Every PR professional welcomes the opportunity to get face-to-face with relevant journalists, building relationships and understanding what that writer is looking for with regards to ideas and material. However, against a backdrop of shrinking newsrooms, an increasing number of key writers are choosing – or being forced down – the freelance route, making such opportunities hard to come by. Thus, dedicated media conferences – bringing comms professionals and journalists together – have consequently become key dates in the calendar. But how do you successfully grab the attention of a key writer when everyone else is trying to do the same? Here are BlueSky’s top five tips to help you achieve it:
Research, research, research!
You will know in advance which journalists are attending the conference, so make sure you know what they write about, themes and angles that motivate them, their style and who they write for. A little bit of flattery never goes amiss either, and pick out a specific piece of their work instead of giving an overview as it will highlight a genuine interest in what they publish.
Make it all about them
The best form of networking is showing how you can help the journalist rather than how they can help you. An altruistic approach as oppose to looking for immediate ROI is a great way to start building a relationship.
Is it really unique?
Using words like ‘unique’ will set off an alarm in any journalists head. So make sure you’ve done a credibility check first. Is your client’s recent research actually telling the world something new? The same can be applied to absolute adjectives such as ‘best’, ‘leader’, ‘most’ etc. So make sure you aren’t feeding the journalist false praise about a contact’s work or actions.
Don’t monopolise their time
Knowing when your time is up is vital. You want to come across as helpful, informed and professional – not a bore who waffles and gives off the impression of border-line stalker.
It’s a date!
Attempt to establish a definite commitment on your part to do something helpful or useful. It’s a lot more effective to have an actual reason to get in touch rather than be just another of the 50 people that they have no memory of.
So, know the people you are trying to form a relationship with, show how you can benefit them, check your work is truly unique before claiming it, use the time efficiently and don’t overstay your welcome, and finally, come away with a definite commitment to do something useful giving a reason to get in touch.
To read more about this and view the edition of Wildfire that this blog was based on, click here.