How to Forge a Relationship with a Reporter

With today’s reporters and editors being ultra-busy due to staff cutbacks and heightened pressure to deliver, it’s become increasingly difficult to develop and maintain relationships with reporters. Pitching reporters and working with reporters, editors and the like, can be described by a long list of adjectives, including: challenging, rewarding, frustrating, exciting and terrifying, just to name a few. A critical element of progressing your public relations efforts forward, though, is to develop solid relationships with key reporters and editors who are central to your mission.

Create a Short Target List
Identify the key publications that correspond to where your accounting firm desires press on a regular basis. During this consideration process of determining your short list, also think about the possibilities for submitting articles and being active in what they’re doing in addition to media (such as conducting conferences).

It’s always about them, not you or your firm. Help them do their job. Ask questions, find out about their short-term editorial needs and their long-term editorial needs. Think of it as being a bit of a sales situation in terms of finding your way in to uncover information and take steps to build a business relationship. As with all situations, some people will be receptive on the phone, some via email … and you have to take it all one step at a time.

Look Ahead and Develop a Plan
After you have a grasp of their long-term needs, editorial calendar and so forth, put together a simple strategy for each target publication/reporter. With a strategy geared toward filling their editorial “buckets,” you’ll get some wins.Marketing and strategy

Determine Their Time-frames
Knowing their plans and various calendars is a great start to developing the desired relationship, but know that their deadlines are like an unshakable iron fence. Communicate with them regularly about your getting them what they need well in advance of their deadlines

Find the Right Communication Balance
Like all of us, each reporter, editor and publisher is different in terms of how they like to communicate – and how often. Ask them point blank what they prefer and then stick to it.

Properly Thank Them
Handwritten notes and comments made by other people upon reading their work go a very long way. Make it a regular part of your process with all reporters, relationship or not.

When you follow these tips and have a handful of strong relationships with reporters and editors, you’ll be at the brink of having win-win relationships – and often ones where they contact you more than you feel like you have to contact them. Landing in the position of being their advocate, assistant and business partner is exactly where you want to be.


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