As a fresh-faced cub reporter back in the late 1970s a sharp eye for a story and a jam-packed contacts book wee your two greatest assets.
Keeping those contacts ‘sweet’ depended on regular communication and an understanding that the relationship had to work both ways.
You got good stories for the paper and your contact got their message across. Easy? Not always.
Mistakes could be made and the finished product – if it even made it into the paper – could potentially damage the relationship.
I clearly recall returning home one day with a bottle of wine from one happy contact… and a severe verbal kicking still ringing in my ears from another.
If you are that contact, responding to a positive result – or a negative one – will determine how the relationship moves forward.
Certainly, if you’re happy, you’ll make the newspaper even happier by looking at ways to support their own business, through advertising in print or on the website.
Try to tie that advertising in with your editorial support, but never assume that having them in the paper on the same day works and forget having them placed close to each other.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you using the age-old commercial feature route – ad spend tied in with attached editorial – but your relationship with the editorial team ends up slightly different.
If things have gone wrong, the toys leaving your pram shouldn’t be expelled in a haphazard or emotional fashion. The mistake has been made and unless it’s irretrievable, turn the situation round to support your needs.
So bully in the nicest possible way to have it put right and encourage regular contact with the reporter in the future, but with no harassment!
Creating a mutually beneficial link between you and your business or organisation and the media depends on the regular contact you have and how you can help them help you.
So talk when it’s needed, but make life easy by supplying well-presented, breezy press releases on a regular basis.
By Neal Butterworth