Journalists are one of the main influencers you need to appeal to when it’s time to get your product or message to the public, but there is more to it than a simple phone call or email. They get overwhelmed with people who are wanting help. However, helping you is not their job. Journalists want a story that is going to increase their readership or ratings. They have to have a message that will appeal to a large audience, so you need something that will grab attention.
Laying your groundwork early is a huge step in the right direction in gaining professional contacts. Are you knowledgeable about certain topics? Establishing yourself as an expert can make you the source reporters seek when needing another voice to a story. It opens doors for having a relationship with a journalist, but could even lead to other opportunities to speak. You may even decide to have your own blog or podcast, increasing your name recognition.
How can you get started?
- Networking through social media is a simple way to get started. Do not “stalk” or assume a relationship that is not there, but comment on posts and let your name become familiar. This is a controlled environment that does not become intrusive. You want to come across as a professional rather than an obsessed fan. This also gives you the chance to see the type stories they are more interested in.
- Be an Expert that can provide useful information to help them. If you are a known authority in your field and available to speak with a reporter to give valuable insights, you become a source for journalists to contact. If you see a news story that you can add to with a fresh point of view or opinion, reach out and offer to share it. Contact them if you have something to offer that will help them.
- Personal angles on stories that have been in the news may be a perfect follow-up story for reporters. Offer to share how this story or something similar has impacted your life. This can be local, but never rule out national and international stories; reporters love to do the “hometown” angle to bring a story closer to their viewers/readers. Journalists want to provide a unique story that will draw people to it. This may even provide an opportunity to share something promotional about your product or business.
- Community involvement can be beneficial in many ways. Of course, a genuine desire to be a part of and help your community is vital. Contacts made can prove useful on many levels. Have you ever had a “go-to” person? It’s the one person you can count on who is knowledgeable about people, events, resources, etc. and can give you a name and contact info for what is needed. You can be known as that person.
- Tithing your time is a habit one of my friends has. He spends 10% of each day finding ways to help others. Not only does it make him feel good about helping others, but it causes others to want to reciprocate. Simply sharing and being kind to others does make a tremendous difference.