How can PRs build a trustworthy relationship with today’s journalists?

Article by:Ryan Seller


Gorkana’s State of the Media Report sheds some light on the all-important relationship between PRs and journalists today. The findings show that 75% of the media prioritise an accurate story over a breaking story, and only 3% say that they are willing to trust content from social media and blogs.
However, the wariness of #FakeNews can only be good news for the relationship between PRs and journalists. The report also outlines that 70% of journalists say that their relationships with PRs remain important in the wake of #FakeNews and 20% say that they are more important in light of it. When it comes to trustworthiness, news announcements and press releases are the most valuable content sources for the journalists of today.
With these findings in mind, how can you build this all-important relationship with journalists as a PR today?

1 Do your research
If a journalist is going to trust you, then you have to give them a reason to. Research what they write about and the topics that their publication covers—show that you’re a reliable and professional source and not just trying your luck with anyone. Being accurate is more important than ever, so take your time to get your facts right and it’s more likely that you will be able to build a trustworthy relationship. 
2. Build an authentic relationship
As we have established, it’s not just the accuracy of the content that matters: you need to be a trustworthy PR too. Be honest with the journalist (and client!) when working with them. When working on an interview, don’t offer the CEO for an interview if it’s really the marketing manager that is available. Everyone is worried about #FakeNews—especially journalists! If they are to be trusted, then so are the PRs providing the stories. If it is to be boiled down to one thing, what journalists want from PRs today is accuracy so don’t give them any reason to doubt you: if you’re transparent and work with the journalist, quote and reference your sources, then there should be no reason for uncertainty.
3. Think before you pitch
If you want a good relationship with a journalist then you need to think like one. What would annoy you if you were in their shoes? How would you respond to impersonal mass emails sent to loads of other journalists? If the email itself doesn’t come across as personalised, then it’s unlikely that the content within will resonate. There are plenty of pitch horror stories – don’t be one.
4. Don’t just be another voice in the crowd
In today’s digital landscape, everything is instantaneous, especially the media. So as a PR, when you’re competing against breaking news, use speed and authority to make sure you stand out.
5. It’s still a social game
Social media is full of breaking news stories and is often the first place that many of us will see a story. It might be instantaneous, but its downfall is obviously the credibility of the source. With journalists very unlikely to trust news from blogs or social media (3%), PRs should be pitching articles, opinion and press releases while keeping an eye on the breaking stories on social media.
The future may seem a little unpredictable, especially with the uncertainty surrounding social media at the moment (34% of journalists claim that changes to social media algorithms will have an impact on their daily lives), but as PRs, we must offer the thing that journalists are hard pressed to find anywhere else. Trustworthiness, accuracy and exclusivity have never been so important as they are in today’s digital world and this should be your key to building an authentic relationship with the journalists of today.
For more on the relationship between PR and media, read Ed Clark’s views in this week’s PR Week.


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