How can I build a good relationship with the media?

05/10/2016

It takes time to build any meaningful relationship, and the media are no exception. But the effort can be worthwhile because journalists are much more receptive to approaches from people they know – especially those who have been the source of good stories before.

A good place to start is with reporters who may have a particular reason to be interested in you and what you have to say – for example, a business correspondent or a writer from a specialist trade magazine.

There is no harm making a direct approach and possibly even offering to buy coffee or lunch, so you can find out what they’re looking for. Journalism thrives on good contacts, so reporters will welcome opportunities to establish new ones.

Ultimately, however, the strength of the relationship will depend on how useful you can prove to be – by offering interesting stories of your own, or by providing punchy comments in response to stories from elsewhere.

It helps to be topical, by being aware of what is already in the news which may be relevant to your sphere of expertise. If this is done well, after a while the journalist will start coming to you for quotes, providing publicity for very little effort.

It’s also important to be savvy. Compile a list of useful media contacts, keep it up to date and use it to stay on their radar. Take the trouble to understand that different media have different priorities and ways of working – including deadlines.

Finally, if a journalist contacts you, always make the effort to be available; otherwise that contact may be the last.