Front and Center in a Journalist’s Rolodex


“I’m working on a story and I’m wondering if you can help with an interview source…” Isn’t that the kind of call every public relations pro wants to receive from a high-profile writer at The New York Times?
It isn’t a stroke of luck when your client is quoted in a top-tier publication. And if you do your job well, it won’t be the last time a specific journalist contacts you for an interview source. So if you’re tired of constantly making follow-up calls just to be ignored, here are three strategies to be at the top of journalists’ minds and at the front of their Rolodex.

Be an Information Broker. There is value in being specialized. Not only do you bring essential knowledge to the table, but also you come with your own Rolodex of key players within the industry that you represent. So cast a wide net, build a network of information sources and position yourself as an industry expert. You’ll no longer be another deleted e-mail in a journalist’s in-box; you’ll be a valued resource.

Rinse…Lather…Repeat. There is something to be learned from the message on nearly every shampoo container in the world. When you finally break through to a senior producer at CNBC or a top editor at USA Today, don’t let the first success be your last. A valued journalist is now familiar with your name, your voicemail and your e-mail address. Make the most of it! Once the segment or article is complete, don’t let that be the last they hear from you.

Bend Over Backwards to Help a Reporter on Deadline (whether it directly benefits your organization/client or not). It is not a waste of time spending an afternoon hustling for sources that don’t directly relate to your work. Journalists must be confident in your ability to react quickly and produce results.

To summarize, the aim is to develop powerful relationships where journalists rely on your help. Be a valuable resource. And consistently come through for them. Having journalists call on you for interviews, sources and even story ideas will not happen overnight. But if you follow these three tips closely, you won’t be surprised when top-tier reporters come knocking on your door.

Click here to read part one of this series.

Andy Levine is the President and Chief Creative Officer of Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based agency that has worked with over 350 cities, regions, states and countries.


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