I’ve written before about the importance of face-to-face contact in building media relationships, but it can’t hurt to point to another take on the subject from John Byrne, executive editor at BusinessWeek (via an article in PR newsletter Bulldog Reporter).
Among other takeaways, Byrne says:
“Build relationships, not media lists. Don’t think it’s a waste of time to build one-on-one personal relationships with us,” Byrne advises. “The best PR people are getting out there and meeting with us at events or during [desksides, instead of just using email]. They’ve found the rewards for doing this are extremely high. One way to build a strong relationship with a journalist—in person or otherwise—is to offer something exclusively. Too many people are doing the spam treatment these days. Story pitching really is just story spam now. Everybody plays the numbers game,” Byrne said.
One of my continuing goals with Food Fete is to help participants understand the importance of building media relationships, versus simply hoping their interaction with reporters will lead to a quick media hit. The fact is not everyone attending Food Fete will get covered. In reality, most won’t — at least in the near term. Timing, product uniqueness and a reporter’s personal interest will often determine that outcome.
But without the relationship (which comes into play when the editor IS ready to write about your product category), that instant gratification you seek immediately after a media event can be short lived. Personal encounters with reporters build the framework and sometimes serve as a catalyst for editors to understand where your product fits in and hopefully stands out.