5 Tips for Breaking Through to Journalists You Don’t Know

Sandra Coyle
Sandra Coyle

Solid working relationships with journalists are a valued commodity for PR communicators, but how do you reach out to journalists you do not know?

Sandra Coyle, founder of Coyle Communications and speaker at PR News’ Dec. 11 One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging PR Stars, provides five tips for approaching journalists you don’t know.

1.     Target Your Lists – Use a media database, LexisNexis, or your own web research to identify journalists covering your topic area, or client’s topic area.

2.     Know Your Journalists – Research their coverage histories intensively. Oftentimes it will vary beyond their assigned beats.

3.     Start the Conversation – Pitch them in whichever way they prefer and whichever way you are most comfortable. Phone shy? Start with a short email pitch. Mention a story you liked and how your angle ties in with that. Make it timely, short and to the point. Make sure it ties in with what is being discussed in the 24/7 news cycle for more impact.

4.     Tap Into Your Network – Do you know someone who works for an outlet who can advise you on what journalist would be best to approach? Do you know other journalists who can do this for you? Do not be hesitant to reach out.

5.     Follow Up – Once you’ve made the connection, thank them for their time but don’t overdo it. Keep them interested and answer their questions. Provide them with information or other angles they may not be thinking of. Become a source they can trust and rely on long term. Recommend others in the field as sources. Be the connector.

One last piece of advice from Coyle: “Not every reporter is alike and you will get various reactions to your pitch. Remember the golden rule: 10 pitches will lead to one journalist who is interested on average. The better you target, the better your average.”

Sandra Coyle will talk more about working with journalists in the session “Media Relations: Day-to-Day Tactics for Successfully Working with Reporters, Editors and Bloggers” at PR News’ One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging PR Stars, which takes place on Dec. 11 at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Follow Sandra: @coylecomms or her blog at www.coylecomms.com/blog.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell