Adding a “Social” Component Back into Media Relations

Merriam-Webster defines the word “relationship” as “the state of being related or interrelated; the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: such as kinship.”

To me, that definition is musty and antiquated and does little to capture the essence of the word.

Relationship is really a sense of affinity for or connection to another person—whether personal or professional.

Affinity and connection are also great for describing the ideal dynamic between a financial PR professional and reporter.

Sure, reporters and PR pros need each other to do their jobs effectively; but it’s the quality and nature of those interactions that make all the difference.

A 2018 article in Muck Rack noted that PR people outnumber journalists 6-1, up sharply from a 3-1 ratio ten years ago.

That means “good” is no longer good enough to break through the throng of PR people all vying for coverage for their clients.

When proactively reaching out to the media with a feature story idea, for example, having the respect of and an easy rapport with the reporter can give you the extra minute or two that allows you to lay out your pitch.

How to create a rapport with a reporter? Well, it doesn’t hurt to have an amiable, outgoing personality.

But you can, and should, take the next step and find out more about the reporter. What does he or she like to do away from work? A quick look at their Twitter or Facebook profiles can provide those answers quickly.

I often find that a reporter and I share a common interest, such as running or hockey or the appreciation for a small dog with a pushed-in nose.

As a general rule, if a reporter lists “training for 10Ks” in their Twitter profile, you can be relatively confident that they’re not going to be shy and reserved in discussing the subject. And who doesn’t like talking to another person who shares their passion or interest in an activity or hobby?

Even with everyone pressed for time, especially at New York PR agencies, there usually are a few minutes to connect with a reporter while providing them what they need.

Too often, PR people look at reporters as transaction-oriented automatons. But they are people, just like you, who want to do a great job and perhaps let their hair down for a minute or two.

At worst, it’s a not-unpleasant exchange in a divisive world. At best, it’s a connection that can lead to a more open dialogue, paving the way for both of you to become more valuable to each other.

And who knows, you might even make a friend in the process.

By Jeff Siegel, Vice President


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