• Build good relationships with journalists
The best way of ensuring the co-operation of journalists is to establish a relationship of trust based on mutual respect. There is no point in contacting them constantly for the least reason, or swamping them with too much documentation. On the other hand, keep them informed when you have genuine news to impart.
Cultivate key contacts. If you believe that a story appearing on a particular programme or in a particular newspaper or magazine would be an ideal means of advancing your cause – because of its topical or geographical coverage, or its particular editorial approach – offer an exclusive. This could simply be in the form of a telephone interview, or might include a visit to your premises or a face-to-face meeting with a senior figure. But be sparing with this tactic, as its overuse may alienate other journalists.
Adopt these common-sense measures:
- Be proactive
Do not wait for journalists to contact you. Go to them and anticipate their needs by drawing their attention to key events and particularly interesting developments.
- Make yourself available
When journalists are looking for information, they want to obtain it quickly – perhaps for the next day's article or programme. Respond as rapidly as possible, and never leave a question unanswered. If you are unable to react in time, take the trouble to call or email explaining the reason.
- Be a conduit
When you are not able answer journalists' questions, try to refer them to someone in the project group who can. Warn the nominated person to expect a call – and provide any relevant information that will help them to prepare/avoid mixed messages.