By CJ Arlotta, CJ Media Solutions, LLC
Many businesses — including managed service providers — focus too much on building media contact lists instead of developing long-term relationships with journalists, and that’s a problem. Unlike established relationships, contact lists can easily be bought by anybody with a credit card. While having reporter contact details is important, it’s not going to differentiate you from competition.
When pitching to journalists, you’re competing not only with your direct competitors but other vendors and MSPs also looking to grab attention. To separate yourself, play the long game by cultivating relationships with reporters covering your industry over time.
It may take a while to establish relationships with journalists in your space, so be ready to commit. But in the end, all your hard work is eventually going to pay off.
If you’re unsure of where to begin, there several strategies to consider.
If you want to get to know the journalists covering your space, read their stories before taking any other action (so many pitches go unanswered because the wrong reporters were targeted). It’s so important to contact the right reporter when pitching a story. The more you know about a journalist, the more you can customize your pitch and ensure what’s being sent is in the reporter’s wheelhouse.
Not all journalists covering the IT channel report on the same topics. For example, a journalist covering data centers may not report on mobile.
This works to your advantage. The odds are you’re more than likely comfortable with discussing a few topics but not many, so follow the journalists reporting on the topics you’re interested in commenting on and stay up to date on the conversations revolving around those areas. By doing this, you’re slowly branding yourself as an expert in topics you’re open to discussing.
Using social media is a great way to connect with reporters covering your space — especially if you can’t find the contact information you need elsewhere — but don’t be creepy with your approach. For example, don’t go liking and commenting on everything journalists share on their social media platforms. There’s a fine line between showing support and coming on too strong.
It doesn’t hurt to periodically contact journalists about stories they’re working on. This is a good way to remind them you’re around if they need you. Instead of asking something from them, you’re simply inquiring about their needs, and sometimes, they’ll reward you for it.
If you’re given the opportunity to meet with a journalist face-to-face, take it. Believe it or not, journalists sift through hundreds of pitches in their inboxes each day which means your email is probably going to get passed over unless it has a catchy subject line or the reporter knows you.
One of the best ways to get reporters to remember you is by meeting with them face-to-face. This gives them the opportunity to put a name to a face.
When meeting with journalists in person, always have something to offer them in return for their time. If you don’t have anything newsworthy to share about your company, then provide them with additional insight on a particular story they’re working on or a beat they cover.
The point of establishing long-term relationships with the journalists in your space is to elevate your status in their inboxes. You want to become a go-to source when deadlines are approaching and other sources can’t deliver. You can accomplish this by doing your homework ahead of time and maintaining relationships for the long run.
About The Author
CJ Arlotta is the managing member of CJ Media Solutions, LLC, a Stony-Brook, NY-based PR firm which provides a range of services for SMBs including ghostwriting, press releases, content creation, media relations, and more. He’s been a journalist for more than 10 years covering hospitality, healthcare, politics, and the IT channel. He’s written for Forbes, The Saturday Evening Post, ChannelE2E, Talkin’ Cloud, The VAR Guy, MSPmentor, and elsewhere. Prior to being a journalist, he worked as a communications specialist on political campaigns and for government officials.