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How PR professionals build relationships with reporters

Updated: May 11, 2021

A relationship with a reporter doesn’t guarantee your story will be picked up, but it’s a good start.

Multiple collaborations with a reporter build trust and expand your network with connections that can help you pivot to other reporters when you’re in tough jams for news coverage.

So how do you build effective media relations? What makes a reporter's job easier and get your stories published? And how do you navigate stressful pitches and collaborations without burning bridges?

Mind Meld PR Founder Jonathon Narvey sat down with BetaKit's Editor-in-Chief, Douglas Soltys, to discuss how companies can build and cultivate win-win relationships with reporters.

Here’s a recap of #15 of the Mind Meld PR vlog series, with extra insights on building relationships with reporters.


JN: Today with me, I have Douglas Soltys, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of BetaKit. This is kind of the perfect topic for us: how to build a relationship with a reporter. But before we get into our main chat, could you let the audience know, what's your deal? What's your origin story? How did you become the expert in this?

DS: Yeah, honestly I think sometimes these origin stories are pretty useless. But I think mine is going to apply directly to our topic today. Some of the advice that we're going to talk about isn't just coming from me being a tech journalist, but also from being on the other side. For the last 15 years, I've either been working for tech companies in some sort of marketing or communications capacity, or writing about tech companies as a journalist in Canada. So I can speak to both sides to help people to understand the dynamics and the relationships in a way that they probably don't have access to previously.

JN: Fantastic, fantastic. Full disclosure, I used to work with BetaKit. And, if I recall correctly, I was either a senior editor or a senior West Coast editor, something like that.

DS: I think we called you our West Coast Desk Editor.

JN: I was working in Silicon Valley North (aka Vancouver, BC), talking about the, at the time, somewhat underreported tech scene. It’s grown a lot since then. But the point of this was to say you were my boss.

DS: Yes, well, it was more like a very friendly relationship...and then sometimes you wrote things for us. It's a great rapport to have with a writer, especially working remotely.

JN: Yeah. And I look back fondly on those days, I had a blast writing for BetaKit. And, all that writing about the tech sector, interviewing tech CEOs and learning about the leading-edge technologies that were out there, it's not a coincidence that I'm doing tech PR today.

DS: You are directly responsible for one of our most popular articles of all time, which got picked up around the world and was even referenced on CNN in Brazil. And I only know this because I had a friend in the country at the time who messaged me to say, “Hey, I think they just mentioned BetaKit on TV in Portuguese.” It was your interview with the former Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, speaking at Launch Academy. That sucker blew up around the world.

JN: That article was an extraordinary unveiling by that particular CEO. I didn't actually have the one-on-one interview, he was speaking to a crowd and I was recording his statements. Yeah. And I couldn't believe he blurted out “Yeah, we're just losing a billion dollars a year in China every year.”

So, some people think that a relationship with a reporter will open all doors instantly. It will unlock all possible opportunities for companies to tell their story. So, if you've got a relationship with a reporter, if you are friends with them, will your pitch land 100% of the time? No.

DS: Not true at all. In fact, I love that we started off just talking about our relationship. And then we can now transfer into talking about how often you pitch us things that we never write about. People watching this might be incredibly surprised to hear that not everything pitched by a company or PR firm gets written about. The majority of things pitched don't get written.

JN: As a purely defensive measure, I'm going to say yes, I agree with those stats. It's not just a low percentage for my particular agency. I've often said that a pre-existing relationship with a reporter who's covering your niche, who has seen your stuff, might recognize your email when you pitch them, and it's 99% of the time you're pitching it via email, or at least that's what we do initially.

When you pitch them, a relationship gives you an extra five seconds. They will scan that subject line just a little bit harder. They will maybe read an extra paragraph into your intro just to be sure. But of course, the story has to be a good fit for that day for that time. Well, why don't you talk about that?

DS: Yeah, I would say you're right, the relationship and recognizing your name is one, and then having a familiar association with that name goes far in terms of anyone prioritizing their inboxes. It also might give us a little bit more time either reading your content or committing to reading it in priority when compared to other random people.

I even think just stepping back to this idea of the assumption of the value of the relationship versus all the other things that you need to do to make sure that you're forming the right relationships with reporters. Just because you have a relationship with a journalist, doesn't mean it's the right journalist for your outcomes.

So who should you be forming relationships with? What should you be presenting them with? I think these are all important things that we can kind of dig into in this conversation. Maybe we can draw clear lines of demarcation between the value and the expectations of each.

