|Image by Flickr user Justien Van Zele.CC BY 2.0|
Do you regularly churn out stories in the media? Do your news get covered in the mainstream media regularly?
If your answer is “YES”, you are faring well in your profession.
Read: How do you get your stories out in the media?
If your answer is “No”, you need to strengthen your media relations.
So, how do you build relationships with journalists?
Follow the journalists on social media
Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to follow the journalists on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Find out the journalists writing on the issues that matters to your organisation and send them friendship requests. It is likely that they will accept your request. However, if they don’t accept your request, you still have the option to follow them, comment on their articles or blogs and start conversation by replying to their tweets or retweeting their tweets with your added inputs. The conversations will help you build an online relationship helping further to build a real life relationship.
Have a chat over a cup of coffee
Meeting journalists over a cup of coffee will help you know them personally and allow you to talk about your organisation and your projects. Make sure to meet the journalists in person with whom you have built a good online relationship.
Organise a monthly get-together
Don’t just call the journalists during the press conferences, try inviting 2-3 or more journalists once a month for a chat over a cup of coffee or have a lunch meeting with them. The journalists are busy and might not respond to your invitation, so don’t get disheartened. Also, don’t expect them to cover your news or run your stories in return. However, you can make the meeting interesting by inviting somebody from your field who can talk about the work he or she is doing.
Take them on a field trip
The easiest way to get your stories in the media and build relationship with the journalists is to take them on a media trip. As you accompany them for the whole period, you not only get to know them personally but also get to know their preferences and interests. In the future, it will help you pitch stories that they would be interested to feature. However, don’t ask them to write stories the way you like. It is up to them to write the stories. Give them the liberty to pick the issues and write independently. But make sure to give them an overview of your work, guide them as per the itinerary and help them identify the beneficiaries whom they can interview.
Read: 7 media trip essentials
Make sure to invite them to important seminars and workshops
Journalists are always in the look out for interesting news, data and any sort of innovation about which they can write. Whenever you organise any seminar or workshop where something new and interesting is being discussed, make sure to invite some of the interested journalists. Also make sure to invite them to any talk show or interaction if some experts are invited to your office.
Train the journalists on technical issues
Another important thing that can help you build relationship is organising trainings to build the capacity of journalists. For example, if you organise a training to familiarise or educate journalists on climate change buzzwords, it will not only benefit the journalists but will also help you advocate for your issues.
Award the journalists covering your issues
Though it’s a very expensive way of building relationships, it will let you advocate for your issue. And the awarded journalists and his friends will always be positive towards your organisation and your issue. However, make sure the panels choose the right candidates without any bias. Otherwise, instead of doing good, it might backfire.
And finally, continue with the relationships...
Just like in real life, once you build relationship, make sure to give continuity to it. Whether you want the journalists to cover your news or not, don’t forget them. Always keep in touch. Let them know that you are not after them only for getting your stories covered. And it will help you build long term relationships, for sure.