The Thrill of the Chase – Four Tips for a Better Journalist Relationship

Today’s a good day. You’ve worked with your client to get an insightful piece of thought leadership written up, and pitched it to an interested journalist. Now you’re just waiting for it to appear. And waiting. And waiting. When did the journalist say they were going to publish the piece again? Are they waiting on something else from you? What are you going to tell your client? Although this isn’t a frequent occurrence, it’s important to know what to do when it crops up. So, if you’re falling at the final hurdle, between securing media coverage and seeing that coverage ‘ink’, here are a few cast-iron tips to save yourself a headache, or avoid it happening altogether
Manage expectations
This is number one really. There’s clearly a world of difference between a media rapid response opportunity that needs comment in a few hours, and a phone briefing that has been slated by the journalist to appear ‘in the next few months’. So while you don’t want to undersell an opportunity, make sure that all parties know at least a rough timeframe for the opp in question.
Understand the news cycle.
Many things can disrupt your story appearing, whether that’s breaking news, shifting editorial priorities, or even a change in staff. If you’re keeping tabs on all of this (and most of the information is easily available), you can build a much better picture of where your coverage is on its journey rather than groping about in the dark.
Make the journalist’s life easier
All backlinks, bios, images etc. should go over first time to avoid the journalist having to chase youIf you’re friendly enough with the journalist, then why would you annoy your friend? If not – make a good first impression!
Have something else to offer.
Sometimes the fates will conspire against you and the result you wanted just isn’t going to happen. Often it’s no-one’s fault (it certainly shouldn’t be yours), but this doesn’t mean it’s all over. If a journalist couldn’t use your client’s comment, pitch them in for a full interview. If the article ended up getting pushed down the line, ask if there’s a gap you can fill in the here and now. These tips are a sort of first aid kit for media relations. In your day to day, it’s really unlikely that you’ll ever use them! But if the time comes, some simple steps can make sure that you’re doing right by client and journalist alike. After all, it’s better to ‘have’ and not need, than ‘need’ and not have.