15 Jul 5 Ways You Can Improve Relations with Reporters as an Entrepreneur
Marketing is a difficult task made easier by press releases and reporters. They’re some of your best friends as an entrepreneur, and they can get the word out on your product and make sure it gets the exposure it deserves.
Unfortunately, that can make it easy to treat them as mouthpieces instead of the people they actually are, which can result in strained relationships. This makes communication unnecessarily difficult and can cause them to turn a blind eye to your press release if the relationship degenerates enough. Here are a few ways to keep that relationship strong.
- Get to the Point Fast
Information is important. Information gives entrepreneurs something to say and process and interpret. However, reporters are busy people. There’s always a new story to chase, so when you send someone a press release, have it go straight to the point. Don’t give them something to decipher. Make it easy to read and easy to process.
The first sentence should inform the rest and so should the subject line, if you’re sending it by email. If you can boil it down, use bullet points. If you can’t, use subheads to give reporters something to skim. Remember that you don’t need to give them everything – if they want to learn more, they’ll ask you.
- Send Real Pitches
If you’re doing your job as an entrepreneur, you’ll always have something to announce. There’s always some new innovation or new feature to talk about. While that may be exciting to you, it’s not necessarily exciting for reporters. They’re looking for big stories, things that get people pumped. Make sure that anything you send is relevant and actual news. The more throwaway emails you send, the greater the likelihood reporters will ignore you. You’ll end up in their spam bin and you won’t get the exposure you need and want.
- Customize Your Pitches
Every reporter is different, due to any number of factors. It could be their background, the company they work for, or their physical location. Respecting this is important if you want to nurture a relationship with one. Sending the same pitch to all your contacts is a great way to waste your time.
Customize your pitches to them. That means referring to them by name and sending them pitches that are relevant to them. Angle the product in a manner relevant to their publication or website and you’re more likely to get their interest.
This also means avoiding cold calls as much as possible. You likely have a network at your fingertips. Ask enough people and you’ll find an introduction to the reporters of your choice.
- Respect Their Limitations and Deadlines
Reporters are not magical creatures who can create articles at a snap of their fingers. They need time to do research and fact-checking, and they also have deadlines to meet. If you don’t know what considerations they need, ask them. Ask them when they prefer to receive information and what deadlines they have on a daily basis. A little respect goes a long way.
- Use Correct Grammar and Spelling
Reporters write for a living, much as you run a business for a living as an entrepreneur. While they aren’t necessarily critical and won’t bat an eye at one or two mistakes, a pitch riddled with grammatical errors will get deleted in a heartbeat. They have enough data to get through without having to comb your email for some lick of sense. Some may look past numerous errors if it’s groundbreaking, but why take the risk? What is groundbreaking to you may be mundane to them.
Take the time to proofread your emails. This will naturally consume hours of your life, but they’re hours well spent. If you really can’t spare the time, ask someone else to do it for you.
Being a reporter is difficult, and so is being an entrepreneur. While your fields are fundamentally different, you share an inherent respect for the value of time. You don’t want to waste it. Help your case by respecting a reporter’s time. Customize press releases, spell things right, and address them by name. They’re not your tools — they’re people with a job to do. Don’t forget to thank them, either. A “thank you” goes a long way towards building a strong relationship.
Contributions by Adrian Fox