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How to Thank a Journalist

Lauren Eichmann

Thank You Most people think saying ‘thank-you’ in return for a gift or other type of interaction in which you’re grateful, is a simple courtesy.

For the media, that's not necessarily the case.

Thanking a journalist after an interview, or after they covered your client in the news, could actually be a negative thing. Many PR and corporate professionals believe it’s logical to offer thanks to someone who has taken the time to learn about their company and include them in a story. Reporters, on the other hand, will take a step back and tell you that they didn’t do you a favor, but reported on newsworthy information.

Reporters are supposed to be objective, so you should instead give them kudos in other ways. 

Thank Them For Their In-Depth Reporting – This can include their objectivity and accuracy with the details of the story.

Compliment Them on Their Breaking Story – If they are the first to break some news, this is a big win for a reporter. Feel free to congratulate them on the success.

Congratulate Them on Their Well-Received Story– If you’re working with a freelancer and their story appeared in a top-tier publication, you can compliment them on landing their piece in such a well-respected outlet. If you see the story being re-Tweeted frequently, it’s ranked ‘most e-mailed’ on a certain Web site, or even appears as a top story on Digg or Reddit, praise them on the success.

While some compliments can be nice to hear, make sure you’re offering sincere praise. It’s rather easy to detect when someone is offering praise just to flatter the reporter. It doesn’t work, and sometimes you can even be caught in the disingenuous adulation.

For example, when attending a conference, one of my colleagues witnessed someone (we’ll call her Beth) approach a reporter (Sue) and thank her for her excellent news coverage. Sue was happy to encounter a loyal reader and asked Beth what recent story she liked the most. Beth responded that she ‘liked them all.’ She clearly did not know any of Sue’s stories and it made her appear very insincere.

What About Bloggers?

Given that bloggers are more often being considered a type of reporter, it poses the question of whether you should thank a blogger for their coverage.

Bloggers, unlike journalists, do not have reporting standards and objectivity guidelines for what they write (though some prominent blogs do abide by their own rules for being a neutral source of information). The new FTC blogger guidelines in effect December 1 (see my previous post) state that bloggers must be transparent about their motivations behind a post and/or review of a product if they were given some type of incentive for writing it.

With all the tools available to track mentions of your company or client online, it’s tempting to thank a blogger for their coverage. For example, two different companies thanked an Acquity Group blogger in a blog post that mentioned their brand.

What do you think? Is it good to thank a blogger for their coverage of your company? Why or why not?