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How to Connect with the Media Before You Even Pitch a Story

Posted by Adam Yosim | June 7, 2019 | Comments (6)

Let’s say you’re going to a party, and you know someone will be there who you hope to meet and work with in the future. Would you introduce yourself by walking up to them and immediately start spouting off your resume and accomplishments? Probably not. Instead, you would get to know the other person with friendly conversation and look for areas of common ground to show how your expertise can benefit them personally. After, you might share your business card or find another way to connect again in the future. Over time, this can lead to a friendly and fruitful relationship for both of you.

We make introductions this way because, no matter our goals, working with people means building relationships. This also holds true when working with journalists.

Just as networking is a two-way street, the same goes for working with reporters. Even if you don’t have a story to pitch yet, or don’t feel ready to offer yourself as a source, you can still take steps to build a positive relationship with reporters in your niche. Later, when you’re ready to pitch, it will pay off tenfold.

Here are three ways you can start building relationships with reporters today:

1) Research

Building strong relationships with journalists starts with understanding where your expertise can bring value. Start by researching media outlets and their reporters, and develop a media list of local, regional and national reporters.

These might be outlets and reporters who cover careers and workplace topics, human resources, lifestyle, or other topics where your expert advice can offer insight. Taking a look at past articles and social media activity can be a quick way to identify the correct reporters.

Remember not to ignore niche media outlets, which can be just as influential for connecting to your target audience.

2) Make the Introduction

Once you’ve lined up your media targets, all you have to do is send a quick email, and presto—you’re getting your five minutes of fame, right? Guess again. Reporters’ inboxes are constantly flooded with dozens of pitches, including many that are off topic.

A better option would to be to reach out before you’re asking for coverage, without an agenda. Pay attention to the reporter’s latest articles, and when you find something you like, send a short but sincere note that lets them know how much you enjoyed it. Even something as simple as, “Hey Adam, I loved your story on preparing for Gen Z in the workplace. I passed it along to my network of managers and HR professionals that I coach” should work.

Journalists—who are stretched thin—will always appreciate a note of gratitude. In fact, they’ll often respond! Journalists can quickly detect an unsolicited pitch, but if they reply to your positive comment, it’s a good opportunity to share a sentence or two about your expertise and let them know you’re available if they ever need someone on coaching topics.

3) What You Say

The outreach in step 2 may nor may not earn you interview opportunities on its own, but either way, you’re fostering a positive relationship with the reporter with each touchpoint. When the time comes that you do have a pitch to share, the journalist will already have a sense of who you are and is likely to recognize your name in their inbox. This can go a long way toward earning coverage!

An Investment in Future Opportunities

It might seem daunting to start introducing yourself to members of the media, but this approach to friendly relationship building is a low-pressure way to get yourself started. Even better, as you build relationships with reporters, your familiarity with them is likely to make them seem less intimidating, which will help you be calm and professional when you earn an interview.

Adam Yosim headshot

Adam Yosim

Adam Yosim has a background in broadcast journalism, and he spent seven years as a local TV news reporter in North Carolina, Kentucky and Baltimore, Maryland. He is a senior account executive at Stanton Communications, ICF’s public relations agency of record. Adam specializes in media outreach and social media to earn positive media coverage for clients.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (6)

  1. روبکا says:

    Thanks for the great and useful

  2. Chris Sier says:

    Great article Adam. Fostering a good relationship is smart when connecting with the media and is also a good technique for people wanting to connect with companies. I certainly will keep your tips in mind!

    • Adam Yosim says:

      Thank you, Chris! As a former reporter, I always appreciated the personal touch people put on their notes when they had a great story idea.

  3. Dr. Reid says:

    I thought you made great points. I send press releases, notes about prior articles, related studies or other info to reporters to build relationships. I also just reach out to say hi or find out what they may be working on.

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