Responding to Media Requests
There is little greater than free positive press about your expertise and your business. If you’ve been engaging in proactive public relations such as pitching stories, putting out your own news and building relationships with journalists, inevitably the time will come when a journalist will contact you to help on their story. Whether it’s additional research in your field they need or a quote, it’s a great achievement for your efforts.
But handling the media request correctly will be the difference between a one-time call and a long-term relationship. Here’s how to ensure that a relationship is established and maintained.
Always respond quickly – Journalists are on deadlines. If you receive a request from a journalist for help on one of their stories, this is something you should make a priority. Some journalists will provide you with their deadline while others will just make the request for information. But it’s safe to assume they generally need the information as soon as possible. And it’s okay to follow-up and ask when they need the information. If you are not in a position to provide the information they need, definitely let them know. There are times when you just aren’t accessible because of travel or other pressing deadlines but all efforts should be made to get them what they need and on time, if possible. Either way, responding promptly is advised. They will definitely not be waiting for you to “get around to it” and will move on to another potential source.
Respond to what’s asked – There is often a great desire once you have a journalist’s attention to bombard them with information. Don’t. There will be other opportunities down the road. Simply respond to their request with a quote or research or whatever they have asked. If you have a lot of information that could be provided, just pick the best and let them know you have additional information should they require it. Never provide information they have not asked for or pitch them additional information not relevant to their current story. Stay professional at all times and be a great resource. If you are, they are more likely to use you as a source again.
Be a resource – Sometimes you won’t be quoted in the story and that’s okay. Some of the best long-term relationships I’ve established with journalists started with them just using background research and information my clients provided. And as advised, my clients kept building that relationship and eventually they were quoted in a future story. If you position yourself as a willing resource, trust me, that journalist will come back to you time and again.
Find out when the story runs and follow-up – Never ask to proof their story before it runs but definitely ask when the story will run so you can read it and link to it if it’s online. Also continue building the relationship. Send a quick email to the journalist letting them know you’ve read the piece and to thank them for quoting you or using your information. Remind them you are always available to be a source should they need anything in the future.
Engage on social media – If this is a journalist you’ve worked with before or someone new, you should engage with them on social media. Follow them on Twitter, for example, or depending on your working relationship add them on LinkedIn. This is a great way to keep in contact, see what other stories they are working on, and continue to be a resource as needed.