One of the most important parts of building a public relations strategy for your startup is what PR experts call the slow approach that involves gradually building relationships with journalists over time. This doesn’t involve any pitch initially. After, all, you wouldn’t start a relationship by asking someone for favors. Would you?

Rather than pitching a journalist immediately, you should take time to establish a connection first.

If you have news to pitch to a journalist, the actual pitch should come much later. You have a higher chance of being taken seriously by a reporter when you’ve already made effort to build a relationship with them.

However, how possible is it to build successful PR using this slow method? Very possible. In order for it to work in your favor. Use the 7 proven ways below, to learn how to build relationships.

1. Build a media list

The first thing you need to do is to make sure you’re building a relationship with the right person. After all, 33% of people start ignoring emails that contain content that doesn’t align with their interests. The last thing you want to do is start sending a journalist who covers the fashion industry emails related to the tech industry.

Since you don’t want your target journalists to blacklist you, take your time to find journalists who write about topics relevant to your brand. While building a media list might seem tough, many PR agencies like Pressfarm can offer you access to a media database. Pressfarm’s media database spans different industries and contains over 1 million media contacts who can help you share your brand story with the world.

If digging through a media database to find appropriate media contacts for your story doesn’t sound like fun, then you can take advantage of Pressfarm’s customized media lists which are built by their account executive and designed to help you connect with the best journalists in your niche.

Beyond giving you access to media contacts, the experts at Pressfarm can also help you create content that can help you capture media attention and drive action among your target audience. With a professional press release, some engaging guest posts and a creative media kit from Pressfarm, you can make a splash in your industry and stand out from the competition.

Moreover, Pressfarm’s content distribution strategy is designed to get your brand name out there and put your content in front of the right eyes. By submitting your content to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can boost your online visibility and ensure your brand features in relevant search results across different search engines including Google, Bing! and Yahoo. With Pressfarm, you can share your brand story widely and reach the right people.

2. Read and distribute a journalist’s work

This is PR 101. There is a lot of noise online. Journalists are in direct collision with this noise as they strive to get their work to stand out from the noise. You can be a helper in a particular journalist’s journey. Eventually, when you consistently read and share their work, they notice you. Believe me, they do.

Someday they will reply to one of your shares saying thanks for sharing and that’ll be the perfect hook to start a conversation. Just be sure to tag them in the post, for example, before you share it with your followers.

3. Interact on social media

Social media is one of the best ways to establish an active online presence and engage with people, journalists included. They are humans after all. It’s therefore highly likely that they hang out on social media. Your challenge is to engage with their social updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc.

If you want to be remembered by said journalist, try staying respectfully informal no matter the topic of discussion. Make an effort not to look pretentious. If you can consistently give them a reason to tweet you back, then you will have a foundation for a healthy relationship right there.

4. Meet and talk

Face-to-face interactions with journalists are hard to come by but when they do and you make a connection, you never know what might come from it.

Building lasting relationships online is always a daunting task. If you can get yourself to events where journalists are, you’ll boost your chances of capturing their attention. However, this requires you to hone your social skills which also requires practice.

5. Suggest story ideas for journalists

As you continue to interact, you will come to learn about their most-read stories. And also what they like to cover. Eventually, you will have an idea of what stories a journalist will be interested in. Over time, you can continually suggest story ideas to them, especially stories that do not benefit you in any way. If you can do this, then you will have a higher chance of winning them over because you won’t look like a dishonest schemer trying to take advantage.

6. Offer to connect journalists to your network

If a journalist mentions that they’re working on a particular story and you know a thought leader who could contribute a quote or some insight to this story, reach out and offer to connect the journalist to this source. This journalist will appreciate the fact that you made an effort to help them in their time of need. Helping a journalist doesn’t give you a license to call in favors whenever you want. Even so, they will be more open to helping you in the future. If you’ve already done them a few favors.

7. Invite them to industry events

In addition to helping journalists write their stories, you can go one step further and invite them to industry events with no strings attached. A journalist whose beat aligns with your industry would be thrilled to get an invitation. Inviting them to events will help them remember you fondly when you write that email pitch.

Journalists receive hundreds of pitches on a weekly basis. In order to stand out from all the brands trying to get their attention in their inbox, you need to do things that will help your name stand out in their minds. These are just a few of the things you can do to help a journalist remember you when you finally send them a pitch.

Remember that building a relationship doesn’t guarantee that a journalist will write about your brand eventually. While they’re more likely to take you up on your story idea Sometimes they might pass on your pitch. This isn’t a reason to panic. After all, once you’ve done the groundwork to build a relationship with this journalist. This means their door is open for more opportunities in the future.