ll continue to view you as a go-to source.

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