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7 ways to be every editor's favourite PR person

Nada Giuffrida, digital PR specialist at Hallam Internet, provides some effective tips for digital PR professionals to help them become more liked and valued by journalists and editors alike

'Work hard and be extra nice to people' is a great mantra for any PR professional liaising daily with the media. It reminds us how valuable traits like diligence and kindness are in the professional workplace. 

I’ve put together some effective tips for Digital PR professionals to help them become more liked and valued by journalists and editors alike.

It’s not an easy process, because the relationship between editors and PR professionals demands a lot of diplomacy and the ability to understand the media’s needs. These seven tips should help you to get started.

1. Remember that your media contacts are not your best friends

You and your friends are one thing. Editors are another. Every good professional relationship benefits from a healthy culture, but don’t liken it to the intensity and obligation that comes with the word “friends.” This doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, but try not to over-familiarise yourself.

Media culture needed a reboot from the old-fashioned 1980s ‘lunching with editors’ years. Budgets are not there anymore, and with the digital revolution, everything is happening much faster. There’s no time to waste lunching and schmoozing when you can communicate the same message with a video, skype, tweet or blog-post. Of course some networking is good and can be beneficial to both parties, but too much ‘friendliness’ and ‘request for a press meeting’ in 2016 can actually make working relationships more difficult.

2. Don’t try to be the coolest kid on the block

Appearing too authoritative about a subject with an industry expert editor can be a hard act to maintain. While there are any number of ways to distinguish yourself as a reliable professional digital PR leader, be prepared to confess if you need extra time to learn about a subject, an issue, or an industry. Also, exhibiting relentless enthusiasm is good but people can smell fakes. Don’t fall into that trap. Let these relationships develop naturally.

3. Send out freebies

Free stuff opens doors, sometimes even moves mountains. Let’s face it: people like free gifts and the people who give them, so take advantage of the opportunity to be a source of generosity, no matter how small. Even if in the majority of cases editors are spoiled for choice when receiving freebies, an unexpected one can really make you stand out among all the other PR specialists who are vying for their attention.  

4. Invite and embrace feedback, even criticism if needed

PR people routinely experience doors slammed in their face, no replies and no calls returned. So why not implement an environment that welcomes constructive feedback? Give your media contacts a format for addressing issues you may otherwise be too timid to ask. Just a quick email to say “I thought you liked the piece I sent you last week. Is there any reason why it was not used in the end?” You might be surprised by the outcome. You may find that the reporter had included it but the editor’s final choice was to delete it. Or perhaps they postponed the publishing date to a few months down the line and you assumed (never assume!) that your hard work was rejected.

5. Don’t give them ‘War & Peace’

As a professional Digital PR specialist, you have the ability to choose your degree of visibility. There’s a happy medium to be struck here: in your email communication, give them just enough to understand your pitch in a tangible way and quickly, but be brief enough that they can’t find anything to dislike. Use Twitter to learn their likes and dislikes, and use this intelligence to your advantage. Carefully regulate your professional presence, and also pay close attention to the tone of your interactions.  

6. Use competitors’ titles as motivators

If you have notice a similar title using a very big story, use that to get their attention. Tell your editor what you’ve read in another title. This may enhance your editor’s competitive edge by embracing their killer instinct and desire to covering a similar current story, join the bandwagon or perhaps get a slice of the cake by interviewing another firm (that is, your client).  

7. Apologise for any mistakes

We are not robots. Errors and small mistakes may happen from time to time but apologies are powerful and carry a sense of integrity and warmth. Make sure you construct your apology timely and sincerely. This is important for PR professional dealing with corporate crises and it is becoming more vital for most PR comms due to the rise of all things digital and the public harassment some brands are subjected to on social media tools. Be prepared for the worse so that you can enjoy a calmer ride. 

These are just a handful of my favourite tips when liaising with editors. Have you come across other effective ones that haven't made it onto this list? If so, I would love to hear from you. Leave your suggestions or comments below.