At Sprocket, we’re all about authenticity. That means we sometimes curse in public (or here, on the internet) and that we often let our weirdness out in the open. HEY WORLD. WE’RE HERE AND WE’RE WEIRD AF.
It all underpins our efforts to be ourselves—skills we’ve learned in our years of work in PR and media relations. Because our industry, like so many industries, is built on relationships and trust. And you don’t build trust by sending a blanket email to 30 of your closest email contacts.
So how do you build it? Read on.
- Don’t be a robot. Relating to other humans in a real, authentic way is how relationships are built, even when you’re working to build those relationships on behalf of your PR agency. Yeah, you probably aren’t going to interact with a professional contact in the same way you would with your friends. But you can still be yourself. Because authenticity resonates with people. And people can see BS and fakery from a mile away.
- Use your manners. First off, blanket emails don’t work. And they’re rude. So don’t send those weird BCC emails that everyone knows went out to 50 other people. Instead, introduce yourself in an email, or remind them who you are — “Hi, it’s Kate, we met at the Met Gala last week—I was following the goddess SZA down the red carpet.” Instead of straight up just asking for something from this reporter/influencer/person about town, offer to buy them coffee or somehow offer your services — a little bit of quid pro quo can make a difference (and nobody likes to feel like a person is just taking, taking, taking from them). And, after said coffee, send a Thank You text or email. Your mama would be so proud.
- Be cognizant of reporters’ and influencers’ time. No newsroom has time to wade through a wordy and irrelevant press release. Let’s make a pact: we’re only going to pitch stuff that’s genuinely interesting or newsworthy, or we’re not going to pitch it at all. If our client doesn’t have very much of interest going on, then the onus is on us to think creatively about events, executions, or diverse story angles that are genuinely interesting to reporters, editors, and their audiences. Only pitching worthwhile stories is a huge way to build goodwill with reporters.
- Share their stuff. Show them that you’re actually listening to and reading what they’re putting out in the world. Follow them on social, comment on their work, and share it with your own networks. Showing support for a reporter’s work helps with their visibility and shows that you’re doing your homework when it comes time for you to draft your pitch — and it shows that you actually do have a handle on their beat.
What tips do you have for building media relationships? (More broad relationship advice accepted, too!)
Related Posts: Pitching top-tier media: What not to do