PR book On-line Readings in Public Relations by Michael Turney
Working with the media:
Visit, network, and schmooze
© 1998 Michael Turney Table of contents Practicing Public Relations main page About the author

"In order to effectively pitch or respond to a news reporter you must first know what the reporter wants. Working with the media without that knowledge is like asking for trouble."
-- Al Rothstein, editor
Media E-Tips (electronic newsletter) 3/5/00

Personal relationships are a key to organizational relations.

Visiting the media's editorial and/or production offices and getting to know the people who work there well enough to include them in your professional network is one of the best ways to start building an organization's relationships with the media.

Beyond visiting the media's offices and talking with these folks on their turf, it's also very helpful to invite them to come see your office and tour your organization's facilities. Such informative, yet casual interactions help establish a common ground for future contacts that may deal with more specific and more important issues.

Once an initial meeting and familiarization are out of the way, visits to the media's office are usually quite rare. Most reporters and editors, even those who welcome a getting to know you visit, do not encourage nor appreciate public relations people who frequently drop in on them. In fact, they're likely to be very suspicious of such activity.

The most common networking tool is the telephone.

If you're careful to avoid calling near deadline times, and if you make it a point to ask if the reporter or editor you're calling has time to speak with you when you call, most of them will be happy to have you periodically touch base.

But don't call just to pass the time or to talk about the weather, have some relevant information you can pass along to them during these calls.

Most reporters will appreciate any story leads or ideas you give them, as long as you don't later try to claim ownership or make them feel you're trying to push the story.

Above all, don't call with gratuitous compliments or effusive thank yous for stories that don't warrant them. It's likely to backfire. Remember that many reporters have some degree of innate suspicion of public relations practitioners. They really don't like working with public relations people, and they're uncomfortable about doing it even when they're getting useful information. So, if they start thinking a public relations person is grateful to them or is trying to butter them up, they start worrying that they have been, or are about to be, conned and they may begin to doubt your sincerity about everything.

At the very least, media visits, phone calls and other personal interactions should make future exchanges of information easier for everyone involved. At best, they will also be pleasant breaks in the daily routine, mini social occasions, instead of just another business duty.

Table of contents Return to
Working with the media
The fourth step:
News & feature releases
The fifth step:
News conferences
Practicing Public Relations main page
3 April 2011