By ELPIN KESHISHZADEH
Journalists and media professionals have had mixed relationships throughout their careers. With both wanting to achieve different objectives and goals, this relationship is at times strained.
In a panel that evaluated the relationship between media relations professionals and journalists, moderator Sarah Kogod of SB Nation, Lindsay Jones of USA Today, Rebecca Villanueva, corporate communications manager for the Denver Broncos, and Graham Watson of Yahoo! Sports, discussed various topics surrounding how the two pros could work together.
When it comes to initiating contact with a journalist or a media relations professional, there was a consensus among all of the panelists: make sure to build relationships and have a strong structure of point of contacts for various topics.
Villanueva said that smart writers take note of how different departments are laid out to know the correct professionals to contact for highest efficiency.
“It’s important not to wait until you need something to reach out to a journalist or that PR department,” Kogod said, in regard to initiating contact.
Once a relationship has been built, pitching and gaining access for those high-demand interviews still remains a task to accomplish. In order to nurture and maintain relationships between journalists and media relations professionals, Kogod, a senior content producer for SB Nation, stressed the importance of the balance in giving and receiving. There comes a time when journalists should take interviews they might not exactly want in order ensure long lasting relationships. But that doesn’t mean compromising one’s professional integrity.
Watson, a blogger with Yahoo! Sports, offered advice on getting access – or not getting access: When you don’t get access to a story/interview, it’s first important to know the media laws involved to find other angles. Don’t rely on the news release — be smarter and use your resources; there is always another outlet.
Not every story is what is expected and there are tough situations both journalists and PR pros are put in. Villanueva said the most important aspect comes down to having open discussions, maintaining transparency and laying out the facts.
Doing your job, Jones said, sometimes means upsetting a few people.
“If you can stand behind your work, it’s the best defense to anything,” said Jones, a national NFL reporter for USA Today.