Networking with the media has become easier in the digital era of social conversations and e-mail. Human connection, however, is declining.
Digital media’s rise in the Indian landscape has changed networking capacities and given birth to multiple ways of building new connections without actually meeting people in the flesh and building relations, as we used to.
That’s a shame, because people need to truly connect with people.
Creating real professional connections to build better public relations is still 100% valuable. When no connection exists, the key in promoting your company and product still lies in developing a professional network with the media and journalists.
Networking events, for instance, are hugely valuable for entrepreneurs to build relations and create solid networks with the media in a specific domain. Media rounds and cold calls or emails to network and contact journalists are also effect. To make yourself known to the media, you don’t simply fire off press releases.
Communicate with Journalists by Offering Your Help with Your Domain Expertise
Entrepreneurs attending a networking event typically come with a problem or challenge that they face, and they’re seeking answers. Journalists are similar. They come in the hopes of finding a hot product, good rumours, or other information that will help them turn out some great news.
Help them to find what they’re looking for.
When you meet journalists for the first time, ask questions to find how you can be of value to them. Any value you provide or suggestions you can offer will prove your value. This is something they’ll remember, and they’ll look to you as a resource. This, in turn, can lead to lasting ties. And you can call on these ties when you’re launching your product or you need some coverage.
Be Inquisitive and Aware of Their Domain/Beat
Come prepared to a networking event with the knowledge about attendees. So, ask questions first and listen to what they have to offer. If you are coming to meet someone specific, do a basic research about them, their areas of expertise and interests, and have a list of questions ready. Ask smart questions – it shows that you respect the journalist’s time, enhancing your chances of being remembered for longer.
Cheryl Conner, from Forbes, says, “Read the writer’s prior articles. Thoroughly.” In the Money20/20 trade show in Las Vegas, she responded only to one pitch, in which the PR person tied her idea to two of Cheryl’s recent articles. She suggests that a pitch should be exclusively targeted to the journalist you are speaking with, crisp, and to-the-point, so they can actually use it to create a story.
Listen To What the Media Say About Your Industry or Competitors
After asking good questions, be prepared to listen actively. Active listening is vital in productive communication and relationships. If you’re genuinely interested in people, they’re more likely to become interested in you. Active listening seeks to engage your mind in listening without focusing on anything else.
Monosyllabic answers suggest that you’re not listening. Journalists deal with a myriad of people each day and they can quickly tell if you’re not paying attention to them by your verbal responses and your body language. Small smiles and nods in the conversation show that you’re paying attention to the speaker and receiving the full message. Add brief verbal affirmations like “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” “Thank you,” or “I understand” to show you’re right there with them, and engaged.
Stay in Touch
As much it’s important to make new connections, it’s equally essential to develop relationships with journalists you’ve previously met. Texting or emails is OK, but give them a call every now and then to check in. Ask them about new happenings in the industry or have a conversation about one of their recent stories. This ties back to showing interest and active listening. Connect with them over their personal successes or career highlights. Media people are busy, so touch base with them periodically. It helps them remember you when an opportunity arises.
Journalists receive numerous pitches and press releases every day. Often, it’s more than they can handle, so they have to manage their time and energy carefully. They won’t remember your story unless they personally get to know you. Try to stay connected and meet them in person to establish a stronger relationship.
Use Social Media to Communicate
Journalists are active social media users because they need to constantly have their finger on the pulse. Tools such as Twitter help them follow many voices while sharing their own work. Follow their stories, engage with them over their posts/tweets, answer questions they post and build a rapport with intelligent conversations. If they post something relevant to you, share it and credit them.
And don’t just “like” their posts or comment “good point”. Leave comments that show you’re engaged and interested. This solidifies the connection, and of course, they’ll love the added exposure you give their work.
Sign up to WhatsApp groups like OneSource to remain connected with recent developments in the journalistic world. It also helps you communicate easily with specific people you intend to pursue a professional relationship with.
For example, on your social channels you can promote the work of a journalist you hope will take a look at your brand. The key is to do it expecting results, just do it from the perspective of helping someone, of adding value to their life. Those good deeds do accrue, and you’ll feel good about yourself as well.
Share their work on Facebook or re-tweet their articles, complimenting why you liked their work. Complements make a huge difference for journalists, who so often are criticized. Let them know they’re making a difference. It will send more readers to them, and it will pave a way for you to ask for their help when you need a bit of PR.
Media networking is all about getting your name, face, and business card into the world of news and information. It about making connections when none exist and, even more, it’s about making real connections.
That’s what Eight is about as well. We want you to meet, connect, help, and prosper.
Make an impression by following these tips to make a lasting impression and effective relationship for better media relations.