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Taking a Pokémon Go Approach to PR and Journalists

By Rudi Davis 25 July, 2016

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week – and who knows, maybe you have so no judgement here – you will be painfully aware of Pokémon Go’s instant stellar success. The game has engulfed the world infectiously, reducing the attention span of millions of Poké-fans to nothing.

But – and here’s the thing – this got us thinking. The end game of Pokémon Go is to catch and tame some Pokémon, right? As a gamer, you wander around hunting for Pokémon you can catch and get to do your bidding. Well, this is where PR and Pokémon Go share some similarities because, like taming Pokémon, you can also tame journalists.

Okay, so this may be a *flagrant* exploitation of SEO. And, additionally, tame may be a bit of a strong word. Even pretending that you have a ‘pet’ journalist is a big no-no, and adopting such an attitude could backfire tremendously. Rather, this sort of relationship building could mean the difference between requests being met with open receptivity, or cold cynicism. At the end of the day, successful PR is all about leveraging your charisma, contacts and relationships to get the best coverage you possibly can. Public Relations, as a rule, is partly about supplying media staff with useful information they need, part charm offensive.

Now, when it comes to getting a journalist onside, know your limitations. If you are a relatively young business with little social proof or previous press exposure, going after the big beasts – national newspaper editors, section editors, or leading magazine editors – may not do you a ton of good.

Focus on the little fish

If we continue with the Pokémon analogy (we are definitely continuing) then the takeaway is this: instead of hunting for a big ‘ol Charizard, instead chase those smaller Charmanders. For every big fish editor out there who will expect to be shmoozed properly in the building of this relationship, there will be numberless young, hungry reporters looking for their own exclusive contacts.

These are the reporters to invite for coffee, to send press releases to, and to make aware that you are always available for comment on a subject specific to your expertise. The important thing, as always, is to do your research. Before reaching out to a journalist, make sure you are reaching out to the right one. Read articles and check social media accounts to ensure that you aren’t wasting your time, or theirs.

This article on PR daily – written by a working journalist – demonstrates just some of the ways you can court a journalist’s favor. The rules are much the same as you would expect, focusing on speed, reliability and honesty.

In proving yourself to be a reliable source, a time-short hack is much more likely to turn to a source they know is reliable, rather than trying to find a new one.

One important aspect of fostering these relationships, however, is respecting a reporter’s individual integrity. If you pitch a story and they don’t like it, that’s fine. If they aren’t running with your announcement, it’s nothing personal – it probably just isn’t as interesting as you think it is.  

Face-to-face meetings, if possible, are the best for nurturing relationships with journalists. Inviting them for coffee to discuss your upcoming announcements, before they are officially announcements, is a great way to attract interest and encourage reporters to write about you. Offering to pay may seem like the natural thing to do but, if the journalist in question insists on buying their own drink, don’t be offended – it may be a question of organizational ethics.

Final Poké-thoughts

Remember that, like Pokémon, journalists also ‘evolve’. As they move up the ladder and across into other publications, journalists take their contacts with them. The reporter you befriend while they are working on a small, niche tech-publication may well end up being an editor on a big website or newspaper in the future. Favor’s do not go forgotten, so by providing young journalists with great stories early on, you lay the foundations for a strong future professional relationship.

Now, go catch ‘em all. Just don’t start throwing Poké-balls at them.  

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