Building Trust with the Media

Jamie Lovegrove • September 24, 2021

Reporters these days are busy, and their inboxes are overflowing. I should know: I recently joined NP Strategy after years of covering South Carolina politics at The Post and Courier, the state’s largest newspaper.

As a result, rising above the deluge of press releases, internal discussions and general junk with a new story idea requires tact, relationship-building — and, of course, sometimes a bit of luck.

Here are a few tips to boost your odds:

  • Know what they cover. Ideally, you should be a regular, longtime reader of the reporter’s work, so you already know not just their beat but which specific topics within their beat interest them most. If you’re reaching out to someone you’re less familiar with, take the time to fully research their approach first.
  • Introduce yourself, ideally in person. Reporters are generally less likely to screen your calls or glaze over your emails if they can put a face to the name and have an existing (positive) relationship with you. Try to find time to grab coffee with them, and don’t make that initial meeting immediately transactional.
  • Prioritize and limit pitches. Just because you’ve now built up some goodwill with a reporter does not mean that it’s infinite. Do not start flooding them with every story idea of dubious news value or they will start lumping you in with every other inbox clutterer they routinely ignore.
  • Drop the jargon and meaningless clichés. The reporter is going to have to write their story in normal human English that an average reader could understand. Make it easier on them by explaining it in those terms from the outset.
  • When possible, pitch well in advance. Most reporters are not sitting around waiting for your call or email. They already have a lot on their plate and will only drop everything for major breaking news. If the pitch has a deadline, approach them as early as possible so they can plan to get to it later.
  • Consider the bigger picture. If the pitch doesn’t rise to the level of a standalone article, could it fit as one piece of a broader trend story?
  • Do not lie. The simplest and most important rule. Spin to your heart’s content, but a full fabrication will irrevocably ruin your reputation.
  • Turn to experts for help. The team at NP Strategy already knows the media landscape in the Carolinas and beyond. Reach out for guidance instead of plunging into unfamiliar waters.

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