The PR Pro and the Journalist: How to Save a Marriage
Sometimes we in the public relations profession feel practically married to journalists, for better or for worse. If you’re a PR pro, you may have experienced the loneliness of the holidays, when many journalists go on vacation and forget about you. Maybe you tried to spice up your “marriage” this past Valentine´s Day, sending beautiful press releases along with charming emails, gifts, and marketing campaigns created to make them fall in love again – both with you and the clients you represent. But sometimes, as in any relationship, it’s just not enough. If you want to keep your coverage hot throughout the year, you will have to work hard, pick your battles and give it your all.
As a former journalist for many years, I know there are different types of reporters. There is the jealous type, for example: If they feel like they´re not the only one getting your juicy exclusives they might terminate the relationship and move on. Sometimes they ask for your unconditional attention, but it’s not reciprocal. The key factor here is balance. You have to take care of your journalist and learn to maintain a healthy relationship where happiness is mutual.
Before getting into a media relationship, prepare for a life of interesting angles, relevant messages and enticing visuals, built upon a base of honesty, enthusiasm, patience, and knowledge.
But be careful! Here are some of the most common reasons that may lead your journalist to file for divorce:
Cheating: Did you promise him a great exclusive and you sent it out to all of your contacts at the same time? That´s definitively unforgivable.
Lack of commitment: Did the journalist ask you for a favor and you did not meet the deadline? That hurts.
Too much arguing: Are you calling him after he publishes an article to point out a minor mistake? That only will get you into trouble.
Age disparity: If you´re an entry level PR pro and you´re dealing with an expert journalist you might have to ask for help.
You expect everything to be perfect: Journalists are human beings. If you really want to make it work, don´t get mad if he is late for the appointment or doesn´t do exactly what you´re asking for.
Lack of preparation: Always make sure to give the journalist the material needed to write the story.
Losing touch: Don´t bother him only when you need him. Develop a real and honest interest in how the journalist is feeling (for instance: is he busy or worried about a story that is due?) And most of all, share and demonstrate that you want him to succeed.
Share interests: Don´t send him things he doesn´t care about. You should know better.
As in a real marriage, patience, commitment and communication is key. Give the journalist enough time to fall in love with your story, but not too long that he/she will lose interest. Follow these tips and you will never burn your media relationships and have to file for divorce. Rather, media will look to you as a trusted source of information and proactively reach out to you from the bottom of their hearts.