The Importance of Developing and Maintaining Media Relationships

Media relationships aren’t the end all, be all, of public relations. If you approach reporters with a good pitch –one that is appropriate for their beat, includes a strong point of view and demonstrates the value your client can provide them – you will get results. That’s not to say, though, that PR professionals shouldn’t prioritize cultivating media relationships. Here are two examples (of many) that show how Team Ditto’s media relationships benefitted clients:

  • We pitched a story on our client’s unique corporate culture to a reporter at a top-tier business publication, who ended up not only writing two articles about that client, but also articles about two other clients as well. Perhaps even more importantly, she’s become a resource we can bounce ideas off of and ask for honest feedback on pitches. Because we’ve demonstrated the value we can offer her by providing interesting stories and knowledgeable clients, she’s willing to reciprocate by letting us pick her brain from time to time.
  • We pitched another client as a resource on the student debt crisis to a reporter at a top consumer news publication. Once she interviewed our client a few times, she came to view him as a valuable resource and us as reliable contacts that can provide the insights she needs for a story quickly. Now, she reaches out to us proactively when she’s working on a story our client would be a good fit for.

PR professionals should cultivate their relationships with reporters the same way you’d cultivate any professional relationship: by keeping up-to-date on what they’re working on, congratulating them for their successes and being able to provide something of value that helps them with their careers. At Ditto, we each have a list of reporters, producers and editors whose work we follow closely, letting them know when we think they’ve done something especially great and checking in periodically to see if we (and our clients) can help with any stories they’re writing.

For many PR pros, developing and maintaining reporters comes naturally. We got into this businesses because we’re passionate about telling interesting stories, and so did journalists. Building media relationships doesn’t feel like a chore – quite the opposite. It’s one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of our jobs.

It’s important to state that cultivating media relationships isn’t transactional. For every reporter who’s covered our clients multiple times, there are scores more who frequently tell respond to our pitches (and even tell us how much they like them!) but who haven’t actually used them. Some of them will cover our clients someday; some won’t, and that’s okay. With most reporters inundated with hundreds – if not thousands – of pitches every day, being able to cut through the noise, elicit thoughtful responses from reporters and develop relationships over time is an indication to PR pros that they’re doing their jobs right.