By Kate Hellig, Account Executive
At the risk of repeating a cliche we have all heard time and again over the past couple of years, I will keep it brief: the pandemic changed everything: the way we work, our practices, expectations and norms.
In the public relations industry, this was no exception specifically upon considering how dependent our sector is on media attention which saw much of it consumed by Covid doom and gloom content. Added to this, the pandemic made it near to impossible to meet up with journalists face-to-face and this drastic reduction in the amount of real facetime led to previous contacts being lost and fewer new ones being made.
It’s been a long two or so years but (hopefully) the light we are now starting to see at the end of the tunnel is here to stay. As we begin to move out of the pandemic, we are beginning to see more opportunities arise for face-to-face meetings with journalists (arguably the most fun part of a PRs job!)
Informal or professional conversations?
I (along with some of my fellow media team colleagues) recently met up with Scott Bechino (Editorial Director of Telecoms.com) and a couple of his friends for an informal meetup and get to know you session at a pub in the Big Smoke. We drank pints and chatted about bands, festivals, movies and similar light and breezy topics.
We came away from the evening with insight into Scott-the-person as opposed to Scott-the-journalist and, at the very least, become faces (and personalities) to some of those names he will see in his inbox and, while this may not guarantee a secured media opportunity, it should ensure at least an email read.
While some journalists certainly prefer more informal, personal meetups, others do like to keep it purely professional. In this case, come armed ready to discuss the media hot topics and landscape along with a few pitches on initial client story ideas (obviously ensuring you have done your research well to make sure you are pitching relevant insightful ideas). Such face-to-face meetings will help you establish a reputation with the journalist as a reliable source of quality information, which will definitely help you out in the future.
Either way, meetings are memorable: when physically getting together with journalists they will be more likely to remember you and, if they are working on a relevant feature, they will certainly be more responsive to your emails as you are now not just a name without a face.
It doesn’t stop there
As the first meeting may not be (and doesn’t necessarily have to be) always transactional, don’t expect something to happen for you right away. But do actively take the time each week to build on the relationship from here: continue to send relevant information and pitches that they want (that they really, really), read their content and engage with them over social media, making sure to maintain regular contact.
While such meetings may at first be a bit daunting what’s the worst that could happen? Sure, you may stumble over a few words or take a bit longer to get to the point the first couple of times but, as they say, practice makes perfect and before you know it, this will become second nature.
At the end of the day, PRs face time with journalists is one of those back-to-basics tactics that produces great results for clients. Creating and maintaining trusting relationships built on face-to-face interactions is invaluable. While be it five months or five years into your PR career, media relations will always be the bread and butter of your job.