JN: I'm so glad you brought that up. Because that leads me to something that I love about what you've done in the past, and some other reporters have done. And they will say, “Look, Jonathan, I see this story has legs, but it's not quite right for what I'm working on this week or this month. But let me tell you, I'm friends with this other reporter. And he was just talking about this very thing. You should reach out to this person.” This may actually be someone else involved with that particular publication or may actually work for another publication. Reporters know reporters.

DS: I think that is the perfect indication of the value of a relationship. And it's only through the value of that relationship whereby you are getting a pivot or repositioning to actually get you where you want to be. In this case, it’s to a reporter or publication that is actually interested in information and wants to write about it.

I think the easiest way for people not in the communications space to understand what we're talking about is to think about it as customer profiling. Think about it as sales. You need to profile not only the reporters, but the publications and the audiences you want to reach in exactly the same way you do your target customer, your pricing tiers, or your product offerings.

And if you fail to do that, you are just stumbling around blind in the dark or maybe hiring a communications professional and hoping that they can somehow stumble around in the dark, slightly better on your behalf. You haven't done the work to figure out what moves the needle. Whether you're trying to get news out that appeals to your target customer, or trying to get news out that actually appeals to your investors. Are you trying to get information out that will look really cool from a recruiting standpoint? We hear that all the time related to BetaKit stories.

Given all that, what publications do those people read? What did those publications write about? Who's the reporter that will be interested in your company in relation to that? I think often times, and John I know you could probably speak to this more than anyone, you got a lot of people coming to you assuming that you can solve all of those problems on their behalf, as long as they pay you money. And that really isn't the case. You can solve some of them of course!

JN: Yes! There’s a saying I’ve started using recently: “Money solves all problems.” And, you know, take that as you will but certainly more effort can maybe get results.

I love what you're saying about making sure you're targeting the right person in the right publication and how akin this is to a sales process. And that's what I'm thinking about. When I'm pitching reporters, whether I know them or not, I'm looking for a win-win. Or even a win-win-win. Is the story something that's interesting to the reporter? Is it interesting to their readers? And of course, is my client going to be happy that this is the story that got out there.

It's not about spoon-feeding journalists the exact messaging and treating them like a stenographer. It's getting a feel for what they care about or are interested in. A lot of journalists are in this business because they have certain things that they are super passionate about, and want to write about. They have stories that they want to tell they're just looking for the vehicle through which they can channel the kind of message they actually want to get out as a writer and a journalist?

It's about targeting someone who, if you're targeting them in a sales-oriented manner, and trying to get that win-win.

DS: Yeah, and I would think that most journalists and comms professionals would probably look at me saying that with disgust because they don't consider their work that way. Journalists might say what we've been articulating in a different way. Not in terms of win-win-wins, they're more like, “Hey, man, I don't write about this stuff. I wrote this. This is what I care about. This is what my readers care about. Why are you pitching me when someone else in the publication writes about this, don't waste my time. Don't email all of us, don't spam us.”

I want to ladder out from the journalist’s perspective and communicate in a way that people from these companies might be a little bit more familiar with. This is like inbound marketing you’re getting coverage for. If you're a publicly traded company like Uber, when words come out of the CEOs mouth, that's news.

If you're not at that level, you need to work for coverage until you get to the point where your company is justifying its own coverage because it's big enough and successful enough. The way that you get earned media is by earning it. And you got to do work to make that happen because you are relying upon others to tell your story for you to a certain extent.

Now, one component about marketing is telling your own story and creating a bunch of momentum to create inbound leads and things like that. And you shouldn't see the communications or PR processes very much outside that they're different particulars, but it should kind of fit into that funnel approach. If you're writing blog posts every week and doing stuff on social media, and really doing work with influencers to make sure you're targeting the right individuals, you can apply the same or similar methodologies to contacting journalists and publications.

How PR professionals build relationships with reporters

JN: Let's talk a little bit about cultivating the relationship. So how is that done? I was reading a funny LinkedIn complaint from a tech reporter in Silicon Valley. And he was like, “Look, if I said yes to every single PR person who invited me to come out for coffee just to discuss what kind of stories they want to put out, I would be spending all my time just drinking coffee and I wouldn't get any work done.”

Again, about picking your moments. I've taken out journalists for coffee or lunch or adult beverages from time to time. It’s about treating them like human beings. All of these relationships should not be just some BS or scheming way of getting into the headspace of a reporter. I want to work with people in a collaborative way, in a human way. These are people they have needs. And also, journalists are often interesting, quirky, and doing all kinds of neat things in their off time. They're just interesting people to talk to, they want to talk about big ideas. So I love listening to reporters.

