4 Great Hacks for Building Relationships with a Top-Tier Journalist

By Lily Blake Published: 1 March, 2023

two men sat at table

It can feel like an uphill battle getting the attention of top-tier journalists, even when you’re writing killer pitches. The statistics back it up, with only 8% of media pitches resulting in media coverage.

Cison’s 2022 State of the Media survey also discovered that 46% of journalists receive more than 50 pitches a week, and 22% receive more than 100. While these numbers don’t look encouraging, don’t despair just yet. We’ve outlined some of the tips and tricks we use in-house to make a pitch the first one a journalist reads on their busy Monday morning.

1. Do Your Research

Your pitch may have the prettiest prose, but if you’re sending a sports journalist the scoop on a health tech startup in sub-Saharan Africa, you’ve clearly not done your research.  

Journalists often have very clear niches and areas of interest—so find out what they are and make a note of it. When you send them a pitch, consider why this particular journalist will care. 

91% of journalists in the Cison report said that over half the pitches they receive aren’t relevant to their audience and sector. So, consistently being in the 9% will put you in the journalist’s good books. 

2. Introductions Are Key

Once you’ve found a journalist you think is a perfect fit for your pitches, it’s time to make a subtle introduction. 

Start by keeping an eye on what they publish, and when you find a story you love, congratulate them on it sincerely. This way, you can start to build a relationship with them.

You can also engage with them on social media by liking their posts or following their blog—nothing too stalkerish, but just enough for them to notice your interest. 

A golden rule in the industry is to never send them a pitch via social media; this is very much a PR faux par. Using social media is often part of a journalist’s downtime, so don’t cross the line into work. 

3. Engage With Them on a Human Level 

It’s time to start communicating with journalists for other reasons—not just to spout pitches at them.

Why not email them about something you think they’ll find interesting? It’s good practice to continue the conversation by sharing any content with journalists that you think they would find interesting, and this doesn’t need to be work-related either. 

If you can connect with them on a wide range of topics, you can establish a work friendship. This means they’re much more likely to read your pitches and, more importantly, reply. 

Also, watch out for the pitch follow-ups; they’re often not always appreciated. And the Cison 2022 survey revealed that one too many is enough for 48% of journalists to block you. Ouch. 

4. Help Them Network

Now it’s time to bring out the big guns and show journalists how invaluable you are within the industry. 

If you have any contacts or colleagues that have a mutual interest with a journalist you work with, why not introduce them? Send them a polite email with the LinkedIn information and show the journalist that you’re a handy contact to have. 

Also, inviting them to participate in media conferences and events is a great card to play and will be extremely valuable to the journalist too. For example, here at Publicize, we organize Connect events where startups present their innovative ideas to top-tier journalists. Events like these are a win-win for everyone involved.  

With these four top tips, you’re much more likely to get yourself, and your pitches, noticed by the top-tier journalists you’ve been pining over. But don’t worry if you don’t get a new journalist best friend straight away; everyone knows that all good things are worth waiting for. 

If you’d like more information on how to pitch to journalists successfully, take a look at our guide. And to view our full range of PR blogs and resources, click here.