Media Matters: How to cultivate press relationships before you need them

By Evan Bleier
The Brief
By establishing yourself as a point person for journalists, you’ll create a network of brand ambassadors with powerful voices.

Contrary to the gospel of reality TV stars, there is such a thing as bad press. And as journalists, editors and, yes, even lowly bloggers, share information in a constant content stream, it’s more important than ever to include media members as part of your organization’s relationship capital. Supplement your PR work by cultivating a network of brand ambassadors in the media.

That means going beyond the occasional swag bag and forming real, human relationships. Just ask super-networker venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, who was once referred to as the “ultimate connector of Silicon Valley” by USA TODAY and was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study about the benefits of social networking.

In a recent blog post, Roizen offered up some pointers about how to establish yourself as a key source that media members will turn to if they need a quote or information. The key: Offer help even if the article or post doesn’t directly involve you.

First, says Roizen, identify which media outlets you’d like to be involved with and get to know them inside and out. Once you’ve targeted an appropriate contact person at each outlet, reach out to them with a compliment about a story or, even better, a fresh lead. Don’t introduce yourself by trying to sell them on your brand. Give without expectation of receiving anything in return; it creates a wealth of good will, especially among media members who are often used to getting the cold shoulder from potential sources. As Malcolm Gladwell put it in his 1999 piece, Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg, “There is nothing more irresistible to a human being than to be unqualifiedly liked by another.”

Such friendly favors can pay off in the end. And healthy media relationships could mean the difference between being featured in a cover story or being ignored altogether. 

The Takeaway: By presenting yourself as a personable, accessible and interesting media contact right off the bat, you’ll distinguish yourself from other sources and create allies who can help shine a spotlight on your brand later. 

Evan Bleier is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Maxim, Huffington Post and United Press International. This is his second post for this blog.
RelSci helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

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