When it comes to media relations, it’s not all about the ink that hits the web or paper. It starts much deeper by cultivating relationships between clients and reporters and maintaining that relationship over time that will in turn drive consistent results. Given the speed at which the media moves, it’s easy for relationships with reporters to become routine and transactional. Developing human relationships with journalists can certainly go a long way towards building the trust and rapport necessary for clients to be regarded as a go-to source for information.

It’s good for company executives and other spokespeople to touch base with reporters every once in a while to see where they may be able to insert their voice. It can sometimes be a difficult conversation to have when the reporter didn’t include you in their story after an invested conversation, but that doesn’t mean it was time wasted. It is important to be in the mix and speaking with the media to keep you and your thought leadership top of mind even when it may not provide immediate results. Connecting with reporters on a regular basis can feed story ideas and reporters will almost always return to you when the time is right. Taking reporters out for lunch or coffee can help in gaining a wealth of knowledge in an informal atmosphere where you can learn more about one another in a way that is less constricted or outlined.

Adopting the mindset that you are here to serve the journalist, and not the other way around, places you in good standing for cultivating better relationships. Ask yourself how can you, as a valued and expert source, help in offering a compelling story?

In the end, it’s important to view relationships with the media as a partnership. The media provides us with another way to reach decision makers and the public. When reporters recognize you as a valuable source for stories and commentary, they are more likely to consider your suggestions and views. As the saying goes, relationships are a marathon not a sprint.

-Shannon Thornton

Image via Flickr account akunamatata