With more journalists heading down the freelance path, PR professionals and companies need to update their contact lists and navigate new relationships. Building a relationship with journalists and media professionals is essential for businesses to get the word out there about their brand. Even so, it is crucial to personalize your approach to each journalist, so that you connect with them. Building a relationship with a freelance journalist can take a bit of time and effort, but it is worth it in the long run. After all, these people could be an invaluable addition to any address book. This is because they tend to be more flexible, pitch different publications frequently, and constantly develop their network. They are also available to take on all types of projects that they might not have been able to handle if they were working at a publication.
Before diving into how to build better relationships with journalists and freelancers, you need to understand what a typical day in their lives looks like. When it comes to trying to develop a relationship, timing is everything. Journalists are always keeping an eye on global events, looking for big announcements and major news stories, and checking newswires and social media. They also spend a lot of time attending editorial meetings and participating in press briefings, events and conferences. As they do all this, they’re also juggling any number of articles at the same time. Journalists can work for magazines, newspapers, TV, and radio. They can work full or part-time and are paid regularly, just like any other employee. Moreover, they usually work a fixed amount of hours from the publication’s offices and have a specific beat that they cover.
Freelance journalists are the same except in one respect, they are self-employed and do not work for only one publication. They get many many benefits to freelance work, including choosing whom they work for, what they write about, how often they write, where they work from, and when they write. Working as a freelance journalist has always been popular with people who want to write for a living. In fact, the number of people choosing to work as freelance writers has increased dramatically in recent years.
With today’s media extending out into websites and social media, skilled journalists are in high demand. A few years ago, writers would have been cooped up in an office, preoccupied with the next issue of their newspaper or magazine. Journalists no longer need to come into the office to write; they may do so at any time using their computers or mobile phones, sending text and images back to the office. Journalists must now consider the digital realm as well, not only in terms of how their article will appear online but also in the way they disseminate their stories.
Tips for building a better relationship with journalists and freelancers
1) Engage with their content
When you’re trying to connect with journalists, the first thing you need to do is get to know the media professionals you want to build relationships with by engaging with their content. You should start by commenting on the articles that these journalists write. Explain what you like about the article and share any knowledge or insights on the topic. To create a professional connection, you need to include the company’s actual company name or name you’re using to represent the company. This way journalists can search for you and start developing a relationship with you instantly.
Given that many people use social media, any journalist and media professional worth their salt will use those platforms to get their work out there. You should engage with these professionals on social media by sharing or commenting on their posts. Moreover, you can continue a conversation with a journalist by sharing content that you think they would find interesting.
In addition, you need to create content that will capture the attention of media professionals, whether it is a concise and creative email pitch or a professionally written press release. If you need help with this, PR agencies like Pressfarm can create quality content for your brand.
By partnering with a team of PR specialists, expert writers and certified designers, you can make a splash in your industry with a memorable brand image. Both startups and established companies turn to Pressfarm for professional press releases, engaging guest posts and eye-catching media kits. With all of this content, you can capture media attention and inspire your target audience.
In addition to helping you create quality content, the team at Pressfarm is skilled at distributing content widely. By submitting your content to the right media outlets and startup directories, we can put your brand in front of the right eyes. Our distribution strategy is designed to boost your online visibility and help you feature in relevant search results across different search engines.
Finally, as a client, you get custom media lists as well as access to a media database of 1 million+ contacts. With these contacts, you can collaborate with the best journalists, bloggers and influencers in your industry. Collaborating with these media professionals will help you share your brand story widely for a long time.
With one of Pressfarm’s PR packages, you can put your brand in front of the right people when it matters most.
2) Nurture every single reply
You should go into every journalistic relationship knowing that media coverage is not guaranteed. Whether you get a positive or negative reply, it is essential to continue building a relationship. Furthermore, whenever a journalist accepts a pitch or writes up a press release that you send, you should send them a thank you email and comment on what you liked about the piece. Additionally, you should mention that you are happy to offer more insight on the topic in the future.
On the other hand, receiving a rejection can feel very disheartening. Nevertheless, you should be encouraged that the journalist took the time to reply to you. The fact that they’ve bothered to reply means they’re open to hearing more from you in the future. At the very least, you know this journalist is open to considering your pitches. Since you’ve now initiated a two-way dialogue, you can build on that some more.
