6 Steps to Build Good Karma with Your Editorial Contacts

Posted by on December 13th, 2012

I was recently asked by Margot Lester, a part time reporter and content provider at The Word Factory, to write a blog on why, I, as a PR professional, often touch base with my media contacts.

Margot said, “I’m always talking about how much this (touching base) means to reporters like me – how it makes me like you and WANT to hear from you. That can only be good for your clients. And it saves us all time because you don’t bark up the wrong tree on client time.”

Full disclosure: Margot is one of my freelance reporter ‘friends’, who writes for Monster.com and she has used my career expert clients in many an article over the years.

Her statement sure warmed my heart!  I pride myself on my ability to build strong media relationships, and most of this has to do with respect and how you make others feel.  It’s my job to build my clients’ brands and reputations via stellar media placements, and that’s where the ‘Margots’ of my life, karma and the Golden Rule all come together.

So, for anyone just beginning their communications career, here is my tried and true advice on how to build solid editorial contacts:

  1. Writers and editors are insanely busy, so help them out: Every person I know tells me they are so busy and there aren’t enough hours in the day, including my mom who’s retired!  One of the main reasons I check in with the media is I know they are juggling crazy workloads and multiple projects with unreasonably short deadlines.  So, if I can assist a media contact or save their day by getting a quote or appearance on short notice – it’s a win-win.
  2. What comes around goes around: It may sound simple, but being nice pays off. Again, think about your life in general: Would you rather deal with a jerk or nice person?  With the help of my fabulous clients, I pull a lot of rabbits out of my hat to help reporters and editors make those crazy deadlines.  Well, guess what? The next time that media contact needs an expert, they will probably call the person who worked that magic the last time!  Karma, baby!
  3. How can I help: Life is not a one-way street, especially when dealing with freelance writers whose beats often change. So it behooves PR people to ask, “What are you working on?” or “Is there anything I can help you with?” Reporters beats change often and you may have a new client that fits their beat, so guess what, that (good) karma thing usually kicks in!
  4. Communication is key: It is your job to figure out how a media contact likes to communicate – this is very important. Yes, email is the most common way to talk, but I have also connected with media via LinkedIn and Twitter. I have one editor that loves to call and chat about her dog, her weekend plans and, oh yeah, how she would like to use my clients. Sometimes I think, “I don’t have 30 minutes to talk about non-work stuff,” but you have to remember showing respect is part of acquiring your media friends.
  5. Make it personal: After working with some of the same writers and producers for years, I feel like I’ve developed some friends who are not just ‘media friendlies’.   I’ve heard about the birth of new babies, vacations, rock bands, etc. Obviously, people’s comfort level of sharing varies a lot, but the more your contacts get to know you the more they’ll think of you for help with a story.  Is it karma? I don’t know…it just works.
  6. The squeaky wheel gets the hit: If PR professionals don’t check in with their contacts every once in a while, guess what happens?  They forget about you.  The trick is to learn how often to check in with your ‘Margots’. Writers will let you know if you are being a pest. If they can’t use your client again for a month or 6 months, they aren’t telling you to get lost, they’re just telling you to flag the email and give them a call in 6 months.  PR folks need thick skin, so just take it as a compliment that they WANT to hear back from you, but in 6 months. I have found that most writers are looking for good content and great sources. Help them out and they will appreciate the info even if they can’t use it as much as you’d like.

As a PR pro it’s about building your brand and reputation with your own collection of ‘Margots’.  So follow the PR Golden Rule – treat the media how you want to be treated – and your good karma may pay off in the form of fabulous media hits and overjoyed clients!