RELATIONSHIPS

1. a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings.

Who are you going to reach out to about you/your show/your project/your product?  Where do you send that press release?  That media alert?  Those pitches?  So many journalists’ contact information is easily attainable online if you’re willing to take the time to look.  But how do you build relationships?  Read their writing, watch their shows and segments, listen to what they have to say and what is interesting to them.  Then think about how you/your show/your project/your product could fit into their format.

Email them about one of their pieces that resonated with you, ask them to have coffee, invite them to whatever you’re doing as a guest (without the expectation of coverage), pick up the phone.  I can’t stress how much we’re all guilty of emailing more than speaking on the phone and having that connection can mean a world of difference.

I’m as guilty as the next millennial when it comes to emailing rather than picking up the phone, but following up via phone with a journalist at the Associated Press helped me secure coverage for a client.  The story was serviced across their wire and picked up by local outlets across the country which was a huge opportunity for my client.  The writer had a lot happening and by checking in via phone, he agreed to interview and write a story about my client.  

An example of the inverse was for a CBS Sunday Morning piece.  I have a very good relationship with the entertainment booker there and he is an excellent storyteller.  By calling him before sending an email pitch, I was able to gauge his interest and tailor the pitch to what intrigued him (as opposed to pitching what I thought was interesting).  He liked the story we were telling and agreed to take it to his executive producer and got a green light to shoot.  

Once you’ve started to discover WHO you need to reach out to, it is time to build a media list.  Media lists are the most important outreach tool you can have when handling your own PR.  I love using Google Sheets which are easy to share and can be edited by multiple people at once (if you’re sharing).  Start a new document and label each of your columns.  My preference is OUTLET, FIRST NAME , LAST NAME, TITLE OR BEAT, EMAIL, PHONE.

Generally the media you are pitching will not change from project to project (depending on their beat and your story angle).  It is great practice to always note bounceback emails that can help you update your contact information for any given individual.  And when you discover someone new, put them on your list!  Slowly and surely, you will begin to amass a group of people that may be interested in publicizing what you have to say.

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