In the modern world, dating is an online game. First you find a profile you like, then you do some Googling, and then you make your move and hope they also see something they like and respond.
Working with journalists is no different. Finding the right journalist and sending them a pitch is a bit like saying: “Hey, I like you. Want to go on a date?” But instead of asking them on a date, you’re asking them to interview your client.
If it seems intimidating at first, that’s because it is. But just as with dating, practice and helpful tips from friends will set you on your way to your next great media relationship. Here are a few to get you started:
Make sure you actually read their ‘profile’
Or, in this case, their bio and recent articles. Get to know their beat and audience before you make your move, so you will be sending them information that they are actually interested in, substantially increasing the odds that they will respond to you.
Don’t be stingy with the compliments
Everyone likes to get recognized for what they do—and journalists are no different. So let them know if you really liked something they wrote. Compliments go a long way and could be a determining factor in whether they read past your opening line. But just like those “Hey babe, I think ur hot” messages that come through on dating apps and immediately get trashed, make sure you have something interesting and thoughtful to say or don’t bother.
Give them data or news that they can use—and then be flexible if they ask for something else. Remember: you’re wooing them. You want to be as reliable, helpful and flexible as possible to keep them coming back for more.
Wine and dine them
Your overtures shouldn’t just be a means to an end. Get to know the journalist as a person. Lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks—these are all great ways to learn more about what interests them outside of their normal beat. Perhaps you’ll have more in common than the client or story at hand.
Know when it’s time to get exclusive
Once you’ve established a relationship, offer them a jump on the news from time to time as a way to say, “I appreciate you.” And—when possible—maybe even offer them the occasional exclusive.
Show interest on social media
Follow, read and share the stories they post on Twitter and other social media sites. These are the ones they’re likely the most proud of, and by reposting their stories, you’re showing your support.
Stay in touch
Check in from time to time to congratulate them on a great piece or a new position. And if they write a story that syndicates to other places, send them a note to let them know you read it and loved it. Keeping in touch shows you care and that you’re not just another PR Casanova—here today and then gone as soon as your client’s story posts.