Don’t schmooze, you lose

In the whirlwind world that is PR, creating and maintaining good relationships with media is vital for all account execs, like myself.

Not a day goes by when you are not arranging an exclusive press event, selling in a hard-hitting news story, or launching an innovative new product. The success of these often relies on the relationships you have built up with journalists. So, how do you it?

After recently attending a media event for one of our clients, I began thinking about the numerous benefits that come with meeting your key contacts face-to-face. Don’t get me wrong, picking up the phone or whizzing over an email has its benefits but, if you’re an account exec that wants to stand out from the crowd, nothing beats good old fashioned face-to-face communication. Here’s why:

  1. Be more than an email signature

Yes, it may say a lot about you, but your job title and extension number won’t make you memorable to media. If they’re able to put a face to a name, journalists may take the extra time to read your press release or answer your calls. This works the other way around too – if you are able to put a face to a journalist’s name it should make calling them much less alien or intimidating.

  1. Get personal

If you’re able to meet contacts and have candid conversations, try and remember a couple of small details about their lives, hobbies, or even pet peeves. Knowing that a key contact is writing a book in their spare time or getting married in three months’ time can really help you maintain a media relationship.

  1. You heard it here first

Taking the time to speak to journalists for longer than 30 seconds may result in you sourcing new opportunities for your clients. You never know what articles are in the pipeline, and if you are one of the first to know about a new product page, or ‘what’s on’ column, you will definitely have the edge on competitors.

Maybe a media event isn’t scheduled for your clients. If that’s the case, don’t let it prevent you from meeting key media contacts. There’s so many ways you can get yourself in front of journalists that only require a small amount of preparation:

  • Nip out for a coffee or lunch with locally based journalists
  • If you are based outside of London, make the most of meetings in the city to see journalists based there – maybe arrange to go for an after-work drink with them and get a slightly later train home instead
  • Go to other launch parties in your city and mingle with new people rather than sticking with your colleagues
  • Work with your manager to build in a day of media visits – if your client is launching something new a series of desk visits could help to generate great results

Happy schmoozing x

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