5 ways to keep yourself off journalists’ naughty list

“He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice…”

On the 6th day of MediaHQ’s 12 days of Christmas, we present you with five ways to keep yourself off a journalist’s blacklist.

As a public relations professional wanting to get a story covered by a journalist, there is a fine line between impressing a media professional and straight out annoying them. Public relation professionals see a successful relationship with journalists as a strategy to a happy client. This means that it is of their best interest to keep journalists satisfied as a lack of knowledge in the media can annoy journalists. Of course, every PR company and individual want their story to be front and centre.

Whether it’s the cover of the newspaper, radio or website you must first build a strong professional relationship with journalists and avoid irritating them. Here at MediaHQ, we are here to help you do just that.

Lying is a big no

When building a healthy firm relationship, trust is by far the main ingredient. Trust takes years to build and only seconds to destroy. This why it is crucial to understand that trust is a fragile thing and will break when misused. As a public relations professional it goes without saying, you must not lie to a journalist. If you lie to a journalist about pitching to another journalist you may be blacklisted or in light of the Christmas season, naughty listed. Even when implications arise you need to be upfront and honest about it. If you are pitching the idea to two competing journalists in the same field this can be detrimental. Losing the trust of one journalist for lying is awful but losing two is twice as damaging for your reputation and business.


Keep it personal

Do not be known as that person who CC’ed an email along with 60 others. This will only tarnish your company’s reputation and label you as careless. You need to build a strong relationship with journalists in order for them to work with you and personalisation is the way to go! Chose individual communication as opposed to sending out a pile of emails. Journalists tend to be short tempered when being bombarded by calls and emails, especially ones that aren’t specific to them. Remember it’s quality, not quantity. Here at MediaHQ our database allows you to, by the click of one button, find the first name of a journalist you want to contact adding that individual quality to an email. Trust me, it is worth it when your pitch stands out from the rest.


Deadline, deadline, deadline

As you know journalists are a group of very busy people confined to a tight schedule. They are far from flexible which is why a co-op relationship is required between you and the journalist. It is important to understand that once a journalist sets a deadline you also have the same deadline to uphold. It can be difficult for journalists to reschedule which is why you should not annoy them further by overly contacting them after missing the deadline or your pitch will be unflavoured. Trust me, nobody wants that.


Why are you shouting?

You should always let the story speak for itself. If you want to grasp the attention of the journalist don’t shout. Avoid capital letters and exclamation marks when typing. A sharp subject line should do the job to catch the attention of the journalist. Keep it tidy and competent. Remember overuse of capital letters and exclamation marks roar unprofessional.


Calm, they got your email

It is important to accept that, yes, the journalist got your email and it is also as equally important to realise that they got it along with 60 other emails. Respect their profession and try put yourself in their shoes. They have a hectic calendar and a chaotic timetable. Your email is not the first thing on their mind. You must understand which times they are at their busiest and when suits to call. Try not to contact them first thing in the morning. You may think this is a clever idea, the early bird catches the worm but this is almost peak time for journalists. They are powering through the breaking news that occurred during the night and unnecessary disruptions are pointless at such a time.