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From Connections to Coverage: 5 Tips for Building Authentic Media Relationships

Securing positive media coverage for our clients remains one of our most important services. An ongoing stream of positive coverage is essential to building brand equity and can be an important business development solution by generating top-of-funnel interest and excitement in a client’s product or service.

However, many prospective clients think of media relations as distributing press releases and blasting generic email pitches to the media. And yes, we do distribute press releases, but we do not blast email pitches to huge, unfiltered media lists. Some also consider media relations a transaction: we send out a release, the editor writes. 

Pitching story ideas to media is one facet of media relations, but not the most important component. Most important is building relationships and engagement, which requires time and skill. Why does this matter? The average reporter receives 200-300 emails per day and many are expected to produce 5-7 stories per week. When skimming their inbox and deciding which emails to answer, they will respond to people who:

1. They Recognize

When editors or journalists encounter an email or message from someone they recognize, it triggers a sense of familiarity. Recognition can be built over time by consistently contributing to their coverage area or industry. Being a regular presence in their professional life through relevant and helpful interactions is the foundation of this recognition.

2. Have Brought Interesting, On-Target Ideas in the Past

Reporters are more inclined to engage with individuals or organizations that have previously provided them with interesting, on-target story ideas. This highlights the importance of not only sending out pitches but ensuring that those pitches are well-researched, relevant to the publication or beat and aligned with the editor’s interests or focus.

3. They Trust, Who Provide Accurate Information 

Trust is a priceless commodity in media relations. Editors rely on trustworthy sources for accurate information and reliable insights. To gain and maintain this trust, it’s essential to consistently deliver on promises, provide well-substantiated data and be transparent in all communications.

4. They Know Help Them Do Their Jobs

Journalists appreciate PR pros who help them fulfill their roles more effectively. This assistance can take various forms, such as providing access to expert sources for interviews, offering unique perspectives on current events, or supplying well-prepared press materials. Demonstrating a clear understanding of how your contributions align with their editorial needs is a significant advantage.

5. Don’t Waste Their Time

Time is a precious resource for editors and journalists, given their busy schedules and pressing deadlines. Individuals or organizations that respect their time by sending concise, well-structured pitches, responding promptly and being mindful of their work pressures are more likely to stand out. Avoiding unnecessary follow-ups and presenting information in a clear, organized manner demonstrates professionalism and consideration for their schedules.

The UPRAISE team takes several approaches to building and nurturing these relationships. We have honed these practices over the 20 years we’ve been in business and they pay off for our clients every day. 

We stay in touch with our media contacts on an ongoing basis: we might comment on an article they’ve just written; we might offer stats from a relevant Gartner report we found; we might highlight an article a competitive reporter wrote and point out an angle our contact might consider for the future. We continuously track their social channels for news about them as people and try to build connections when possible. This might be rooting for the same sports team, attending the same university, or loving a particular food, but the connection has to be authentic. This is not a “fake it until you make it” proposition.

When we have story ideas to pitch, we begin by ensuring the idea fits their coverage area. We give them as much information as possible to make it easy for them to write. In addition to the story angle and the subject expertise our client can provide, we offer stats, photos, video, independent experts and other information to support the story. We provide all the “dots,” so the reporter simply has to connect them. 

And there is an art to developing an effective pitch. The subject line should position the client as a resource: Expert in AI for Healthcare Available to Discuss Privacy versus simply pointing out an issue: AI Creates Privacy Issues in Healthcare Applications. And while content can vary, it’s often a good idea to begin with a stat or statement that will grab the editor’s attention and make them want to read more. Pitches shouldn’t be more than 3-5 sentences and should be easily skimmable or they will move on. 

We continue to focus on relationships when preparing our client for the interview. We will find commonality between the editor and our expert, which could include coverage the editor might have written on a company when that company employed our expert. 

Once the coverage appears, we thank the journalist and use the thank you email to bridge future contact. This might be letting them know the company will have an announcement in the next 1-2 months, inviting them to meet with us at a trade show or to float another story idea. 

Building relationships takes time and patience; some journalists simply aren’t interested, but our investment yields dividends for years for those who engage. Do you have questions about how to build long-term relationships? Do you still believe blasting releases and expecting results is an effective strategy? Let’s talk.


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