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Beyond Email: Creative ways to deepen relationships with journalists

As public relations professionals, it is not uncommon to hear “So, what exactly do you do?” in introductory conversation. While it’s true that we spend a lot of the day writing, there's much more to our jobs than one activity. Public relations is an important part of marketing, and when we write, we do so with a purpose. In securing client placements with various news outlets, we have the opportunity to articulate targeted messaging that directly constructs the public’s understanding of our clients.

We don’t do it alone, however.

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One of the most important aspects of our jobs—and the reason Walker Sands has  designated media relations specialists—is the nurturing of relationships with news outlets and reporters. While in the past we have typically depended on email to make the first connection with journalists (and before that, I don’t know, smoke signals? Carrier pigeons?), public relations professionals have begun utilizing more creative avenues to reach members of the media.

Leverage social media 

It is rare that I will reach out to a reporter via email before checking his or her LinkedIn profile and Twitter account. By taking that extra minute to read a bio or troll through a few recent tweets, I can quickly determine if my story idea is an acceptable fit for his or her beat.

With the increasing acceptance of social media as a corporate tool, both journalists and PR pros utilize social media for their business needs. Journalists can link to recent work and PR pros can share their clients’ news. By connecting with contacts and creating a rapport based around shared interests, you can easily establish a professional connection.

Face-to-face interaction does wonders for your brand

One of my contacts, James Hart from Thinking Bigger Business, was nice enough to contribute his thoughts on what he has found, as a journalist, to be the best way PR pros have connected with him. Unsurprisingly, he noted that in-person meetings are a wonderful way to meet new contacts and discuss any possible business opportunities.

James says, “A lot of outlets –especially smaller, industry-based publications—host live events. I've made great connections through some of the breakfasts and workshops that we've presented… I'm always looking for reps to work with, and this will be a time-saving way to meet eight to 10 of them over my lunch hour.”

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Combine the two for a rock-star approach to PR

At industry or networking events, publicize your involvement by @mentioning and #hashtagging while you’re there. Jot down notes on the back of business cards so that you can easily recall who you met and what you talked about. After the event, use your notes and connect with contacts via LinkedIn. Actively reaching out and developing relationships through social channels will strengthen connections that were made in person. What better way to establish credibility as a public relations professional? As a PR pro, it is important to combine the genuineness of in-person interaction and the reach of social media to establish connections that are lasting and beneficial to both you and your clients.