A few weeks ago, we published a blog post about how PR people can improve their working relationships with journalists…from the perspective of a journalist and editor. And that post got us thinking: Surely PR people (or communications people, as they may preferred to be called) have their own thoughts on how to improve working relationships with journalists. So we decided to ask them!
We picked up the phone and called Goodman Media, Purch’s external communications agency, and lucky for us, Goodman Media’s executive director, Amy Jaick, had time for a chat. “What’s your advice to journalists for making the most of their relationships with communications folks?” we asked Amy. Here’s what she had to say.
1. Ask for more. Journalists are now expected to share stories in many ways — not just through articles. Communications experts know this and can often provide resources, like infographics or social media strategy tips, which help journalists deliver their message in a novel way. So go ahead and ask your PR contact for more than just a source!
2. Be willing to compromise. Journalists often want to get an expert source on the phone right away to grab a quote for a story, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Communications pros appreciate it when journalists are willing to explore a client’s expertise outside of direct conversations and will gladly point journalists toward published articles that their clients have written or talks they’ve given that fit into the story being told.
3. Learn to listen. Good communications people are experts on the broad trends occurring in the industries they represent. Sometimes, when journalists contact them for assistance with a story, they may have input on those trends or news that can help make a story even more impactful. Be open to hearing what they have to say, and trust that they’re up to date on the topic you’re covering.
4. Busy? Build a relationship anyway. Just as a journalist’s role has expanded to include tasks like social media promotion and video explainers, so too has a communications person’s job grown to include delivering clients’ social media strategies and creative assets. The hustle and bustle of these jobs can make it tempting to neglect non-urgent emails or catch-up calls, but both journalists and PR folks need to stay in touch precisely because they’re so busy.
5. Fix your mistakes. Sometimes, journalists get things wrong. If a PR contact reaches out to you after an article is published and asks for reasonable edits — fix an incorrect fact, correct the spelling of a name, put a quote in context — please take the time to consider his or her request and to fix what needs fixing.
6. Help us help you. Part of a PR person’s job is increasing the reach of articles (or other media) in which a client is mentioned as much as possible — either on social platforms or through other channels. Journalists also want to increase the reach of their articles. So why not collaborate to reach as wide of an audience as possible? Talk to your PR contact about a social media strategy for the piece you’re writing. They’ll almost certainly be interested in working together to make big things happen.