In any industry, especially PR, one of the most important skills to develop is relationship building. First and foremost, your team needs to build a relationship with your clients. At 4M, we pride ourselves on the fact that we become a part of our clients’ team- “making it our business to know theirs.” By fully engrossing ourselves in our clients’ business, we are able to learn what key messages the client wants to deliver to their audiences as well as what ideas will be successful when planning a campaign.
Another critical relationship to build is with the media: journalists, freelancers, bloggers, etc. These are the people that you rely on to write about and share your clients’ news (and you want them to do it well and often). When building relationships with writers, it is imperative that you first start with research. Get to know the writer’s beat, what they are interested in, when they like to be pitched- ways to personalize any correspondence you have with them. Next, comes the pitch. If you have managed to successfully pique the reporter’s interest, you must follow up and answer their questions in a timely matter. Deadlines are not something to mess around with.
We have had great success in relationship building with both local and national reporters. One of our best examples is the relationship we’ve built with a freelancer at Realtor.com.
A reporter from Realtor.com was looking for an interior decorator or designer to comment on what the difference is between the two careers. We quickly got in touch with one of our interior decorator clients and sent their responses over right away. The writer liked what our client had to say and included their responses in her upcoming article. After that, the Realtor.com writer continued to contact us with queries for her upcoming home design articles. Since we have a wide array of interior design clients, we have been able to respond to many of her queries and become one of her trusted contacts. Creating this relationship has helped us to get many of our clients featured on a national website with over 50 million unique visitors per month it’s a win-win!
Rules to Remember when Relationship Building:
- Give the reporter what they want. Answer their query without trying to add in unnecessary information about your client.
- Be patient. There are times that writers email you with their query and do not respond right away. Give it some time and do not excessively follow up. They may have a longer deadline for this piece and could be working on other articles that require immediate attention.
- Let them know if you are not able to help them. If you are starting to build a relationship with a writer and they send you an upcoming article idea that is not the right fit for any clients, do not simply ignore them. Answer them and let them know that you’ll have to pass this time, but you look forward to working with them on future articles.
- ALWAYS say thank you. After the article is published, make sure that you let them know you saw it, appreciate their work and thank them for working together on the project. A little thank you goes a long way and may be the stepping off point for them to continue to reach out for upcoming articles.
- Share the articles on your social media accounts and your clients’. Not only do your clients want exposure, but the writer needs it too. The more people the article can reach the better.