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3 top tips to find a journalist’s sweet spot

By Isabella von Aulock on 13th August 2015

Journalists can be like toxic waste sweets – hard to crack and often unpleasant when you first make contact, but manageable and even agreeable once you find their sweet spot.

To get to this point, you need to break through their hardened exterior, created by the daily bombardment of ‘off-the-mark’ pitching from thousands of other hopeful PRs and marketers.

Instead you need to prove yourself as a reliable source of information. Try using these three tips to find a journalist’s sweet spot:

1. Research, research, research

There’s no use pitching a snappy, jargon and link-filled blog on how great your client’s newly-launched mobile device is to a tech journalist who only takes corporate-style, byline articles on topics such as the gradual impact mobile technology is having on the UK banking sector.

If you do miss the mark, chances are you’ll be dropped into the ‘DO YOUR RESEARCH’ blacklist and it may take you a long time to rebuild that relationship.

When pitching, make sure you’ve done your research on the publication, as well as the journalist and kind of content he/she is interested in. Using tools such as FeaturesExec can really help you to see if the publication has any relevant features coming up that you could pitch your idea for, and looking at the kinds of stories and topics the journalist has written about in the past is essential.

2. Make them feel special

We all have targets to meet and coverage-hungry clients to please so why not impress by going straight to the top and hitting your top tier one, national target? Easier said than done, I hear you say!

Think again.

Old news is as good as no news to a top journalist, so try offering them an exclusive on the next research report results or a meaty piece of content you have to sell-in. By giving them a valuable piece of content under embargo a few days before it’s issued to wider media, you will not only maximise the chances of getting that trophy piece of coverage for your client on launch day but can also bag a journalist friend in the process.

And next time they’ll know who you are and that you’re a valuable source of information.

3. Become social buddies

There’s more than one route to successful journalist relations. With a wealth of channels at our fingertips, we can make the most of more “casual” tools like Twitter. It’s important to remember that journalists are humans and don’t want to have their social channels bombarded with business all day, every day.

Instead, you can use social channels to get to know journalists as people. Find out their hobbies and interests (without being a stalker!) and build up a genuine relationship, rather than consistently pitching them client content.

Journalists provide one of the best channels to reach your target audiences and build brand awareness for your clients, so make sure you’re pitching smart!

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