5 ways to build relationships with the media 

- August 14, 2023 3 MIN READ

Business, at its heart, is all about people – building relationships and establishing trust. For a PR campaign to succeed, startups and small businesses need to invest in building relationships with key journalists to achieve solid results, writes Kathryn Van Kuyk and Anthony Caruana, Co-CEOs and Co-Founders, Media-Wize.

For many startups and small businesses with limited budgets to spend on PR, building relationships can seem like a luxury only afforded to bigger companies, but it doesn’t have to be this way,

Here are five easy ways to build relationships with key media to help make your business and brand stand out.

1. Follow journalists on social media

Almost all Australian journalists are on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn and increasingly Threads. Start by researching the news outlets and publications that you would like to be in. Don’t just focus on big mastheads, also consider the trade media outlets that cover your industry news and the media outlets your customers watch and read. Identify the editors and journalists who are writing stories regularly that would be a fit for your business. Then find them on social media and follow them. Watch what they post for insights on the type of content and news that is of most interest to them, and like and engage with them in their posts. If you’re lucky, they might follow you back.

2. Every opportunity is a step toward fostering a relationship

Every opportunity you get to communicate and connect with a journalist is an opportunity for your spokesperson and brand to forge an ongoing relationship. Too often, we see startups and SMBs only focused on the big-tier media outlets and slow to respond and take the trade publications reporters seriously. Treat every journalist as though they are of utmost importance. Grab every opportunity you can get to talk to them and present your key messages. It is important to remember that a young journalist today at your local paper may tomorrow be at a key major newspaper, so don’t make them feel like they’re a bother. Be as helpful and engaging as possible, and remember to follow them on social media.

3. Don’t spray and pray

Carefully research and target the right journalists with your news and information. Spraying and praying out press releases is the fastest way to have the media disengage with your news. Be relevant, be targeted, do the homework, and if you’re unsure, gain an expert PRs’ assistance to help you in this process. The aim is to understand what different media outlets are reporting, how they like information to be presented and to help their journalists do a better job by providing them with strong story ideas that will resonate with their readers.

4. Attend events where journalists might be present

If you can attend events where you know journalists might be in attendance, try to seek them out, but don’t stalk them. If you get the chance to meet and speak to them, be armed with a compelling quick elevator pitch. But be careful. This should not be a sales message. It should be to tell the journalist who you are, WHY you do what you do, the problem you’re solving and HOW you’re different. Tell them in a passionate, confident and engaging way, and if you get it right, they might ask for your business card so they can find out more about you.

5. Partner with PRs that have the industry contacts you want to target

When examining a freelance PR or an agency, ask questions about the type of clients they work with and try to find someone with experience in your specific industry. This will maximise the chances they will know your target media and can help guide you and assist you in the process above. But you shouldn’t just flick the switch on PR and think this has ticked the box. As a founder or a spokesperson, it is important that you build your own rapport with target journalists and play an active role in fostering this ongoing. Otherwise, if your PR team departs you will be back to square one. The most effective business leaders know this. They foster their own connections in addition to having PR teams assist them.

Remember, building relationships with any cohort is playing the long game. If you invest the time in fostering relationships with journalists, you increase your chances of being a source they will contact when they’re working on a story that you’re a fit for and can help position you as a thought leader in your industry.

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