This week on #bufferchat, we discussed best practices for working with the media, from how to build positive relationships with reporters, to interview tips, to creative ideas for getting press mentions, and much more!

Read on to discover all of the awesome insights that were shared during the chat, from our community and from our guest this week, Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Magazine!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and to meet hundreds of other smart marketers and social media enthusiasts. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

4 pm AEST (Sydney time)

9 am PT (San Francisco time)

Bufferchat on May 24, 2017 (Topic = Working with the Media)

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 25 participants; 118 tweets; reach of 1,051,170
2nd Bufferchat: 98 participants; 746 tweets; reach of 1,337,820

Q1: How can you kick off a new relationship with a reporter?

From Ramon:

  • New relationships start with trust and likability. My best have started in person with a smile and handshake. Email and tweets are nice but most reporters are so overwhelmed – everyone likes a genuine smile and helpfulness.
  • I’ve also found that just commenting (genuinely) and participating in their world for a few weeks helps. Be sure to fully understand what the reporter/blogger covers and likes – don’t share cat memes with dog lovers.
  • Flattery – does it work? I do think it can work – we all like to be appreciated – so “flattery” can work if done well. 🙂
  • My best relationships have started when I’ve met a reporter at an event.
  • Remember – reporters can’t do their job without a “story” – your job is to make the connection.

From the community:

  • “As someone who worked in media, impersonal unrelated emails never work. Find a genuine connection between their work & yours.” @MadFishDigital
  • “I’ve always found it’s similar to any other relationship I’ve developed over time. Be authentic, be kind and provide value.” @ten26media
  • “Like most relationships, helping. When you can make their job easier, they’ll often reach out to you in the future.” @ItsJeffHiggins

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What are strategies for pitching reporters on your story and making your product/service stand out?

From Ramon:

  • When using email, the subject line of the email is so important. Reporters are flooded with email — you must make yours stand out. What unique angle can your product or service have to capture the reporter’s interest?
  • Also try to not pitch — but just be a resource and an asset. That works in the long run all day. Producers (ie TV) and Editors (print) are busy — the more you make it EASY for them the better.
  • Speak in the “language” of the reporter and their audience — NOT in how YOU want to communicate.
  • Very important — your impression and pitch often have started with your public digital image. When a reporter types in your name / your brand, what comes up?
  • Shhh — video is my number one secret to getting the media I’ve gotten (and more….!). Video is legit.
  • I often tell reporters that even if you don’t want to quote me, just call to get clarity or fact check.

From the community:

  • “Remember that your passion about your product/service doesn’t mean it’s newsworthy, and reporters pitch to higher-ups.” @kathryndlewis
  • “Don’t write 1 email and blast it to all of your reporter contacts. It’s about relationship building — personalize!” @RivalIQ
  • “Having a clear idea of a reporter’s niche in the community should give you a leg up. Make the reporter a hero, somehow.” @ideabloke

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What are creative ways to get positive press mentions about your products/services?

From Ramon:

  • Some times you must put aside fear to get the most attention.
  • For TV you must have a product that catches the eye and is TV ready….!
  • Is your product a “utility”? (i.e. ) Does it provide value that a reporter will want to mention? Is it cool? hop? hot? on fire? desired? useful?
  • There IS a fine line between persistence and annoyance.
  • How did I get my interview with President Obama? By getting highly creative about my question.
  • If you talk in “industry babble”, you’re often not going to get quoted.
  • Show your own personality as well — people to people gets noticed. Be personable and look interesting.

From the community:

  • “Market it uniquely. Tell people-driven stories. Connect with micro/influencers. Share videos, make it funny.” @EricSachs_SEO
  • “Focus on providing the best customer experience. Your customers = influencers, so you want word of mouth to be positive!” @MyCorporation
  • “Embrace your product/service failures; don’t run from them. Fix the failure and then tell your story.” @ideakid88

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: What are best practices when being interviewed by a reporter?

