There’s a right way and a wrong way to check in with writers and Katherine Swift gets it right. She only sends me pitches related to beats she knows I cover and she doesn't pepper me with them every other day. These smart check-ins mean I always read her pitches, and the strategy saves us all time because she doesn't bark up the wrong tree on client time. So I asked her to share some tips for anyone reaching out to the media.
How To Check in with Reporters (without driving them crazy)
In my job as in life, it always comes down to treating others with respect. It’s my job to build my clients’ brands and reputations via stellar media placements, and that’s where the ‘Margots’ (the media) of my life come in. Here are my thoughts on why and how I touch base with my media contacts and how it pays off in spades:
1. I’m so busy, aren’t you?
I don’t know one person in my life who doesn’t tell me they are so busy and there aren’t enough hours in the day, including my mom who is retired! (Don’t’ even get me started about that one.) One of the main reasons I check in with the media is that I know they are juggling crazy workloads and multiple projects with unreasonably short deadlines. So if I can assist my media contacts or save their day by getting a quote on short notice or getting my client to appear on their TV interview after someone dropped out at the last minute – it’s a win-win. [Another tip for not wasting reporters' time]
2. What comes around goes around.
It may sound elementary, but being nice pays off. Again, think about your life in general. Would you rather deal with a jerk or nice person? With the help of my fabulous clients, I pull a lot of rabbits out of my hat to help reporters and editors make those crazy deadlines. Well, guess what? The next time any of my media contacts needs an expert for an article in a client’s dream media outlet, they often call the person (me) who worked that magic for them the last time! [Another example of how this approach pays off]
3. You never know unless you ask.
Life is not a one-way street, especially when dealing with freelance writers whose beats may change often. So it behooves PR folks to ask, “What are you working on?”, “Do you still write beauty/career/branding stories?” or “Is there anything I can help you with?” Reporters beats often change and you may have a new client…and karma may just kick in! [Are you turning off reporters?]
Katherine Swift is a vice president at KCSA Strategic Communications in Boston.
- More of Katherine’s tips for working with the media
- Don't be this gal: How not to pitch
- Read this before responding to a HARO or Profnet query
- A strong pitch