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I read with great interest Saleem Khan’s resolutions for PR professionals in 2011. While I respect where he is coming from in his article, I find that he perpetrates the position that the journalist-PR relationship is, for the most part, antagonistic and that we, in the PR industry, are unaware of the challenges reporters are facing.
Not so I claim! In fact Saleem I believe the two sides are much closer than you may think.
I think if there is a problem with today’s journalist-PR relationship is that it really isn’t a relationship anymore but in many cases, a series of notes and points and facts that pass instantaneously in cyber-space. How horribly impersonal this has become.
I’ve been around this PR business way too many years not to have a thought or two about how we can all work together to make 2011 a new and productive year for this journalist-PR relationship.
I propose a back-to-basics approach to the relationship where the two sides actually, from time to time, meet and talk on the phone. What a novel concept, but one that seems ignored in today’s email, internet, Twitter and Facebook world.
Over my career, I’ve had the great pleasure of building and enhancing relationships with many of the country’s journalists in major markets here in Canada and around the globe. While we were never always on the same page, we respected the position that each other was in.
To that, I provide the following tips to help make 2011, the year of changing some of Saleem’s perceptions.
Frequent communication with key journalists
Most PR people focus on a core of key journalists that follow their industry or company. Find out who they are. Read and understand what they write about. Reach out to these journalists to learn how they like to receive information.
To the journalists, seek out the key PR people you want to have at the top of your contact list.
Be an industry source or resource
Have you considered helping a journalist even when you will not directly benefit from that action? I’ve passed along articles, notes and messages to reporters about industry trends and issues. While it might not have helped me directly, it helped position me as an industry resource. Journalists, be receptive to these offers of help. Everyone can contribute and the PR folks may have an interesting perspective, position or even a lead on an issue.
News Releases, Backgrounders and Q&A’s
Be thorough and provide quotes and key data including biographies and answers to the high level questions. Reporters will use some of this information but make sure if your name is on the news release as a contact, that you can provide some insight or a first line quote. Journalists, if you are looking for something that the PR folks aren’t delivering on, tell them.
In today’s 24 hour news cycle, deadlines are constant. You have to be available and make an attempt to help the journalist no matter when they call. Journalists will respect you for returning a call at 10 p.m. or on the weekend; even if it is only to say you can’t get them everything they want.
To sum it up
Finally, work on the relationship. Your 2011 New Year’s resolution is to meet with the key reporters. Face-to-face communication will build trust, rapport and respect for what each other is going through.
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