Publicity: dealing with journalists

Feeding a news story to a journalist is an effective way of getting publicity. But you need to be careful.

Journalists have an ethical code. They are not for sale.

Many people mistakenly think applying commercial pressure influences the way journalists approach stories. For example, by saying you’ll advertise in their title.

This can work with some journalists in certain circumstances. Most of the time threats or promises do more harm than good.

At best you will insult them or offend their professional pride.

At worst they’ll decide not to risk touching your story in case they are tainted. Or they may underline their independence and cover your story with a more hostile approach.

Even if they bite, they may not see the story the same way as you.

Remember, their loyalty is to their readers. Journalists don’t see helping your sales as part of their job.

This sounds confusing – media companies sell advertising so you might think journalists would jump at the chance of boosting sales. They like advertising, but they won’t trade their integrity.

Journalists have a long term view. They know readers have more respect for titles with a strong ethical code. This translates to commercial success.

Respected titles have more readers, so they sell more advertising. They also get a better class of reader, which means a better class of customer for advertisers. Research shows advertising is more effective in credible titles.