DS: While your background preparation process can be as heavily researched and technical as you want it to be or the time you want to put in, if it's missing that human element, you're going to fall short. If I receive a form email that I know you've sent to 20 other journalists, which I can obviously recognize, because who can't, then you've kind of dropped the ball at the one yard line.

When I do workshops with various innovation hubs across Canada (because we feel like talking to early stage companies through that format is a great way to kind of put good back out into the community, but then also help us down the line when they're ready to have news) we tell them to not be weird, to not be stupid, and to not be entitled. And really, that's just being a good person and human in your interactions.

I want to go back to something you were saying about building the relationship, and why that’s a component. Generally, it's a given that if you have a relationship with a journalist, you're going to get more time and space with them. But you're also going to have a better understanding of what it is they want to write about, what their focus is, what they're interested in, all those quirky ideas that if you have something you can tee up, maybe it's not news in the specific sense of an announcement, but like, “Hey, we have a really great expert who can speak to you about X, Y, and Z because we know you've been reporting on a lot or you've been you've been publicly stating that you're looking for people to talk about this.”

If you have a relationship that goes a long way as opposed to a cold email being like “My CEO is available for comments on the global news that everyone else wants to comment on.” Developing that relationship, as you so perfectly put it, for senior experienced journalists is difficult because they already have the relationships that they feel that they need. And if they're looking to develop new ones, they're probably practically doing that themselves.

I think the approach is “Okay, so I can't get this senior journalist to sit down for coffee for 30 minutes so that I can extract a lot of value and learn what they want are interested in. But there's a bunch of new junior reporters every semester who don't have a network, who would love to get inundated into that world, have contacts, and learn. They're also people more likely to write about your company and its’ story versus the high profile name, right? I think a lot of times people look at the name on the byline or the publication and value that more than the impact of which publication is writing a story or who’s it’s reaching.

But think about it. If you're a startup with a freemium model, Do you start by trying to get them to pay you $100 a month? Or are you starting them off at the low level that you can kind of work them up to? And kind of close down the line? And I think that communication approach should reflect that.

JN: Yes, very much so. There's another aspect I wanted to get into today, I want to talk about protecting the relationship from a PR side. Because the client may make certain demands, thinking that “you're the PR flack that I'm paying big bucks to make things happen. Make things happen!” So do have you seen an example of where a client may be asking for things that you know is going to sabotage this relationship?

DS: We know when we say don't be weird, stupid, or entitled, that if there is PR and comms team involved or third party agency, that there's pressure and that weird, stupid, and entitled rolls downhill. And then it falls upon the journalists. So a lot of the time ruining a relationship can come from the stress and the pressure of getting covered and that's coming from the company -- which is also probably stressed and pressured to make money, raise a new round, do all these other things. So they're venting all this out hoping to get some coverage to solve all the problems. It's not going to, but that's where the pressure is going.

And they're looking at this communications team, to say, “if you guys could just do your job and get this done, and they write about it, then all of this will be resolved.” And then you have this journalist who's just sitting at a desk, probably drinking too much coffee, having all of this presented on to them.

And they have two options, they can engage with it, try to solve other people's problems, or they can archive that email and move on to the other things that they have to do. So when you're looking at protecting a relationship, and you're a comms person in the position of getting weird requests from someone, often the CEO who’s often a young white male CEO who is not used to being told no or who assumes that communications and PR is very similar to pitch meetings with Venture Capitalists, which is a very different format, there's a couple things you can do, especially if you value the relationship.

If you’ve communicated your expectations to your CEO, that being weird, stupid, or entitled isn't gonna work, and they still want you to do it, and you have a relationship with a journalist, you can say, “Hey, I've got a pitch, I know you're not interested in it. I'm required to send this to put a checkmark on the outreach we’ve done.” And this happens with significantly larger agencies as well where they're working for a major global client, and how many people they reach out to is a reflection of the work that they're doing. They're just sending stuff off knowing that we're not even going look at it.

For example, we don't write about new laptops being released on BetaKit but it doesn't stop those agencies from sending it to us because they have that pressure to send it out and justify their work. The Communications people that we really value that work with us are ones like “Hey, I don't think you're interested in this,” or “I'm gonna say that I sent it but just wanted to double-check, you would be interested in this right?” And we would say “No, thank you, I appreciate you saving my inbox, not wasting my time. or making me feel weird about it.” You can manage that relationship in a way where they're going to appreciate you being a human being. Which is much better than just continuing to send it to her like three or four times a week as a follow-up. That doesn't get anyone anywhere. It's wasting your time as well.

