What journalists really want

Posted: Tuesday October 30 2018

By: Katie Mallinson

Journalists can be a tough bunch to crack, so you may be asking how you can possibly know what types of content they want, without being a mind reader?

What journalists really want

Here are a few tips to help you to gain favour with journalists, and ensure that your communication stands out from the rest…

Email

Sometimes it may seem easier to just pick up the phone and give someone a call – and in some cases journalists wouldn’t mind this. However, more often than not they are extremely busy on deadlines, and may simply not have the time to chat with you, which instantly puts you on the back foot. Used effectively, email is a medium that allows you to deliver an entire story in a single concisely message, providing a journalist with everything they need to know in one place.

Concise

Getting straight to the point is crucial. A journalist is typically sent hundreds of emails on a daily basis, usually by PR professionals, who believe they have an interesting piece of news. So, your opening sentence needs to focus solely on your story and why it is newsworthy. It has to grab their attention instantly, as they don’t have time for reading lengthy introductions.

Relevance

It’s important to consider why your article or idea is relevant to a particular journalist. It may be that you are targeting regional business titles – if so make it clear who the story is about and where they are based. Try asking yourself, why should they cover it? What’s in it for the reader? This can help you make it as fitting as possible for the publication in question, and answer any queries before they’re raised.

Speed

Journalists have deadlines which in turn impose time constraints on you – that can be difficult to fulfil if you have other personnel involved in the approvals process. Work hard to consistently deliver content on time, and journalists will soon come to appreciate your reliability.

Pictures

When issuing a news story to a publication, it should never be sent without an image. For online titles in particular, it is unlikely that your article will be used without one, so even if it is a generic stock photo you have found online, it is worth sending.

In all honesty, building a good relationship with a journalist can take a long time, but it is undoubtedly worth it. Each has their own preferences, so if you become accustomed to some of the things they like – whether it be a particular type of article or writing style – and ensure you provide what they are looking for, they will hopefully return the favour by running your releases.

And, once the foundations of a good working relationship are in place, they may even start approaching you for features, comments or interviews – the relationship can work both ways!

Good luck!

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