Cultivating reporters can be an all-encompassing task, one that requires equal expenditures of energy, stamina and determination. Not only does it help knowing what a reporter’s beat is, how it relates to who or what product you’re selling, it also helps to be respectful of their deadlines and know when and how to keep them informed. Following are some tips that should make your interactions with reporters smooth and productive—on both sides:
• Be available when a reporter needs to speak to you. It stands to reason that the people who promptly respond to a reporter’s questions and return their calls are going to get the best coverage.
• Say interesting things. You won't get quoted if you’re boring and sound like a robotic drone.
• If you want to clarify or expand on comments you made to a reporter during an interview, please follow up with them—and make sure you do this before deadline day.
• Provide statistics and other facts that can flesh out a story and give it some context.
• Offer multimedia content. We’re in a multimedia age where photos and print may not fully suffice. Always offer to provide graphics, sounds, video, databases and digital copies of reports, fact sheets, maps and background materials.
• Pitch story ideas well in advance. This is a no-brainer. Plan your pitch early so the reporter will have time to cover the story before their deadline.
• Update reporters on breaking news when they happen. If you don’t and the reporter finds out, this will make you seem disingenuous and non-trustworthy.
• Give reporters accurate contact information. Put complete information on every press release and e-mail you send them. There is nothing more frustrating for a reporter on a deadline than to have to scramble for contact information to confirm a story.
• If you are unhappy with something a reporter has done, speak to them first before lodging a complaint about them to their boss. You wouldn’t want if someone did this to you, now would you?