Journalists should be your friends!

My last blog post about gaining media coverage certainly seemed to hit the spot with many readers. If some media coverage would help your business then making ‘friends’ with some journalists will surely help and it’s not as difficult as you might think.

Yesterday I had a call from a journalist who was working on a piece about late payments and was looking for some case studies. She had been given my name by the editor of the publication that had featured my latest press release. I met that editor at a Tweetup ( a meeting in a pub for locals who are active on Twitter) and have kept in touch via Twitter and other events. Clearly I have now established in her mind that I am well connected in the small business world. Great! Just what I wanted.

I chatted to the journalist about her piece, the publication she was writing for and what she needed help with. I gave her the name of someone who I thought could help and agreed to send an email to some of my connections. An hour later I sent her contact details for another person who is a friend of someone I emailed.

There is no immediate gain for me from this interaction but this journalist is very grateful for the help I have given her and has promised to call me when she has a piece that I could feature in. She is a freelance journalist who writes for all manner of publications including the national press and in house and specialist publications. I’m now thinking of topics that she could pitch to editors which I could feature in. Win win!

It is worth remembering that journalists are usually paid by the number of words they write rather than by the hour. Anything you can do to save them time will increase their hourly rate. Journalists usually work to very tight deadlines and many of them are having to produce far more copy than they did a few years ago. Budgets, even for the nationals, are very tight indeed so editors will drive a very hard bargain with their freelancers. All of this represents an opportunity for you if you can make a journalist’s life easier. So to summarise:

  • Find journalists working in your field. Look out for freelancers (there are probably more freelancers than staff journalists these days). Connect with them.
  • Follow journalists on Twitter and respond to their pleas for help or re-tweet those requests. (Journalism courses now teach aspiring hacks to use Twitter to generate stories.)
  • Be as generous and helpful as you can even if there is no immediate payback.
  • Send your news releases to freelancers as well as your target publications, you never know what they are working on at the time. However, don’t send to a freelancer who is specialist in another field.
  • Invite journalists to an event, that can include inviting them to your networking group if you think it might be useful to them.
  • Thank anyone who features you.

Good luck! I’d love to hear your stories. How have you helped a journalist? What stories have you featured in? Post your comment here.

 

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