Both of my parents were journalists when I was growing up, so when I told them I was going to study public relations in college, they both cringed. For a long time, journalists have thought of public relations professionals as adversaries. They may see us as nuisances at best and an insidious way for companies to sneak cleverly concealed advertisements into the news at worst.
But the worlds of news and PR are changing rapidly. Experts predict that 2022 will be a big year for collaboration between PR pros and those working in the news media. After all, with shrinking newsrooms, journalists have had to rely on outside resources to fill an ever-increasing demand for content. We at Comprise have certainly seen this happen with more frequency, year over year. In the modern world of communications, public relations practitioners and journalists should be open to collaboration to ensure important, newsworthy stories are being shared with the public.
Generating Relationships Between Public Relations and Journalists
To achieve a mutually beneficial relationship, those of us in public relations need to become reliable resources and even problem-solvers for reporters. For example, we can come to the table quickly with story ideas to help fill some open space in a magazine. To do this, we need to understand both why our clients are newsworthy and how a client’s expertise or data can help develop or advance a story.
We should also “up” our communication game. Relationships are not built on generic, “copy and paste” emails. Customized messages demonstrate to journalists we know who they are and the topics they cover — and that we have something of value to offer. This requires in-depth research on specific reporters, careful planning and keeping abreast of the news of the industry with which one works.
Once you have fostered a good, mutually beneficial relationship, don’t screw it up! Journalists do incredibly important work, and nothing can ruin a relationship with members of the news media more quickly than being inconsistent, late (causing the journalist to miss deadlines) or wasting their time with useless information. It is our responsibility to share a client’s news quickly, in a detailed manner, while being honest and responsive to any questions or requests.
Focusing on these partnerships is beneficial in many ways. We become assets to journalists and add value for our clients. For journalists, we become a wealth of information about niche topics and a connection to experts in specific fields for interviews. For clients, we make their highly technical topics accessible to a broad audience and enticing to news media. In the tech space, this isn’t always easy. That’s why we like to say we do the “hard stuff” at Comprise. Let us know how we can leverage our reporter relationships to help tell your story!