How PR professionals build relationships with reporters

JN: I think those are some excellent examples. The one example I would add to this actually didn't have to do with the original pitch. Once we actually got coverage this way. It might have been actually a story that would appear in BetaKit. After the article was published, the CEO or maybe the VP of Marketing internally came back to me “Oh, I'd like them to include these eight changes in the story.”

It ranged from taking out a comma, where it was perfectly optional to have a comma, to including some boilerplate that goes at the bottom of every release that the reporter had chosen not to include in the story. I know the reporter saw it, and if they decided not to include it, that's their choice. I think there were eight requests in a lengthy email that they wanted, and I'm like, “Well, I'm not gonna just forward this email to the reporter because it's not gonna go well.

There were actually two things that I thought were fair in the request that actually would have made for a better story. And one of those was just the link back to the company, which isn't required in every story. But for this particular publication it was quite common to link back to the company that's mentioned. So I didn't think that was like a big thing to ask for.

DS: I think everyone should recognise what a delicate job Narvey did in not naming names, which I think is appreciated, because you could totally put that company on blast, and I would have fully supported that. But I think what we're talking about here is really about expectation setting on both sides.

So for the communications people listening to this, it's about setting expectations of what this process looks like, how it's going to happen, not just the lead up to the publication of a story if it happens, but what happens afterwards. And then if you are on the executive side working with communications professionals, before you hire them, and you want to get something published, understanding what it means to have something published, and what that process looks like, and what happens after the fact, and what is acceptable to ask for or expect.

At the end of the day, journalists don't work for you. We have no obligation to you at all, other than getting the facts straight. And if we ever received an email where, “hey, there's some information that's incorrect here,” or “hey, there's something that you may have missed that you might find useful,” we always appreciate that because we don't want to get things wrong, we want to correct errors. And we want to have the best possible story out there.

There's been multiple times where we've written a story and then new information has come to light and it's been presented to us, we're like, “Hey, we appreciate you sending that because it just makes the story more detailed and informative and valuable.” If you just don't like the way that we wrote about your company or it's not to your boilerplate marketing messaging, which we are under no obligation to use. Those are not factual inaccuracies that we have any time or interest responding to and you are putting various relationships and access to publications at risk if you are being an Asshat. You might be burning bridges.

I think a lot of this comes from, as you were saying, from the head of Marketing, not someone on the Communication side. If they're seeing the outcome of this as an extension of their marketing machine, of course they would expect to request changes and they're just going to write it the way that we want.

We had a company today where a junior marketing manager reached out to us about a press release. They were under the assumption that we would publish their press release. So obviously, this is just a person not understanding this world and being asked to do a task and having the wrong set of assumptions. That can be difficult when approaching your targeting as you would with your marketing and sales machine. Because those are great tactics to identify who you want to be reaching out to, what they're interested in, and the message of the story that would work, And assuming that we work for you in some way and that you have ownership over your own story, which at a certain point, you don't.

You might be a private company with no interest in talking to the press. But particularly if you're reaching out to press for coverage, there's very little recourse for you to say, “well, we don't like the way that we're covered. Please do it another way.” And I think anyone on the non-communications side hearing this should work to understand and listen to communications professionals, when they say, in a very polite way like Jonathon did, that this is a bad idea.

Then communications professionals save headaches down the road by setting expectations up front. This way the CEO or someone wakes up Monday morning at 8am to see their story that they're excited about, and they split up their coffee because it didn't include all the things that they wanted to see, which also happens. So yeah, I think that all of that comes down to expectations.

JN: Excellent. So if you don’t want your story to get out, don't be talking to journalists. If you don't want any chance that your story goes out in a way that you don't like, well, don't talk to journalists. But then there's the old rule that I was taught back in journalism school, if you've got a friendly relationship with a reporter, and you want to give them a heads up about something, but it's not totally official yet and you don't want that news to come out right away, there is a simple tactic you can use.

You tell them, “Look what I'm about to tell you is off the record and I'm going to tell you when we're back on the record. But right now, I'm speaking off the record, so please stop recording.” And then you just tell them what’s eating you up inside that you have to share with them?

