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Dealing with journalists

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday February 15, 2008 )

Journalists are a funny breed – and I’m not talking about bloggers who consider themselves to be journos; I mean the “traditional” ones. Understanding the nature of the beast can help you make the most out of your contact with them.

I made a few mistakes in dealing with journalists in the early days. For starters, remember that nothing is “off the record”. Not that I’ve revealed matters of national security to a journo, but in my first interview I was relaying an embarassing incident that was just off on a tangent somewhat to the conversation; and that then became the focus of my bit of the story :).

The second common thing I’ve found with journalists is that their deadline is always today. In a couple of hours. There’s been a few times when I’ve thought “eh, I’ll attend to that email after breakfast”. I would then follow up and hear nothing back – the reason being was by that time the journo has found a source elsewhere.

A request for interview to the interview, unless you’re some sort of superstar and can make people wait, can happen very quickly. Case in point was a couple of weeks ago. On checking my email for the first time of the day, there was a request for an interview relating to a topic I covered. I think from the time of me responding to the request, clarifying the info required, providing the interview piece, approving how it was integrated – and all this done via email; was around an hour. I hadn’t even had my second cup of coffee for the day.

A relationship with a journalist is often a one night stand.. wham, bam, thanks, cya. Don’t be offended, it’s just the nature of the game. Let the journo know that you’re always happy to help out on a story; they’ll add you to their gold mine – their contacts list; and sometimes those lists are shared with other journalists.

One very important thing to demand from a journalist is to ensure they include your site *address*; not just the site name. While you don’t get any link love from a print magazine or newspaper, people will visit your site if they have that information; and these days, there’s often an online version of the article published.

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