I spend most of my time on the phone with magazine editors and TV producers securing coverage for my clients. But some of the most valuable conversations come from freelancers who are feeding their dogs and walking from one subway station to the next.
Last week, for example, I spent 30 minutes on the phone with a writer who contributes to Entrepreneur
. We left the conversation with several stories booked, and I will likely have a cocktail with him the next time I’m on his turf.
Developing relationships with freelancers is time well spent if you want to secure top-tier placements and, every now and then, a good friend.
Here are several things to keep in mind.
1. Remember, will write for food.
A good story idea is bread and butter for a freelancer. The more enterprising, exclusive stories they have to pitch to editors, the more ink and income they receive. Not only does taking your pitch to a freelancer first earn you points with valuable writers, but also it helps to establish the writer’s relationships with editors—adding more income down the line.
2. Stay connected.
The key to establishing great relationships is consistent communication. Regular phone calls, emails, and tweets help keep the conversation going. Media relations professionals should check in to learn which assignments writers have in their pipelines and learn their needs. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with freelancers and to stay up to speed on the outlets for which they write.
3. Walk the line.
But be careful: The worst thing to do is badger and annoy a freelancer. If he or she prefers email pitches to phone calls, please adhere. Make sure the relationship status is mutual. If you sent a freelancer an email once upon a time, you probably shouldn’t be friends on Facebook.
4. Be the resource.
At The Abbi Agency, we live by this mantra: “The writer is your client.” Whether sources, stats, or story ideas, there is nothing a freelancer loves more than a good resource. Sending thoughtful, well-researched information to writers will put you at the top of their rolodex and soon they will be coming to you for stories.
5. Inquire about face-to-face meetings.
Freelancers work from home, in coffee shops, and shared workspaces. Because of this, they are usually more open to taking desk side visits and lunch meetings. Meeting in person helps to create a more authentic relationship. You’ll find that your relationship becomes so genuine you won’t talk about work at all.
6. Come to the meeting with more than one pitch.
During our spring media tour in New York, a colleague and I had South Indian food with a writer who freelanced for The New York Times
, The New Yorker
, and Conde Naste Traveler
. We thought we were going into the meeting with one story, but we ended up leaving with three. Freelancers are great ways to pitch multiple clients to multiple outlets in just one midday lunch break.
A seasoned freelancer has established relationships with multiple publications and editors. They pitch stories all the time so they know which story would be the best fit for a particular outlet.
Your chances of getting your pitch through to editors are multiplied when a freelancer is pitching it for you.
Krystal Tingle is the freelancer relations expert and senior account
executive at The Abbi Agency. She will travel anywhere for good food and a
meeting with a freelancer. Follow her @krystaltingle. A version of this
story first appeared on The Abbi Agency Blog. Follow The Abbi Agency on Twitter @TheAbbiAgency.