DS: Yes, and you don't tell them until they consent to it being off the record. I think they might be familiar with their company's storytelling, because especially early stage companies, you're telling your company story all the time. You're trying to make people aware and you're trying to raise funding. Internally, you're building your story, figuring out your values, what you believe in, pitching it all the time. It’s a very different circumstance to be pitching your story in a boardroom or pitch competition, and when engaging with a journalist, because that is a conversation that you don't control. And recognising that you don't control it going in will save you from making horrible mistakes. Because the assumption I think, in more private closed scenarios is that you can share that information and say after the fact “Hey, withhold that” and given the context of that.

We've been in pitch competitions that we've been invited to where the company pitching, knowing that we're there sitting in like the third row, will share private internal numbers, and then ask the room not to share that. It’s as if they were threw some sort of magical fairy dust and there was a take back that could happen in our brains, or that we would consent to that.

I think going in with understanding that you don't control, that context is really important. And then there are tactics like saying, “Hey, this is off the record. Do you agree to it? Okay, we're off the record. Now I'll share some stuff, go back on the record,” or, “Hey, I have information I want to share. But we don't want it to get out yet. Would you accept an embargo where I can share some information with you? And an agreed upon publishing date?

So hey, we have a big announcement. But it's almost July 1, we don't want a story going up on Canada Day. We're thinking of doing it the second week of July? Would it be okay, if you agree to not share this information until then? Perfect. Here's all the information.” But this all comes with consent. It is a two-way street. And it is not something that you can claw back or dictate. Certainly before the fact but not after the fact.

How PR professionals build relationships with reporters

JN: I have a question for you just on that tiny point of embargoes. Do you generally require exclusivity? Or would you be okay with a company putting out a press blast to a very large number of reporters and saying in their general pitch, that this won't actually be true until a specific date?

DS: I love that you're asking this question. Narvey is doing a great thing where he's asking a journalist for his perspective on how BetaKit prefers it. So, going into future situations, he is aware of that and will adjust his strategy accordingly. I'm going to answer from the BetaKit perspective and then agnostic from BetaKit because the important thing is that our approach and beliefs are different from other publications. We have different conditions. I don't want people going “The guy in the tweed cap from BetaKit said to do it this way,” and it didn't work with Business in Vancouver, Toronto Life, or all these other places that are completely different publications with different audiences, different editorial standards, things like that.

I will say, for us, and I would think for most publications, if we could exclusively write all of the news, we would and we would love that. But we understand, even in a small media market, like in Canada, that is difficult. And if it's a situation where a company is coming to us with news, even in a very small Canadian tech media market as a subset, there are a couple other publications that they might want to get coverage with. So we hope for exclusives, but we understand that this might be a story that would go out in BetaKit, the Globe, TechCrunch, The Next Web. We're reporting on it for our audience, and there are other audiences. We totally understand that.

That being said, you were talking about the exclusivity and the embargo. If you are sending out a blast of news to a bunch of journalists with an email just says, “Hey, this is under embargo,” none of those journalists have accepted an agreement with you before receiving that. It's kind of like when you get an email from someone on the legal team that's like, “hey, this information is confidential. You can't share it with anyone.” Yeah you can. You totally can if they put it in your inbox like. It's a bunch of CYA (aka Cover your Ass) protection that doesn't really hold up, particularly not in the journalistic reporting sense.

So you're going to put a bunch of information and send it out to a bunch of people saying, “hey, go live at this time and place,” you either have better of a relationship with them beforehand, where they know, “Hey, there's a familiar relationship here. They wouldn't send this. They know that we would agree to this. We're doing this coordination,” or else fully expect that story to get published immediately because that publication is like “We didn’t agree to an embargo thanks. We're gonna write about it now.” Or “hey, you sent this to us, but it's because we've been investigating this. We reached out to you. You can't just send it under embargo somehow.”

We've had companies try to do that to us, or we're trying to interview them. We have the information already. We're gonna run it like our exclusives come from our reporting, not from these relationships. And they're like, “Yeah, well, here's this thing under embargo, you are now freeze rayed. We've got you.” Even an agreement to embargo and off the record, those are mutually agreed to and not enforced by the rule of law.

So, what are you going to do? You get to build relationships and trust in them. And if the relationship is broken, they do work to repair it or burn it as necessary. So all of these particulars are super important and why you hire communications professionals like John whose entire job is to navigate this minefield, separate from the announcement, the messaging, and the news.

But I don't want to spend too much time in the little weeds of it only just to expose the audience to the idea that this world exists. So that when they're talking to their communications professionals, when they're making announcements, they have the required amount of fear and respect for the process.

