When you develop a reputation for being responsive and generous, an ever-expanding mountain of requests will come your way. ~ Adam Grant
You see value when the media talks about your work. It helps add credibility to your expertise, and escalates the opportunity to expand your reach with larger and focused audiences you admire. Nevertheless, don’t forget, journalists are people too — and if you want the news to know you, making the effort to know the voices behind the news will help your work stand-out and get picked up.
Here are a few ways you can build relationship with the media before you begin your pitching process.
Do Your Research
Here at Weaving Influence, we work with several authors that write about leadership and workplace culture. That said, our clients’ expertise consistently aligns well with topics covered in outlets like Forbes, Inc., SmartBrief on Leadership, and Fast Company.
If you don’t have print subscriptions or the time to scroll through these outlets regularly, you can stay up-to-date by subscribing to their newsletters that share top stories, or to catered reads on desired topics.
Once you find a few articles that parallel with your work, see who’s writing it and see what else they’ve written in the past 3-6 months. Look for anything on par with your background, and make a list of the 5-10 journalists who wrote them.
Find and Follow
Now that you have a list of reporters, look for them on social media and follow them. I recommend Twitter, as it is a common place reporters share their work and thoughts on other news. If you’re having trouble tracking them down, try searching for their social media handle within their bio page on a media outlet.
Also, go back and look at those who covered you before and check out some of their recent materials to see if the topics are similar. If so, follow them too!
Like, Share, Retweet, Repeat
Now that you have some new media contacts on your feeds, take a look at what they are tweeting and posting about and engage. Like, share, and retweet the content that inspires and interests you. This shows you appreciate their work and sets your expertise up to be appreciated. Set aside some time every week — even if it’s just an hour to read a few articles, tweets, post, etc. This will give you time to learn their tone and authentically interact with their shared content.
Don’t be afraid to engage with subjects that seem unrelated to your work. Remember, journalists are people, and when you spare a like and share here and there on a casual human interest, you remind them you are too.
They may not engage back, but they’ll notice the person always engaged in their work. Especially if you’re one of five.
A Couple Things to Avoid
While engaging with journalists, avoid pitching your idea via social media or over email too quickly. It will downplay all the previous efforts to engage. Don’t become the person who only shows support when they need a favor. Give it some time before you pitch anything.
Don’t use blocked time to stalk someone’s profile and inauthentically like and share all their posts back to back. If you react to 5 of his or her article posts in a row, it can be obvious you didn’t read anything. Take the time to read their content, and prove it by quoting their work when tweet/post or comment about it, and adding your personal and professional reflections where it deems relevance.
You’re playing for the long run, but your loyalty sheds a greater shot in being sourced and trusted. Taking the time with a sincere effort to build relationships with the media will increase the opportunities to share your expertise with the outlets you value.
Sierra Hernandez lives in Riverside, CA. She obtained her BA in Communication from the University of Toledo. She spends her free time with loved ones, and loves to participate in social activism, especially for human rights and environmental concerns.