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The proper way to stalk a journalist

First off the title of this post was meant to get attention, I only mean stalking in it’s most polite form of course.

You know you need to get your story told in the media, but you can’t seem to get anyone interested. The problem is you need to look at journalists as a target market – you need to get them to know, like and trust you just like you would a customer.

Now, would you send a customer a one page flyer and then follow-up with a phone call asking them when they planned to write a story about your company, I mean buy from you. No, of course not.

Here’s how you get journalists to know, like and trust you.

  1. Build a list of journalists that you think might care your story.
  2. Read everything they write (use a Google News search by their name and subscribe to the email alert or RSS feed – you can follow a lot of journalists this way.)
  3. Find their blog and subscribe to, comment on and write relevant trackbacks to it. (Most journalists have one now)
  4. Set up a routine of sending relevant content to them that is related to articles they right.
  5. Don’t push for any stories (unless they are truly news) until you’ve done this for weeks

Here’s the thing, if you can prove yourself a reliable resource for a journalist you will be looked upon as a friend, until then, you’re just a pest to an overworked, often underpaid, reporter.

By following what a journalist writes you will often find clues to the kinds of things they really care about, how you might pitch them and what they might write about in the future. I read an article by a journalist that I was following that stated he just started using Facebook. I connected with him through Facebook and the next you know I had scheduled an interview. My guess is that he would have ignored an email directly from me.

So, it takes a little work to earn media mentions, but it can be well worth the time spent.

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  • http://www.stopwatchmarketing.com John Rosen

    Thanks! I have my own book coming out in February. If this straegy works, I’ll be sure to credit you in the second edition!

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  • http://www.bizzuka.com Paul Chaney

    Talk about great link bait, stalking journalists. Yea, I’m going to Digg this one for sure.

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  • http://www.kribaby.com Krista Neher

    Great post! Relationship building is important not just with typical journalists, but with bloggers too. “Marketing” is just as much about old-school sales as it is about advertising and press releases. Now, instead of taking influencers to sporting events and fancy dinners you build the relationship and show some love online….the world is-a-changin’.

  • http://www.AureliusTjin.com Aurelius Tjin

    I’d agree with that. It can look time consuming but I’m betting its gonna be worth your while.

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  • http://www.three-forty.com Rick Loughery

    Very true. I believe this (being a resource) is a key part to our job. And is something that can be easily overlooked (especially when times are busy). There have been numerous times over my career that I have connected reporters with resources who are not my client. While it is definitely pleasing to see a client covered, it is also very gratifying just to know you helped to contribute to a story.

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  • http://tinkutales.blogspot.com tinku gallery

    Any suggestions on what to do if the journalists don’t blog or post their contact information in their online articles?

  • worn out hack

    As a journalist can I add – read the journo's publication, work out how they write, write a press release the same way they do in pyramid style (important facts at the top, cuttable dross lower down, at the bottom put in all relevant detail so they don't have to call you (how old are you, are you married, whats your full name, which street in which town are you from)
    Put your phone number in.
    Email it in a word pad document. (we don't care about your clever typesetting skills, and theres every possibility our cheapskate employer won't pay for the latest version of Word. Chances of us having a more obscure WP program are even thinner. We just want it properly spelled)
    Add a good quality colour photograph in a moderately high res (500-1000kb is ok) as a seperate jpeg attachment.

    Limit the press release to 400 words.

    Chances are if you do this we'll cut and paste it without even reading it properly…

  • worn out hack

    As a journalist can I add – read the journo's publication, work out how they write, write a press release the same way they do in pyramid style (important facts at the top, cuttable dross lower down, at the bottom put in all relevant detail so they don't have to call you (how old are you, are you married, whats your full name, which street in which town are you from)
    Put your phone number in.
    Email it in a word pad document. (we don't care about your clever typesetting skills, and theres every possibility our cheapskate employer won't pay for the latest version of Word. Chances of us having a more obscure WP program are even thinner. We just want it properly spelled)
    Add a good quality colour photograph in a moderately high res (500-1000kb is ok) as a seperate jpeg attachment.

    Limit the press release to 400 words.

    Chances are if you do this we'll cut and paste it without even reading it properly…