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Helping Reporters

Benefits of Helping a Reporter Out - PR Firm Blog Post
Smart PR firms help journalists to find sources, even when those sources are not PR firm clients.

Recently, we helped a Wall Street Journal reporter find a source for a story on gay entrepreneurs. We also helped a BusinessWeek reporter find a source for a story on companies that have run into problems classifying workers as independent contractors.

All part of life's rich pageant at a PR firm, right?

Not exactly.

None of the sources we provided was a client of our Chicago PR firm.

The truth of the matter is that good PR firms are often placing stories for firms they don't work with.

As a standalone business model, doing this would be insanity.

You certainly can't earn a living by getting people PR placements for free.

But, helping out reporters with relevant, non-client sources is still a great thing to do.

When you assist a reporter by helping them to find a good source, you earn credibility points with the journalist that ultimately pays off in the form of a placement for your own clients.

Mind you, there's no quid pro quo here. Just because you help a journalist at Time Magazine doesn't mean they are going to put your client on the cover of the magazine.

But, still, your PR outreach is likely going to get serious consideration from journalists you've helped out in the past. You're no longer a cold call. You're a trusted friend and ally.

So, if you work at a PR firm and haven't placed a story for a non-client recently, give it a try.

By the way, if you help a non-client to get a placement, you may also get some good karma coming back from the firm that you got the placement for.

In fact, after you get them a placement for free, it's not unusual for them to decide to sign up for a monthly PR retainer and keep working with you.

The bottomline? If you own a PR firm, helping a reporter out is good business. It's win-win-win for everybody involved.

In fact, if you are in the market to hire a PR firm, you might ask them this question: So when was the last time you helped a reporter to get in touch with a story source who wasn't a client of yours?

If they've never done it, odds are they won't be getting you many PR placements if you select them as your PR firm.