At Adfactors PR, I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the renowned ex journalist Shishir Joshi, who has worked with leading media institutions like The Indian Express, Nagpur Times, Hitavada, CNN.com, NDTV, Aaj Tak and his last assignment was as a Group Editorial Director with MiD DAY. Shishir initiated an education initiative Journalism Mentor (www.journalismmentor.in) part of JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism. And is currently the CEO at Bombay First – an initiative now in its 20th year to make the city a better place to live, work and invest in. It aims to serve the city with the best that private business can offer.
- Build a Non-Transactional Relationship: To begin with, identify editors from select publications which matter the most to your clients. Know more about them, their current role, recent articles written by them, style of writing, about their previous stint, what they like, their hobbies etc. Then explore ways to build a relationship with them, you may get introduced to the editor through an influencer who might know him or meet him informally to discuss their interests, happenings in social, economic, sports fields. Don’t be artificial and compliment the editor on the recently written articles but be genuine, if you truly like an article send a personalized sms to the journalist and do not attach any strings of pitching your client.
- Attention to Detail: People or organisations are very sensitive towards their name; one should take the effort of not only remembering the correct name but should also pronounce it appropriately. This might not sound like a big deal, but it makes an impact when you would like to build a strong relationship.
- Research, Research, Research: Cannot emphasize on this aspect enough, firstly know the editor well, the kind of stories written by him, know your Client, its industry, controversies the client might be involved in and then engage with the editor. It is also important to know what’s happening in the socio-economic and political environment of the country and it also pays to have an understanding of the geo-political happenings. This is how you can have an engaging and a fruitful conversation with the editor and not be a mere middle-man for your client.
- Story Mapping: Map the story ideas based on an upcoming event, for example, IPL league which could be across various beats such as Corporate, Sports, Branding, Marketing, Crime beat etc., your client can comment on certain aspects and be a part of the select stories,. However you should map the other companies that could comment and participate in the other stories. This will definitely help to strengthen your relationship with the editors.
- Follow Up but Cautiously: PR pros consistently follow-up with the media through various communication modes: email, calls and even sms. The journalist receives over 100 calls in a day from PR pros and companies while him /her in the midst of completing a story. Please be cautious of when (specific time) and how (email/call/sms) you should be following up with them to avoid their apprehension against you.
- Negative Stories: Don’t ever promise to kill a story, set the expectations of your client right in the beginning. Even if you share a good rapport with an editor, never request him/her to stop the story just because it will be negatively toned towards your client. You should ensure that the company’s point of view is appropriately covered in the story.
- Ethics: Lastly but most importantly be ethical, do not offer gifts, vouchers, or any undue favours to any media person, this will damage the reputation of the consultancy in the long-run. Read the company’s policy to understand the rules and regulations followed by the company.
Lastly use your judgment in saying the right things at the right time. Learning is a journey, which never ends, and such halts help us to sit back and review our strategies and road map in ensuring that we don’t get lost in the way. The entire session was not only enriching but also brought in a lot of realization of the goof-ups we do while dealing the media. Thanks to Adfactors PR for organizing such insightful workshops.
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