As a PR professional, perhaps the most important lesson of your career is: relationships are key when working with the media. While this may appear to be a simple and to-the-point concept, PR pros and clients alike sabotage relationships with reporters all the time–usually without even realizing it.
To help professionals identify toxic behavior before it’s too late, here are four ways you might be unintentionally sabotaging your relationship with media:
- You’re unresponsive to requests or take too long to confirm interview times: It is no small feat to capture a reporter’s attention with your news, so when they show interest in what you’re pitching, the last thing you should do is ignore requests for additional information or interviews. Time and again, I have seen clients and fellow PR pros wait days to respond to a reporter with a time that works for an interview, or flat-out ignore a reporter’s request for more information. Regardless of the reasoning behind this behavior, it is both detrimental to your success and is debilitating to a reporter who is trying to gather information for a story.
- You expect media to cater to your schedule: While promptly responding to interview requests is crucial to maintaining relationships with media, it is also important to be flexible when scheduling an interview. A surefire way to frustrate someone who is writing multiple articles and meeting dozens of deadlines a week is to refuse to work with him or her on finding a time to talk that works well with both of your schedules–not just yours. Remember, a reporter is not obligated to publish a story on your company or initiative, and you should be doing everything in your power to make sure he or she has all the information that is needed.
- You can’t (or won’t) deliver on your promises: As someone who speaks with the media on a daily basis, I can say from experience that there is nothing more uncomfortable than having to cancel an interview, retract a statement, or not deliver previously promised information to a reporter. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, it is also unprofessional and can give the impression that you are not a reliable source for future stories and opportunities. Every interaction you have with a reporter is your chance to make a statement about the kind of company and/or PR professional you are–don’t sabotage yourself by failing to hold up your end of a pitch.
- You spam reporters with too many announcements or story ideas that are not newsworthy: While every company update feels (and is) important to someone within your organization, it is vital that the person in charge of your media relations asks if your announcement is actually important to media and other outside parties. If you constantly spam reporters with information that is unlikely to make it into the news cycle, you run the risk of appearing incapable of delivering real stories of interest.
Maintaining relationships with reporters is similar to maintaining any other relationship in your life–it takes a certain amount of mutual respect, honesty and effort to keep the relationship healthy and beneficial for both parties. If you strive to do this with every one of your media contacts, you will never have to worry about sabotaging your professional relationships.