Ideas for Getting to Know Reporters

Two things we know are true when working with the media: Personally knowing the reporter is important to getting attention to your story idea, and journalists are very busy people who have little time to meet every potential source that wants their attention.

So if lunches and newsroom visits are too time-consuming and no longer ideal ways to meet and greet with reporters, how can you make that crucial introduction? Here are some ideas that take up little time but could leave a big impression on journalists.

1. Send an e-mail complimenting their work on a story. The e-mail addresses for most reporters are now frequently printed with bylines or with a story published on their Web site. A quick message saying you liked their article can stick out among the dozens of irrelevant press releases, newsletters and other junk e-mail received daily.

2. Introduce yourself at an event where a reporter is working. Reporting can often be a game of “hurry up and wait.” If you are at a town hall meeting, school board session or any other event where you see a reporter hanging out, waiting for something to report, go ahead and make an introduction. Start up a conversation, and you’ll not only alleviate the reporter’s boredom, but you may be able to swap business cards.
Write a thank you note…using pen and paper. If you had the chance to work with a reporter on a story, send a thank you card the old-fashioned way. Avoid sending any gifts though-it’s an ethical consideration for both of you.

3. Read the bios and find a common interest. Television reporters, bloggers and columnists often have a personal biography included on their outlet’s Web site. Take time to read over the bios and look for a personal connection with the journalist. Maybe you both went to the same college or have a similar hobby. It’s okay to use that information to start up a friendly conversation, visit to know more.

4. Say hello to new staff. If you find out a new reporter or editor has joined the staff, use that opportunity to help build up his or her Rolodex. New reporters-whether they have started their first job or just moved to the area-are in need of establishing a set of sources and finding new story ideas. This also works well when you see a new writer covering a beat you are following, such as health care. Send an e-mail welcoming the new writer and introducing yourself.

5. Offer good stories, even if they are not necessarily about the PEC. If you know of someone or something that is newsworthy, give a reporter a call or send a brief e-mail to let them know. Even if it’s not related to psychology, the reporter will appreciate the good story idea, and possibly remember you when you do have a PEC-related story to offer.

Have you tried any other ways to meet reporters and become their relied upon source? Let us know!

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