The same way that if it's like, “Hey, engineers, we want to make everything on the app blue by tomorrow,” and they're like, “That's impossible, and would take this many days, and it might bring the server down.” You wouldn't be like, “Yeah, whatever. I'm just gonna go into the interwebs and hack some code,” you'll be like, “okay, engineer, I trust you.” We hired you for a reason.


When it comes to marketing communications, you trust the professionals that you hire just as much because you know, think of every public scandal snafu that blows up in the media. There's a reason why a lot of those things happen. And it's because somebody didn't listen to their communications professional saying, “No way in hell are we saying that! That is the worst idea ever.” So I wanted to get that out and then dig into the itty bitty details.

JN: I'm so glad you brought that up. And yeah, relationships are built on trust. And if that seems like thin ice to be standing on, well, I guess that depends on the quality of your relationship. And if you don't have full trust with the journalist, if you're trying to freeze ray someone, that's not a sign that you have a good relationship with them in the first place.

And, you know, society is built on trust, on a very fundamental level. We sort of trust that when you cross the road, there's not half the people in cars trying to run you down. And so there's trust on a societal level, and then trust on an individual level. And you've got to build relationships in a genuine way to know who you're dealing with.

DS:There's some journalists who would be like, “don't tell them, don't tell them this stuff, let them screw up, it'll make our jobs easier.” And that may be true in some instances and other instances it might create more of a headache. I think, as someone who has worked on the other side who knows how hard it is to build a company, I'm not suggesting that you don't work with the media or that you don't pursue coverage.

I'm suggesting that you really consider why you're doing it and go into it with an understanding of the risks. It's not as simple as getting the one person on your team with a Liberal Arts degree, to write up something in a Word doc, and send it out to journalists. Know what you're getting into, respect the process, and then you will mitigate your risk.

JN: I think we've covered that very, very well. And I have one final question that we could probably have a whole other episode just devoted to this, but I'm gonna ask you to answer it fairly succinctly. Sponsored content is very much part of most publications, if not all of them. Whether you're a newspaper, magazine, YouTube, or whatever, there's often options to pay for placement. So when you're trying to build a relationship with a reporter and a publication does using their sponsored content option at the start or at any time help?

DS: It’s horrible! It's really bad. Here's where the weirdness is. I'm in a unique position operating as kind of the publisher for BetaKit, the Editor-In-Chief to speak to see both sides.

If you're pitching a journalist saying, “Hey, we're thinking of doing some sponsored work,”You're dangling that as a carrot out in front of covering their story. That journalist doesn't care about the sponsor and stuff, they're just going to pass it to the person who's responsible. It didn't help you in any way.

If you are dealing at a higher level organisation and trying to do that, it's very easy to recognise. It's like, “they're asking about sponsorship because they actually want coverage.” That puts you in a very specific bucket. You are not a person who has come up with this magical idea of like Machiavellian engineering your coverage in some way. Don't do that stuff.

Now, sponsored content is still a valuable approach. Remember we talked about earned media, we talked about inbound marketing, things like that. You can work to do sponsored activities. BetaKit does a lot of sponsor activities. We love it. We love working with partners, to give us money, to do content for our audience that we would love to put out there.

If you are trying to pay to get someone to write something that you would hope that they would write without paying, consider how that aligns to your overall objectives. But then also consider the value of the publication you're talking to you. I think there's a lot of publications out there that don't have a certain set of journalistic integrity. And we know this because people will ask us about our prices versus some other publication where it's like, “we want you to write about us, how much is it per article?” And we're like, “What, what are you talking about?” These are people in the ecosystem who read us every day, who just assumed that some companies were paying for stuff? And like, “No, we choose what we write. What are you talking about?”

So if you're talking to one of those daily sites that publish a lot of posts per city, and maybe there's an expectation there that might get you something. It might be a useful marketing expense. But that's not the kind of stuff that we're talking about here on this episode. If we want to come back and do another episode just on sponsored content and how that aligns to a broad marketing strategy. I would be happy to do that. But it really is a whole other subject.

JN, Well, Douglas, I look forward to talking with you in future on another episode, probably very, very soon!


One of the easiest ways to ruin a relationship with a reporter—or to never begin one in the first place—is to ask: “how much would this story cost?”

Reporters are not in the business of paid media coverage. If you’re thinking of paying for a media placement, you should first figure out whether a publication has a separate sponsored content section, and if so, who’s in charge of that role.

At the end of the day, reporters are objectively writing the news of the day. They are not marketers.

Are you looking to build effective media relations who can tell your story? We know and work with them every day. Contact our Vancouver PR firm to get your story in front of the right reporters.



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