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

Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


About Richard Brownell

Richard Brownell is Content Manager, PR Events at PR News. He has several years' experience in developing and producing online events. Richard is a published author with several titles for young audiences to his credit. He has also written political commentary for several popular websites and his stage plays have been produced in New York and other major cities.

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' PR Measurement Conference


Join us on April 20, 2015, for PR News’ essential PR Measurement Conference at the National Press Club in D.C., and learn how tie PR metrics to measurable business outcomes.

Use code “150off” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Book of Employee Communications


In this 5th volume of PR News’ Book of Employee Communications, our authors cover more than 45 articles on crisis communications, social media policies, human resources collaboration, brand evangelism and more.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription


Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.