All the news that’s fit to pitch
Have you ever read an article or watched a news program and wondered how certain company spokespeople are selected to present their expert opinion on a subject? Have you ever thought, “I could certainly weigh in on that topic, and provide even more relevant points?”
Nine times out of ten, the way journalists locate sources for stories is through existing relationships: somebody knows somebody who works in that industry and could be a great interview for a story.
But how do you develop a relationship if you’ve never met or worked with the journalist before?
As Kim mentioned in her blog post yesterday, a great way to NOT build a relationship with a journalist – or anyone for that matter – is to spam them incessantly with information completely irrelevant to the beat they cover. But rather than give you a whole list of what not to-do’s, I’m going to spend a few minutes today sharing some tips on how you can more effectively build a relationship with a journalist, and establish your clients (and yourself) as a trusted industry resource.
1. Read (or watch) what a journalist covers.
We work with Fortune 500 companies in the architecture and commercial design industry. We make it a point to read every article, every blog post, every tweet that comes out of the media covering that sector. We get to know their writing style and whether or not they tend to use outside sources in their stories.
2. Be an industry expert yourself.
It’s not enough to just know the news you’re trying to share at any given point and time. You need to understand the key drivers affecting your client’s (or your company’s) business. What is the competition doing? How are industry sales? What are the trends? Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings with people within the industry who know these things (if you don’t already) so you can stay 24/7 current on what’s going on.
3. It’s all about the timing.
Following up to point #2, because you’ll know everything that’s affecting the industry you serve, you’ll be able to spot a newsworthy opportunity from a mile away.
Scenario: you’re on the phone with a journalist covering your industry, pitching an idea for a story based on a new product announcement your company is launching. The journalist isn’t interested in that particular angle.
“Okay,” you say, “what other stories are you working on right now?” The journalist shares he’s working on a piece where he’s trying to identify technology trends companies in the architecture industry are investing in right now.
This sparks an idea.
You say, “you know, I was just talking with Joe Smith, analyst with (fictional company name) the other day, and he pointed out some new technology resources he’s recommending for his company in 2013. Would you be interested in speaking with him? He’s a great interview and has 20 years of industry experience to back him up.”
“YES!,” says the journalist, “can I speak with him today? I’m on a tight deadline.”
“Absolutely, I’ll set it up for you right now.”
By understanding the industry, and looking beyond just the original purpose of the call, you’re able to secure an interview for your spokesperson a well-regarded industry publication. You’ve also hopefully established the start of a relationship with a journalist that will serve both of you well over the course of your work together.
And that, as we say, is a “home run.”