Working in PR is very much a people job. Not only do we interact with our colleagues and clients on a daily basis, we are also in constant contact with journalists. This means it is important to invest time into building those relationships and in particular, the PR / journalist one can be a tough nut to crack.
PR professionals should understand how each individual journalist works. Knowing exactly what kind of stories they look for and when they need them is vital. Once a journalist knows that you understand them and don’t just send them any old press release, it will help to build a solid foundation, which in turn will make it much easier to pitch stories to them in the future. It may even open the door to suggesting a feature or sounding out an idea.
Another way to build a good relationship with a journalist is to try and meet them face-to-face. It sounds obvious, but in the busy world we live in, pitching is often done over the phone or by email and most client/journalist briefings are conducted over the phone rather than in person.
One way to meet journalists in person (other than arranging as many face-to-face client briefings as possible!) is to make the effort to go to social events. For example, a little while ago, online technology publication V3 held the launch party of its 2012 awards on a Tuesday evening in London and invited PRs to attend. I went to this particular event and as well as finding out everything I needed to know about the awards, it gave me invaluable time to simply chat to the journalists and find out more about them as individuals. This has greatly improved my relationships with them and as a result we have arranged some social drinks for later on in the year that the rest of the PR team can get involved with and hopefully benefit from as well.