How to effectively engage with a journalist
As most of you will know, I recently presented at the Recruitment Agency Expo in Birmingham. It was here that I was asked a question many recruiters want to know the answer to: how do I effectively engage with a journalist? For us here at BlueSky PR, we deal with journalists on such a regular basis that it is second nature, but what can you do if you’ve never spoken to one before? Here are a few tips to consider:
- Identify the right person: It’s vital that you approach the right individual straight away – you don’t want to waste yours or the journalist’s time by going to the editor when there is an employment correspondent at the publication, for example. Read the magazine or newspaper thoroughly and list the individuals reporting on issues that are relevant to hiring in your specialist area.
- Demonstrate you know the publication: When you do speak to a journalist it’s hugely beneficial to demonstrate that you know their magazine inside and out. One of the biggest bugbears of many professionals is receiving ideas that aren’t relevant to their publication. Look at any specific sections on their website or in the print edition and outline which of these your article would be relevant for, and why.
- Don’t call on press days: The timing of a phone call is vital. If you reach out to a professional the day they go to print, you’re likely to be ignored and could potentially irritate the journalist. Research press days of the publication and avoid these completely. If you’re unsure, always ask when the journalist answers the phone if they have five minutes to discuss a possible idea.
- Be engaging: When speaking to a journalist on the phone or via email the ideas you’re conveying must be engaging. A sales-led piece will instantly put a journalist off, so consider what angle would appeal most to them and their audience.
- Get to the point: Journalists receive more emails and phone calls than most other professionals. As such, a lengthy email that goes into unnecessary detail is likely to be ignored. Likewise, a call that takes five or ten minutes to get to the point will only irritate them. Develop an elevator pitch that gets to the point straight away and you’ll find the journalist is more likely to pay attention.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to handling journalists, but following the steps above will set you on the right path to a greater relationship with your target media.