Back to the Basics: How to Secure Face Time with Journalists and Why it’s so Important

by Jacqueline Keidel Martinez

November 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm

At Off Madison Ave, we often talk about getting back to the basics. Like the fundamentals of baseball, mastering the basics means we can build complex techniques on a solid foundation.

In public relations, face time with reporters is one of those back-to-basics tactics that produces big results for clients. While marketing is increasingly digitally- and technology-driven, it’s more important than ever to have trusting relationships built on face-to-face interactions.

Recently, our PR team sat down for in-person meetings with a couple of local journalists to catch up, discuss the media landscape and pitch a few initial client story ideas. We typically like to schedule these meetings a few times throughout the year with different media contacts to keep in touch and discuss what’s new on both sides. These meetings usually result in a much-improved relationship where regular email communication is improved, phone calls are accepted and yes, media coverage is secured.

The value of face-to-face communication in a world disrupted constantly by email, texting and social media is more important than ever. So how can PR professionals take advantage of this basic, yet critical tactic? We’ve put together some best practices below.

  • Take advantage of positive interactions as a segue for a meeting

Did you just land a story with an editor or reporter? Use that positive momentum to suggest an in-person meeting to see where other client stories might be a fit.

  • Take advantage of interactions that you’ve struggled through

Did you promise an idea that you couldn’t deliver? Was a deadline missed? Use this challenge as an opportunity and request an in-person meeting to better understand how you can be an asset to the reporter in the future and help fill his/her content needs elsewhere.

  • Be respectful of time

Journalists are short on time. Between looming deadlines and shrinking newsrooms, their free time is limited. Offer to swing by their offices at their convenience or suggest a quick coffee meeting before the start of the work day. You’d be surprised how many people are open to these types of chats.

  • Believe in yourself

Let’s be honest: What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they have too much going on and just can’t get together. You can still continue to provide fantastic content and story ideas. I’ve found that “no” responses are few and far between. Truth is, great relationships between journalists and PR professionals are as important to the media as they are to us. We need each other to be successful. Approach every ask or invite with this mentality and you’ll start to build your own momentum.

You’ve landed the meeting. Now what?

  • Do your research

You probably haven’t been pitching a reporter without first doing your research, but it never hurts to brush up. Search his/her name and take a peek at social media. What are they tweeting about? Read through some of their most recent articles and review LinkedIn to familiarize yourself with their beat and writing style.

  • Come prepared

Not familiar with the lead time of the publication? Want to get clarification on the reporter’s preferred hours for pitching? This meeting is the perfect time to ask those questions so think of a few good ones in advance. Still, you’ll want to do more than ask a few questions at your meeting. Go to your meeting prepared with two to three story ideas about your company or clients that fit the journalist’s interests (following your research from the step above). This meeting should be as beneficial for them as it is for you, make sure their time with you is well-spent.

  • Follow up

If you promised visuals, contact information or an invitation, get that to the journalist by the date promised, or better yet, that day! Journalists rely on PR professionals for consistency and follow through, and being able to deliver on that information quickly helps them to see you and your clients as a resource for the long term.

Do you have any tips or tricks for securing meetings with journalists? Leave them in the comments below.

November 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Jacqueline Keidel Martinez

Armed with an attitude chiseled by growing up on Chicago’s West Side, Jacqueline is a high-energy PR pro. She loves when brands make magic with topical wit and enjoys developing media relations and content strategies. When she’s not PR’ing, catch her lifting weights, cooking, and talking to her pit bulls as if they’re human.