Building Effective Media Relationships


Building a really good relationship with a reporter is not easy – but I have found that once I built a good relationship – it lasts a lifetime – no matter where they go. I have solid relationships and I believe its because it was based on mutual interest. I want them to tell good stories but I also want to be effective at my job without compromising them or me. It must be win-win.


The first thing I learned early on is how demanding their jobs are. Journalists are bombarded with pitches and face lots of pressure from Editors, from advertisers, from PR agencies. The struggle is real for them too between the stories they want to write vs the stories they are assigned to write by their editors. So first things first – be mindful. They have it coming at them from all angles and they have serious deadlines.


Want to know the three most important things you need to know about building effective media relationships from my playbook?


1- Always Answer A Journalist Who Calls.
I have a strict policy about this. I always answer when they call me because I want them to answer me when I call them. Sometimes the media call to get information, ask for a quote, or they need a lead, connection or need something for their work not related to me. That is when I make sure to go the extra mile to help them. I decided to implement this policy when I was in the middle of a major earthquake of a crisis with Google. Answering those calls was hard. I knew they were going to pepper me with questions I didn’t want to answer,  but if I didn’t answer in the middle of a terrible crisis I was facing, how could I count on them to answer me when I needed the? I kept saying to myself – its my credibility on the line here. I kept thinking its my name and reputation they will remember not the company I am representing. My inner voice said a crisis will come and go, but the relationship must remain long after its over. I wanted them to say – when times were batshit ugly – Maha never wavered and picked up every call as if it were good news. Trust me everycall was painful, hard and difficult to answer. But I did it anyways because relationships matter.


2- Add Value When Nobody’s Looking.
I always try to add value to my relationships with the press when it has nothing to do with me or my clients work. When I know they are following a story or an issue and I see a good lead for them – I pass it along. That is adding value. When I see the opportunity to give them access to someone, I make the introduction. That is adding value.  I firmly believe that introducing people and adding value when nobody is looking is one of the best values of doing good business. So do good business.


3- Timing is Everything.
Know when to go all in and that is called being relevant. Landing a good story is almost always always about timing. Are you telling your story when it matters – when someone cares to read it and when the story has its highest value/ highest demand for readership? The end of the year is a great time to share data about that year – package up some fun data and share it with the media in a cool infographic- i just love data visualization!! At the end of the year, the news desks are short on staff due to holidays and year-end stories always get play. The start of a new year is also a great time to preview a new app – an up and coming start up, a notable businessperson that might be a newsmaker for the year. Another really good tip is to plan your news stories and announcements around local or global major events and share a local hook or insert yourself into the story. Is there a major local event in your city – leverage the fact that the media are covering that topic and find a way to tell your story because its relevant to the news editorial calendar. We practiced this alot at Netflix — come up with relevant stories based on timing. For example, summer is when everyone is on traveling on holiday and not too many people are at home inside watching TV. So to be relevant, we came up with a story on what to watch on the plane, at the airport, on your road trip or the beach. We made it even more relevant by promoting the new ‘download’ and go feature where you can download your favorite show and take it with you when on vacation. Another cool thing we did was to share a list of all the shows that came out during the summer that consumers probably missed due to being on vacation. So we packed up a story which focused on ‘here are all the shows you missed over the summer’ for some catch up viewing inspo! Thinking about the timing of your story will help you get coverage that matters. Be relevant to what’s happening – dig out your calendar folks!

Practice the 3 P’s