Media Relations 101: Building Relationships with Reporters

Public relations is not so much about what you know, but who you know. That’s why all of the Walker Sands media relations specialists came together this month to share our best tips and tricks for developing relationships with reporters.

While our media relations specialists often collaborate across teams, each specialist has their own unique approach to building a rapport with the media. Over coffee and bagels, we consolidated our tips into four best practices for building relationships with reporters:

  • Be personable – No reporter wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot. Keep emails casual and to-the-point. Try mirroring their tone to get a better feel for how they prefer to communicate. Once you’ve established a rapport, send a short email to compliment them on a recent article. This shows the reporter that you’re interested in their work and that you’re not only contacting them for favors. You can also mail letters or cards when appropriate (i.e. birthdays, holidays, condolences). Even the smallest gesture goes a long way.
  • Stand your ground – Many media relations professionals, especially new ones, tend to be overly accommodating and passive when working with the media. That said, don’t be scared off when reporters ask why they should cover your pitch. Be ready to explain why your story is newsworthy. Reporters respect when you hold your ground.
  • Ask for feedback – When a reporter turns down your story idea, consider responding with something along the lines of, “Are you open to future pitches, and if so, what kind?” Feedback will help you better gauge how a reporter prefers to be pitched and what types of stories they are interested in.
  • Meet face-to-face – If you have the opportunity to meet a reporter in person, take it.
    Not only does meeting in person let reporters know you see them as a resource, it shows them that you’re a resource too. You can position yourself as their go-to PR contact by establishing a face-to-face connection and providing the reporter with a variety of expert sources.

Fellow PR pros: Do you have any other media relations tips for fostering relationships with reporters? Tweet us @WalkerSands!

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[VIDEO] Why Walker Sands Works

At Walker Sands we take a holistic approach when it comes to client services, taking care from the beginning to integrate the most viable channels to generate satisfactory results. We started off as a small group of people in 2001, and set our goals high to bring together advanced digital marketing and public relations.

Sixteen years later we’ve successfully infused digital marketing and content campaigns into creative public relations, resulting in an integrated triple threat marketing agency. And it works.

In this latest video from Walker Sands, Mike Santoro, president, and Ellen Hanson, COO, weigh in on how our unique services set us apart from other agencies. Mike explains how we integrate our two strong points, media relations and digital marketing, to effectively create powerful integrated campaigns to generate leads for our clients. In the video Ellen adds that it’s our curiosity for learning about the latest innovations in marketing technology that empowers our work.

From our humble beginnings, to the passion we instill into our work, this video gives a holistic depiction of how we work with our clients to provide the best digital marketing services possible.

Discover why Walker Sands works in the full video here.

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Team Spotlight: Tim Morral

Meet Tim Morral, director of editorial content for digital and PR at Walker Sands. Tim began his career at Walker Sands as a freelance copywriter and now brings over a decade of content experience to the company as our fearless content leader, working remotely from New York!

I sat down with Tim to learn more about content at Walker Sands. Here’s what he had to say:Tim-Morral

1. Tell me about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start working at Walker Sands?

I’m originally from rural Pennsylvania and took a nontraditional approach to a career in this industry. After graduating with a B.A. in Economics, I spent time doing a variety of nonprofit, technology and publishing work. I started working for Walker Sands as a freelance copywriter and have been full time for about six years.

2. What is your current role at Walker Sands? What does your day-to-day look like?

No two days are ever the same for me, which I think is true for most of us at Walker Sands. I’m directly involved in content development and creation for many of our clients. I also spend a lot of time coaching and working with our other content experts, both on the PR and digital teams.

3. How has Walker Sands changed since you first started at the company?

The biggest change I’ve experienced is our growth. When I joined Walker Sands, I was the only content person on staff. When I visited the office, I could walk around and talk to the entire company in just a few minutes. Now, we have an entire team dedicated to content, and I see new faces every time I visit.

The past several years have been an exciting time at Walker Sands. It’s been great to be part of the development of our content team and our growth has enabled us to deliver high-quality work for our clients. We’ve really become trusted partners to our clients and are committed to continuing to grow our teams across all creative service practices to meet client needs.

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5 Resolutions for Marketers in 2017

When we approach planning with our clients for the new year, it’s usually about how we can help grow their companies. We discuss how we can target bigger audiences, execute on more creative campaigns and secure more media placements and leads than we did the prior year.

For marketers, a new year also means an opportunity to grow, learn new skills and refresh your marketing strategy. In the spirit of growth, here are five resolutions that should be on every marketer’s list in 2017:

  1. Track, measure, repeat: Accurate and consistent tracking are key for gauging the effectiveness of B2B marketing campaigns. Though it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle of a campaign, it’s important to make time to thoughtfully analyze how to move forward. By leveraging analytics, you’ll be able to ensure you’re targeting the right people with the right message while capturing some useful insights for future initiatives.
  2. Develop better content: Content was king in 2016, and the same will hold true for 2017. This year, marketers should ramp up their digital marketing efforts by integrating relevant SEO keywords into their content. To retain your brand’s status as a thought leader, create an editorial calendar to ensure you’re regularly publishing original content, newsletters and on social media.
  3. Attend industry webinars and conferences: Though conferences and workshops require travel and professional development budget, they provide marketers with valuable takeaways. Make a case for your presence at industry events, work it into your budget and make the most of every minute you’re there. Check out The CMO Club’s Spring Innovation Summit or the 2017 Marketo Marketing Nation Summit.
  4. Read a new marketing book: Between hectic work schedules and personal obligations, reading is something many people just don’t make the time for. But setting aside some time each week to read a new marketing book can reinvigorate passion for your job, provide new knowledge and expose you to new industry research. “Hacking Marketing” by Scott Brinker and “Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer” by Carlos Hidalgo are two of our go-to books.
  5. Try new things and think big: To jump start the year, hold a brainstorming session with your team to think of ways you can inject more creativity into your marketing efforts. It’s easy to fall into the same routine of what’s worked in the past, but marketers can avoid this mentality in 2017 by making a daily effort to think more creatively and come up with out-of-the-box ideas for their companies. Technology can also help marketers streamline their efforts — freeing up time for more strategic efforts. With the influx of new marketing software and devices, it’s important that marketers are open to trying new things this year.

While this is by no means an extensive list of the ways you can grow as a marketer, it’s a good place to start thinking about how you want to improve your department in 2017. Write your resolutions down in a spot you see often, and lean on your colleagues or friends to ensure you execute on your goals.

Marketers, what professional resolutions are on your list for 2017? Tweet us @WalkerSands!

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What It’s Like to Intern at Walker Sands

Though we’re currently enduring winter here in Chicago, we already have our minds set on summer. At Walker Sands, summertime is filled with team bonding, beautiful weather and of course our summer intern class. Our internship program, which we like to call The Sandlot, helps aspiring PR, content, graphic design and digital marketing pros get hands-on experience and do real work for our tech and B2B clients.

We’re currently looking for talented young professionals who are eager to hone their skills and join our fast-paced environment. Check out what past interns say about their experience at Walker Sands, and learn more about our internship program here:

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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