Humanizing PR: Become a Face, Not an Email Address

public relations, PR, media relations

When I started my career as a reporter after college, I learned many new things – like how to write a compelling script, the importance of having a powerful image and how to be factual without losing the human side of the story. While all of that came in handy as I sat behind my desk, nothing compared to the value of building relationships with the people whose stories I was telling. Equally as important is building relationships with the people who could get me those fantastic stories … the PR professionals.

When I transitioned into PR, I took that approach to heart. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is to make sure reporters associate your pitch with you – not just your email address.

Here are my tips for humanizing your relationship with the media:

  • Get to know their work. I learned something called “Read & Reach” from a colleague in the industry. Spare 10-20 minutes a day to read the work of reporters; and then reach out.  Don’t pitch a topic or mention a client … just engage about the content. Make sure that your comments are compelling and not overly “fluffy.” Reporters can spot a fake compliment right away.
  • Get to know them (as much as you can). Personalization is key in this business, so add something unique that fits that specific reporter. Follow them on social media and read their bio. Referencing Twitter is a great way to understand a reporter’s likes and dislikes. Add one line to your pitch that separates that reporter from all others. It might not get you coverage right away, but it could help develop a relationship.
  • Use social media to your advantage. One great tool that we have in PR is social media. Twitter and LinkedIn will help you learn what reporters are covering and when. It’s also the easiest way to engage with someone you have never met. Not only does it show you are reading the content, it literally puts a face to a name. Just remember to keep it professional and confined to their work.
  • Pick up the phone. If you believe you have a great story to tell, pick up the phone and dial. The worst that can happen is a reporter telling you to email the information. Building trust with one reporter might earn you more placements than 1,000 cold pitches.
  • Meet them in person (if you can). This old-fashioned approach is still possible. If you are in their market, ask for 30 minutes to chat over coffee. You will find that a lot of young reporters are looking for a PR person they can trust, especially if they are new to the city, beat or just starting a career. You never know who you’ll meet or where it can take you.

Fernanda Horvath is an Account Executive at Linda Costa Communications Group.


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