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What the Best Media Contacts Do And Don’t Do

If you’ve been in PR long enough, there’s no doubt you’ve received some nasty emails from short-fused journalists who’ve been inundated with misdirected, off-target and just wrong pitches.  A few weeks ago, I ended up getting the exact opposite; a good-natured note from a high-profile journalist letting me know that he couldn’t cover a story I had pitched him, but providing some great info that will help my entire team moving forward.

In this light, here are a few things that I’ve noticed the best media contacts do and don’t do:

Do: Be constructive in their rejection!

This reporter let me know that his beat had changed recently and went on to offer the contact info and areas of interest for each tech and business writer at his outlet. It was probably the best rejection email I’ve ever gotten.

Do: Come to you for a story

There’s nothing more gratifying in the PR world than having a reporter seek you out to help craft a story.  If you put in the time to cultivate a strong working relationship and stay in touch on issues of common interest, one day a contact is going to have the perfect story for your client and reach out to you proactively. That is a serious coup in agency-land and your stock will rise in the opinion of both the client and the journalist.

Don’t:  Use your information without referencing your client

Unfortunately, this happens from time to time.  You give a contact a great new study or survey from your client, they like it, they cover it, and they never even mention the source!  All that work doesn’t even turn into a hit.  Recourse? We do recommend politely seeking credit after the fact, particularly from an online media source. The “good” ones will update a post with client credit.

Don’t: Forget we had an appointment!

Reporters are very, very busy.  We all know this.  And sometimes, no matter how many email reminders and calendar requests you send, they’ll still completely forget about that briefing you had arranged between them and a client. This can be frustrating, but the only thing you can do is reschedule, move forward, and reconfirm!

What do you think?  What other helpful habits to great media contacts possess?

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