Reporters are People, Too

As all public relations practitioners know, a strong communications program includes a number of elements: speaking Attractive professional male news reporter wearing grey suit holding microphone, talking to camera from urban setting.

program, award submissions, contributed content/thought leadership and more recently, social media activity. However, as important as all these elements are, at the core of every PR program still remains the gold standard: media relations.

One of our primary roles as PR practitioners is to build strong relationships with the media by serving as a valuable resource for story ideas, and we do this by responding to requests for commentary in a timely manner and being a reliable liaison between the reporter and the client.

Starting with this post, Above the Fold will be your monthly go-to resource for (1) quick tips on how to build stronger relationships with the media, and (2) the latest media moves to understand which of our favorite reporters have changed email addresses and have new 401K providers (unless of course they’re a freelancer). Yours truly will be the messenger of this gold mine of information – while still maintaining his part-time gig of dropping the occasional B&O Street Insight.

This month’s tip: Reporters are people too.

Most reporters are chained to their desks writing stories and don’t have time to blink, let alone get out of the office for some fresh air. That said, there are some reporters who will occasionally make time for a break if the opportunity presents itself. Ask a reporter out for coffee, a drink, or a meal – you’d be surprised as to their response. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about which topics and story angles interest them the most – and they get a free lunch. What reporter wouldn’t want that?

Just as reporters go the extra mile to mine sources for their stories, PR professionals should do the same to find a way to relate to the reporters we deal with on a daily basis. Is the reporter a San Francisco Giants fan, just like I am? Door opened. Did they just tweet about how much they enjoyed a meal at a restaurant I ate at a few weeks ago? Another door opened. At the end of the day, while PR professionals have had plenty of instances in which reporters have chased us off the phone and we can oftentimes view them as a means to an end, it’s imperative for us to keep in mind that they’re people, too. So if we treat them that way, some positive results will surely follow.

Neil Torres