From Ramon:

  • Be sure to know the show format and/or what the reporter wants = critical. If you’re on a live TV 3-minute segment, get those sound bites DOWN. If you’re on a 60-minute podcast, be ready to share in depth.
  • If you’re being interviewed for a round up piece, you also ask how you can best help the reporter.
  • Plugging your product is a rookie mistake and a short play. You are NOT plugging your product on most media interviews, you are EDUCATING the reporter’s audience. Remember — most of the time it’s a conversation, not a speech. Relax and be alert.
  • Tell a STORY, be personal, engage your audience, be real.
  • Using stats (no fake news) that back up what you’re saying is important.
  • Don’t make the reporter look like an idiot — educate them, but nicely.
  • I highly encourage everyone to get some sort of “media” training — it will help a lot.
  • Good practice for being interviewed is also for you to interview people A good interviewer is a great interviewee.

From the community:

  • “Don’t be a robot or speak like a robot. Be excited and enthusiastic, a lot of inflection goes a long way on camera/radio.” @nancycasanova
  • “As an interviewer, I want genuineness. What’s the real story? Be true to yourself and your topic. Those words shine through.” @Renoe
  • “Make it easy for reporters to interpret your message. State your main point, and give examples. Don’t talk aimlessly.” @brynhafemeister

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: How do you handle times when a reporter isn’t interested in your story?

From Ramon:

  • My wife was not interested in me at first — we’re now on 23 years of marriage.
  • No interest can mean many things — keep following up and tweak your pitch, but always be human.
  • I’ve found that many signs of “no interest” were really just “busy”, so my follow up eventually helped. It’s also critical to keep following up — not always on the same pitch but “pitching” is a journey… a long one.
  • Sometimes you might not get an answer. Reporters are SO overwhelmed they often can’t reply ;(
  • By having relationships with a handful of reporters, you’re able to get nice traction and get an answer.
  • Twitter is a great way to gently poke reporters and keep your “name” in front of them.

From the community:

  • “They’re a business, too…try to view how you can make your product more interesting to THEIR viewers.” @shop_mtb
  • “Don’t push it. You’ll want to maintain that relationship when you DO have a story they’re interested in.” @JuiceboxCA
  • “Let it be, don’t bombard your reporter and ruin a connection! Learn from it, and craft a better pitch for the next one.” @WHATITISJAACKIE

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: What are things you can do to maintain positive relationships with the media?

From Ramon:

  • I’ve found that being GENUINE is the best way to keep a good relationship.
  • Do not be a pest. Do not annoy. Be genuine. Be patient — it’s like dating.
  • A relationship is about shared goals, periodicity and honesty — reporters are no different.
  • Indeed, events are the biggest way I’ve found to get press attention. My first big event was in 2006. I’ve had MEDIA every year – NOT easy – but works. Doing an event can get you some big media attention, if you do the event right.

From the community:

  • “Congratulate reporters/writers when they publish something great (even if unrelated to you). Flattery goes a long way.” @martinlieberman
  • “I’m a believer that ANY & ALL relationships are a 2-way street. Be gracious, respectful, and remain curious of their work.” @kaitlynuy_
  • “Be open, responsive and truthful with the media. Become a trusted, reliable source of information.” @JKatzaman

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: What are great resources for learning more about working with the media?

From Ramon:

  • HOT TIP — Looking at a video (or audio) of yourself will help make you a better communicator, indeed!
  • HARO is legit indeed — sometimes overwhelming, but it does work.
  • Baby Got Booked is legit — great resource for media ins and outs.
  • Cheat sheet for media attention: The Power of PR.
  • Here is my 33-page slide share on Media Attention.

From the community:

  • on Tuesdays is all about PR, including working with the media.” @JeremyDBond
  • “Stop thinking of media as a conglomerate. Treat those you work with as people, and understand that you need to provide value.” @MadFishDigital
  • “Read medium and LinkedIn articles by PR and agency folks. Follow them on Social media. Practise what your learnt from them.” @moulidorai

See all the great answers to question 7 here!


Thank you so much to Ramon and to everyone who shared their advice in this chat!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

Looking for a better way to share on social media?

Schedule, publish & analyze your posts across the top social networks, all in one place.

Start a 14-Day Free Trial
Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!