As a PR professional, media contacts are arguably your most important asset. Building and growing your connections is a main priority because the bigger and stronger your media contact list is the better you will be at your job. There are some simple things you can do in order to make sure you have the best media list for your clients’ industries.
Constantly do research on who is writing what and at which publications. Stay informed and up to date on who the writers and editors are that you could pitch to get your clients in the news. We did a post previously about the importance of research in general, which explains more about this.
When you find new contacts that you don’t already have a connection with, follow them on twitter and begin to keep up with what they cover on a daily basis. Be sure to check their articles regularly to get a feel for what they like and dislike, what they cover, their writing style, etc.
Send an introductory email that introduces you and your business as well as a brief introduction to some of your clients or interesting new things they have going on that you think will interest the writer. Let them know that you are around to be a resource for them and would love to be on their contact list of PR people that they reach out to when they have openings for news or questions about an industry you work with. It can be nice to reach out just to say hi even when you don’t have an actual pitch for them at the moment because they see that you really want to be a resource and not just contact them when you need something.
Once you have interacted with a writer a couple of times it can be helpful to invite them for a face-to-face meeting. This also is a good idea if there is a brand new writer or a writer who would be a perfect contact for you but doesn’t seem to use your clients in their pieces. Putting a face to a name can be immensely helpful in growing a relationship with a contact, especially for the writer, who gets pitches from hundreds of faceless email addresses every day. Sharing a coffee or lunch with someone face to face can really boost your relationship to the next level and make them more likely to remember you and pay attention to your pitches later on since they will seem more personal. It’s also a great time to be able to update them on a bunch of things at once that you have coming up for clients in the next few weeks.
Perhaps most importantly, keep up the contact even when you don’t have anything immediate to pitch. If you only reach out to your contact when you need something from them it can seem a bit one sided. Additionally, you may go months at a time in between having an applicable pitch, which is a long time for them to remember you, especially at the beginning of a professional relationship. Try to reach out more often, while still being conscious of how busy they are. Respond to a tweet they sent about something interesting, or send a check-in email to see if they are working on anything you could potentially help contribute to in some way. Keep interested in what they are working on even when it doesn’t directly involve you, like by sending a quick ‘great job!’ email about an article of theirs that you particularly enjoy one day.
Your contact list is one of your most important tools as a PR professional. Your relationships with writers and editors are one of the main things that people hire you for, because they know it means you are more likely to get coverage for them. Lots of people will think that they can just do the PR for their business themselves because they think they can write a press release and send an email. But having strong media connections and writers that you know will trust your suggestions and opinions of worthwhile content are what bring results. Building and strengthening these relationships constantly is one of the best things you can do for your PR business.