Regardless of the kind of reply you receive, it’s important to gauge the tone of the reply. The journalist’s tone will help you decide whether it’s appropriate to send a follow-up email and when the best time to do that is.
3) Keep the conversation going
Once you’ve established a relationship, it is vital to keep the conversation going. In order to do this, you should focus your communication on email rather than social media since email is far more personal. Additionally, you should try to communicate with media professionals about once a month. However, the email should have important information or insights that could come in handy for a story the journalist is covering. Finally, it is important to be patient. If you do not receive a reply, do not bombard the journalist with too many follow-up emails. Two follow-up emails are plenty – any more than that could hurt the relationship. Keep in mind that if you send your follow-up emails but hear nothing back, this could be a sign to move on and focus more on building relationships with other journalists.
4) Network at events and host your own
Even in the digital age, nothing beats face-to-face interaction when trying to build a relationship. The best way to do this is through industry events. Before the event, it is beneficial to research the attendee list by company name to find out who is relevant to you and who the most suitable reporters to network with are. It’s also a good idea to be great to be familiar with some of their recent work, so that you can drop this into conversation. Most events allow applications for speaker and workshop roles. Getting a speaking role and being featured on a show can significantly raise your company’s profile and make networking much easier. After all, when you present yourself as a thought leader, people will be only too eager to talk to you.
You can also host your own events such as workshops, round-table talks, and hackathons. These are excellent ways to create and connect with a vibrant community. You can also encourage journalists to attend these events by offering them places on judging panels or speaking opportunities.
5) Keep in touch after they leave
When freelance journalists transition from working a “normal” schedule, companies that genuinely care about maintaining the professional relationship during the transition period can mean a lot to the writer. When freelancers quit a staff job, they’re usually worried about maintaining their professional connections. For this reason, it helps to keep in touch with a transitioning journalist even after they leave a big media outlet.
6) Respect their wishes
Freelance journalists do not have the same luxury of getting a proper paycheck by working a normal work schedule. Their time is money, and they do not live with the safety of taking a weekend, a sick day, or a long lunch with a PR pro. Even if they want to attend an event or meet up, it may not be possible due to other priorities. Remember that the relationship may change depending on a freelancer’s deadlines and their work patterns evolving.
7) Don’t pile on the pressure
Freelance journalists already face a lot of pressure both personally and professionally. For this reason, it is essential to balance your media outreach so that you’re not bombarding them with emails. Sending an endless stream of emails will only add more stress to their already busy lives.
In addition, it is essential not to send them random emails that do not add any value to the content they are writing. While you might see this as a way to extend an olive branch to a freelancer, it could be a misconstrued as being too needy or bothersome.
8) Timing is everything
Most freelancers generally combine shift work, branded or corporate work, and pitching ideas to publications. So, rather than assume that they spend their time just sitting and waiting for a new article to write, you should send your pitches in good time. Don’t send a journalist a pitch for a story which you hope they’ll write within a week. Rather, give them enough time to review the story and consider whether they want to take it on.
9) Respect a freelancer’s email
Nowadays, no matter who we are, we get many emails and newsletters that fill our inboxes, including things we don’t sign up for. For this reason, it can be quite irritating when a journalist has one positive interaction with you only to find themselves signed up to an email list they’re not interested in. In order to avoid a potentially awkward situation where a journalist unsubscribes themselves from your mailing list, it is best to ask for their permission first.
10) Make connections
It is important to make connections with the journalists you’re interested in working with. In order to make genuine connections with journalists, you must go beyond simply sending quality pitches to them about your company. A good PR specialist also goes out of their way to help in different ways. For example, you could introduce a journalist to other thought leaders in your niche, forward them emails about work opportunities and invite them to industry events.
The key to gaining media coverage and creating brand awareness is building a positive, mutually beneficial relationship with journalists and media outlets. Given that a big part of the world is working from home now, it is crucial to understand the shift from traditional journalism. Rather than just focusing on journalists who work with news organizations, hiring freelancers can help you get the word out there about your brand.