What To Ask A Reporter At A Lunch Meeting

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My public relations professor in college always said that public relations is about “human relations,” which simply is the ability to connect with people. Although this isn’t brain surgery, what can sometimes get lost in the fray as we’re tying to tell our story is that reporters are people we need to connect with, too.

One of the best things that businesses of all sizes can do is develop a relationship with the reporter who covers the area they operate in. One sure-fire way to accomplish this is to invite your beat reporter for a quick lunch meeting. If the thought of this has you shaking in your boots, here are a few questions you can use to break the ice:

  1. Tell me about your beat: There’s nothing a reporter hates more than being spammed with press releases and story pitches that have nothing to do with what they cover. Use your meeting to get a clear picture of the reporter’s beat and story preferences.
  2. How do you like to receive information: Email is the contact preference for most reporters. However, some may prefer fax or even snail mail. During a recent event for the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists, one reporter shared that she’s partial to hand-written letters. Find out the reporter’s preference and deliver the information as requested.
  3. What’s the best time to contact you: All reporters work on deadlines, especially those at daily newspapers or TV stations. The deadlines for long-lead pubs like magazines vary. Find out what the reporters deadline is and don’t call during this day/time unless you have a great resource who can be used in a breaking news story.
  4. How can I help you: Don’t leave the table without learning how you can be a resource. Becoming a reliable resource is the best way to build and sustain your relationship with the media. Find out who he or she needs access to in your organization for interviews or send reports or trend stories that would be of interest just because. This will pay off in the long-run.

Public relations is all about relating to people. Reporters are an integral part of this equation. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and request a lunch meeting.

Bon Appétit!

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About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; advertising planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and, writing services.

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