Think Like a Journalist
Author: Alisha Alvarez
December 04, 2018
Here’s one simple trick to get a journalist’s attention: think like a journalist.
Relationships are key when it comes to placing an article in the media. While cold calls can sometimes succeed, pitching a story works like everything else in business. When someone knows you, they’ll open your emails and start a dialogue.
Having a relationship with a journalist can mean the difference between a reporter who passes on your story and one who works with you until the story fits. The question is, how do you build that kind of relationship?
By helping that reporter out.
Breaking news is a race against the clock
One of the hardest parts of a reporter’s job is covering breaking news.
Especially in this era of online publishing, when a story hits the “front pages,” absolutely everyone scrambles to keep up. Every journalist on that beat springs into action against a real-time deadline. They will have very little time to get relevant quotes, especially when everyone else is calling the same handful of subject matter experts.
You, as a communications professional with a network of clients at the top of their fields, are ideally positioned to help with that.
This would be the best time to email the journalists on your media list. If you can offer an expert source ready to comment or a ready-to-use quote from an expert, you may save a reporter hours of time and reduce stress. It’s a great way to help a journalist out and, in doing so, build a valuable relationship.
Thinking like journalists
Every reporter follows the news cycle 24/7. In addition to reporting their own stories, they’re following the headlines and looking for new angles on current news. This is a huge part of a reporter’s day-to-day responsibilities.
So, you should do that, too–not only to know about current events, which is important as a publicist, but also so you can offer clients insight and expertise. Monitor the news, and, when a big story breaks, be the first one to reach out to your media contacts with an offer to help.
If news breaks of account hacks at a bank, for example, do you have any banking or fintech clients who can shed some light on how to avoid these hacks? If there’s a natural disaster, perhaps you have a travel industry client who can talk about personal preparedness while on vacation. Or maybe you have a wireless client who can talk about maintaining connectivity during times of severe weather or crisis.
Regardless, as I said before, what journalists often need is a quote. While it will take some legwork on your end, getting them that quote can make a tough day a whole lot easier.
And any good reporter is ready to help out someone who once helped them.