How to become a media source—and not someone who just pitches

Building relationships with journalists so they call you is key. The author explains how she has made it happen through ‘strategic small talk.’

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Although creative ideas and strategic planning are priorities at the agency where I work, establishing authentic relationships with journalists is the key to our media relations success. As opposed to “selling” our clients, we position them as valuable source to journalists.

How do we do that? Strategic small talk.

I recently heard from Jason Daley, a writer I worked with for a feature in Entrepreneur magazine, who was working on an upcoming story and needed a quote from a solid source. He knew I could help.

The best part of the conversation was when he told me about his upcoming story in the September 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. He wrote a full-page feature story about a franchise bakery and restaurant that I told him about eight months ago. The company is not my client, and I have no vested interest. I brought it up on a whim in a 30 minute rant about franchises, a sick dog, and travel to Jamaica. Now, this business has a full page feature in Entrepreneur, I have become a credible source for a writer, and the agency secured an introduction to a potential client.

The moral of the story: Sometimes small talk can lead to big results, including feature stories in magazines, a strong media contact, and a future client.

Here’s how you can help build previously established media relationships:

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