18 Jun How to Make Contact with Journalists
It’s interesting that many people I meet perceive journalists to be a race of scary people, or at least very busy people, and the thought of contacting them just feels nerve wracking at the least.
I can understand this, especially if you haven’t had any dealings with the press before. But it is important to remember that journalists, editors and even those people who work in TV and radio are just ordinary people, like you and me, doing a job. And part of their job is to come up with new ideas, angles and themes, so by getting in touch you just might be helping them.
But there are varying levels of comfort when it comes to getting in touch with the press, so I’d like to offer you some solutions, whatever level you may be at.
For the very new and nervous
If you would rather walk down the road wearing nothing but a pair of wellies and your dressing gown than pick up the phone and speak to a journalist then it is possible to get noticed by mail and email alone.
What you need to remember is that almost everyone else is doing the same. I often tell the story of meeting a journalist from Cosmo who told me that she has over 2000 emails in her inbox she hasn’t even got around to opening yet. Yes, hasn’t even opened!
So getting your email read is the first hurdle. My tips for that?
- A cracking subject line
- Everything in the email, no attachments or PDFs as you can’t be sure they will open them
- Get your message out as soon as possible. You have no leeway to wander.
- Make sure you get the email address right in the first place (and this might well involve some fact finding with reception)
Using snail mail might be another way to stand out against all the noise, after all less people are doing that nowadays, although with the cost of a first class stamp it is not a cheap option if you are doing a mass mailout. If you do opt for the old fashioned approach:
Make sure what you send is very visual
- But please no glitter that explodes over their desk and other such gimmicks, they hate that
- Keep the envelope hand written and mysterious – not looking like a circular
- Remember your brand – nice paper, logo, colour printing. In short, everything you can do to look good.
If you are naturally a bit flirty
Then social media could be the way to go (and don’t mean for a date). A bit of banter on Twitter often works well, and Twitter does seem to be the chosen way of communication for journalists at the moment. Who needs a press release when you can log into Tweet Deck and see what’s trending?
So, my tips for making press pals on Twitter are…
Get to know who writes for what publication
- See if they are on Twitter
- If they are, follow them
- Create your own (locked) list of journalists so you don’t have to spend hours trawling through your Twitter feed to find them
- Even better, get their Tweets sent to your mobile
- When you have something to say, or have seen something they’ve published and want to comment, jump in and say it
If you are BRAVE
Nothing beats picking up the phone to speak to a journalist. Done well, things will happen faster, and the press will remember who you are and come to you when the time is right.
But please don’t phone just to ask if they have read your release. You should always have something up your sleeve, a point to your call. This could be:
Do they want to come or send someone along to an event you are running?
- Would they like a sample to review?
- Would they like to send someone along for a sample session/some coaching
- Would they like you to write an article about X?
Don’t look upon it as selling in you or your business, look at it as a chance to build a relationship. Make notes as you go, and if they say no, take the opportunity to ask them what they are looking for, so next time you speak you have something they want.