18 easy-breezy ideas for building a relationship with a journalist

Invite that reporter or blogger out for lunch or coffee, then refer to this list on how to prepare for, and conduct yourself during, the meet-up.


Dying to get to know the reporter who covers your industry, or the popular blogger you read every time he or she posts?

Many people are intimidated by the media—mainstream and otherwise—and wouldn’t think of approaching them. Smart PR pros, on the other hand, aren’t afraid to make the first move. Once reporters and bloggers know you care, they will care about what you know—and maybe even write about your client or company.

Here’s a handy list of how to prepare for, and conduct yourself during, a meeting with a member of the Fourth Estate.

First, invite the person for lunch or coffee. The location doesn’t have to be fancy. Then:

1. Become familiar with his or her stories so you can discuss them.

2. Bring a media kit or background information they might find interesting.

3. Explain new trends you are seeing in your industry.

4. Offer yourself as a resource for topics in which you are an expert.

5. Ask about other subjects they cover, or stories they are working on.

6. Don’t talk off the record. (See: “The dangerous hidden secrets of print and broadcast reporters.”)

7. Ask about the reporter’s personal interests, family, hobbies, etc.

8. Talk about your favorite blogs and Twitter feeds.

9. Suggest story ideas. But never ask them to write a story about you. (See: “How to Identify Story Ideas About Your Company or Organization.”)

10. If they write about you, send a thank-you note—never a gift.

11. Offer your home telephone number and cell phone number. Invite them to call you day or night.

12. Pass along the names of two or three other people you know who would make good contacts.

13. Ask, “How else can I help you?”

14. Exchange business cards.

15. Don’t grab the check. Either split it, or let them pay for your meal if they offer.

16. Mail (yes, mail) a thank-you note within 24 hours.

17. Keep in touch regularly. Offer feedback and comments on the person’s stories or blog posts. Email helpful articles about his or her areas of expertise or hobbies. Share news tips and story ideas.

18. Have lunch again in four to six months.

In the meantime, ask yourself, “Who else can I meet for lunch?”

Publicity expert Joan Stewart the author of four ebooks on publicity and is quoted in more than 60 books on marketing, public relations and small business. You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

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