PR Training

4 Steps to Take Media Relationships to the Next Level

In this post I share the secret weapon for cementing your future relationship with a journalist who has covered you once.

You want to turn this one-off win into a relationship that can pay off for you and for the influencer time and again. To do that, you need to understand their needs better, and they need more proof of the value you can offer them.

After the coverage, you should write a “non-thank-you note” expressing appreciation for the coverage without sounding like they did it for YOU. You can compliment them on one of the values journalists’ prize such as accuracy, depth or quality.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Ask for a phone chat. Journalists may prefer that communication stays over email or text, as phone calls be a time vacuum. But standing out in a journalist’s mind only comes if you make a PERSONAL impression of professionalism and savvy. Phone contact is much more personal than email. And they are most concerned about cold calls — a brief scheduled call is much different.
  2. Promise brevity. Be specific and prove that you get how busy they are by promising a firm time limit. Five minutes is a good starting point, up to 15 if they’ve been responsive while you worked on the previous story.
  3. Specify what you want them to know. Journalists don’t want to answer the question, “What would you like to hear about?” We should learn that from watching what they write or air. A good question to ask is “How is the changing media environment is affecting you personally?”
  4. Suggest a time slot. This creates a small sense of urgency and makes it more likely you’ll get the opportunity before they’ve moved on to other projects.

This won’t always yield a phone appointment, but often it does. You’ll be surprised what a deeper connection you’re able to make when you move your outreach from digital ephemera to a real human connection.

Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”. 


About the author

Michael Smart


  • This is a very insightful piece. These are four simple and memorable steps that could benefit every PR professional at some point. The idea of a “non-thank-you note” is helpful tip to remember when forming a mutually beneficial relationship with a journalist.

  • As someone who will be entering the workforce in a few short months, this piece is very helpful. It can be extremely difficult to keep professional relationships afloat but it is necessary in our field. Keeping a firm time limit is something I will keep in my back pocket.

  • As someone who will be entering the work force in a few short months, this piece is very insightful. It is very important to keep our professional relationships afloat in the PR world but sometimes can be difficult. Keeping a time limit when meeting with other professionals is something I will be sure to use!

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