OK. Don’t hold me to the math. I’m an ex-journalist — genetically and experientially incapable of mastering numbers.
But words, words I know. And here’s a tip that’s served me well for decades when it comes to getting my message, or a client’s, not just into a journalist’s hands — but into that journalist’s outlet.
Today, right now, commit to combing through your contacts weekly to identify reporters, editors and producers you haven’t talked to in awhile — and talk to them. One a day, a couple a week, whatever makes sense for the depth and breadth of your contact list. You can literally talk to them — as in pick up the phone and speak real words the old-fashioned way — or email or text, which may be better for their schedules. But however you make contact, make sure that you do not, under any circumstances, pitch them anything.
Ask about their family. Shoot the bull about their favorite sports teams. Give them a chance to talk about their hobby passions. Just don’t mention a story you want them to cover.
The psychology here is simple: People need to be liked more than they like to be needed. If the only time your media sources hear from you is when you want some of their column inches or airtime, you’re treating them like a door to get through, not a person who’s worthy of your time and attention.
The key to this is, of course, sincerity. Truly begin to consider, if you don’t already, the journalists you rely on for coverage as people you want to get to know better. Then make the effort above to do just that. Some will indeed become friends. Some will develop into friendly professional relationships.
And all will be more inclined to not just listen, but act, when you do contact them with a pitch.
Try it and see.