50 ideas for grabbing the media’s attention: Networking for coverage [PART 2]

This is part two of a seven-part series on earning the media’s attention and getting the coverage you want. If you missed it, read part one here.

In many ways, cultivating relationships with reporters and other journalists is just like networking with peers, prospects and influencers in any industry. It requires a consistent effort over time, but can pay off with good coverage.

Here are six networking tactics worth trying to build relationships with media professionals.

1. Have get-to-know-you meetings with reporters. Have coffee, breakfast or lunch with reporters on your beat. Ask them lots of questions. Tell them a bit about you and your business. Offer to be a source and give them your business card. One tip – bring at least one solid story idea to this meeting, in case the reporter asks. This is a soft-sell approach, but often more effective than a hard sell on a specific story idea.

Networking photo

CC-licensed photo by {a title="Jodi Womack's Flickr page" href="http://www.flickr.com/people/jodiwomack/" target="_blank"}Jodi Womack{/a}

2. Meet with reporters while traveling. Have a business with a statewide, regional or national footprint? Reach out to reporters who cover your industry in the cities where you’re traveling and ask if you could have coffee with them or even stop by their offices while you’re in town. Be prepared to offer something relevant to them. They may not care about what’s happening at your corporate headquarters hundreds of miles away, but if you can make a case for significant local impact you can get coverage.

3. Build relationships based on your civic and political knowledge. If you’re well connected in political, civic or volunteer circles in your community, you might consider building relationships with reporters based on that knowledge. That could include offering them off-the-record tips on stories they should be covering and sources they could be talking to. Though none of those things themselves may bring your business or organization coverage, chances are it will build the relationship and create opportunities to pitch more on-target stories. And because the journalists will have grown to appreciate your help with other things, they are more likely to respond to those ideas.

4. Let your professional contacts know you’re available for media inquiries. If they get inquiries from the media that they can’t respond to (or don’t want to), tell them you’d be happy if they referred reporters to you.

5. Follow reporters on Twitter and link to them on LinkedIn. You can search those sites for questions from your journalism connections, and then chime in to answer them (and become a source). You could even put it right on your profile (in your LinkedIn headline or your Twitter profile) that you are available to answer questions from the media. Muckrack.com is a great resource to find reporters by geography or beat on Twitter. (Having trouble getting reporters to follow you back on Twitter? You might be doing it wrong.)

6. Connect with journalism professional groups. I can think of at least two professional societies devoted to business journalism, plus others devoted to health care journalism, religion news, government news, nonprofits and more. If your business intersects with any of these areas, consider making arrangements to attend one of their events to network. You might also find ways to offer a webinar or teleconference to members, to position yourself as the go-to expert for member reporters. This site, hosted by Arizona State University, includes a list of journalism groups.

If you’ve got other networking and relationship-building tips for connecting with journalists, we’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments below.

Coming next: Want specific tactics on how to establish yourself as an expert with journalists? That’s coming up next, so click here to sign up for email updates. Make sure you don’t miss it!

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