A reporter’s best friend

April 4, 2013

We all recognize that media is changing and many of us are continually watching for trends and indicators for how best to work with this shapeshifter. The more things change, however, the more things stay the same.

Twitter, Facebook, Vocus, Sysomos, RowFeeder, Google news and other searchable online tools seem to have made it easier than ever to find the people who are generating news, connect with them, and track their coverage.

While it is true that information is easier to access, there is still no substitute for the hard work of building relationships. You can pull media or blogger lists from databases like Vocus or, in some places, local services (here is an example in Washington), but you still need to do the work of calling reporters, reading/listening/watching stories, and following outlets and journalists on social media.

To help get you started, here are six tips for getting to know reporters in a changing online world:

  • Set google alerts for issue areas AND reporters.
  • If you see a story where you could have provided expertise, call the reporter and introduce yourself. Let them know you saw the story and that you can be a resource if they cover the topic again.
  • Send reporters an ICYMI (in case you missed it) email if you see something that they might find interesting or relevant, even if it is not directly about your issue.
  • Comment on stories where relevant to help reporters and editors get to know you.
  • Re-tweet or otherwise share social media content, with your own perspective.
  • Write op-eds, letters to the editor, blogs, etc. so you can be seen as an expert.

Interaction with reporters should be a dialogue, not a monologue. No matter how much you know about a reporter, they still need to know a little about you too.

Holly Armstrong