How to make friends with journalists


This article was originally written by Becky Slack on CharityConnect

Ever wondered how to make the social affairs editor of a national broadsheet your best friend? The answer is wine.

OK, I’m being flippant, but there is an element of truth in this. Hanging out where journalists hang out, and socializing with them, can be a very successful way to build relationships them.

Of course there is more to this than just schmoozing. Becoming a trusted and reliable source of information takes time and energy, but make the effort and it will reap rewards for you. So much of a journalist’s work is based on knowing the right people, who can give them the right information at the right time. Be that person and the more they will turn to you for contributions.


Here’s some top tips for establishing good working relationships with journalists:

  • Send them a briefing document containing information about your organisation, key spokespeople and the topics you can comment on.
  • Send them useful, relevant and new information that meets the needs of their target audience and is presented in an appropriate format. Most journalists prefer email as the first point of contact.
  • Know when NOT to pitch. Don’t be the person calling a local news station to pitch a story during the midst of a large fire at a nearby factory, or a national newsroom during a major terrorist siege. Breaking news stories can often consume the entire newsroom at which point no one will care about your organisation. Wait until things have calmed down.
  • Be fast and reliable. Provide them with what they want, when they want it. One good interview or comment piece can turn into many more if the media know that you are responsive, efficient and can comfortably handle an interview.
  • Make yourself available. News waits for no man or woman. Journalists need to know that they can call you at 7am or 11pm for comment and background information. Accommodating out of hours and urgent requests is essential if you’re to become the go to person for interviews.
  • Hang out where they hang out – conferences and events can be the best way to make that all-important first face-to-face contact.
  • Invite them to meet you and your organisation. However, remember that journalists are busy and it has to be worth their while. The invite will only be accepted if you have something interesting to offer them that they couldn’t receive over the phone or via email, be it a press conference, the chance to meet a VIP or to see your work in action.
  • Become their ears on your industry. Feed them stories, provide on-and off-the record comment, and help them keep on top of the latest developments so they can break stories faster and better than their competition. This may include giving them exclusives and visual and audio elements, such as photos, infographics and video to accompany a story. Journalists are busy. The more you can package up for them to make their life easier the better, and the more likely your content will be accepted.
  • Ask them what they want. If you secure an interview with a writer or reporter, it’s a great opportunity to strike up a conversation about what else they may be interested in covering. But do it at the right time. Wait until all logistics of your phone interview have been set up or after the TV filming has wrapped up. Let them know that you enjoyed working with them and then mention a few other story ideas to see if they would be interested.
  • Don’t forget about social media. Follow journalists on Twitter and Facebook, and try and find an appropriate but not obtrusive way to join in the conversation or provide them with answers to questions they may have raised.
  • Thank them. Just as you’d thank a donor or volunteer for their support, you should also thank a journalist for giving you great coverage. Be gracious.

For more useful information why not take a look at our useful resources page on the Slack Communications website.

About Anna Bland

I am the Community Engagement Executive for CharityConnect; so chat to all you lovely charity people about our new community site. I am passionate about women’s rights, love documentaries and drink excessive amounts of tea!

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Related article

CharityConnect: the place to meet others making a difference


With so many diverse and niche roles in the charity sector, conventional career advice isn’t always enough. Sometimes, what you really need is to connect with people who have been there before.

But the question is how do we get in touch with these people?

That’s where CharityConnect comes in! CharityConnect is the professional online community for the charity sector, helping to create a culture of collaboration. It is a central hub for all the information you need, helping you connect with people across the entire sector. Interested? Here are some simple methods that you can use to take advantage of CharityConnect, engage, learn, thrive and meet others who are making a difference.

Ask questions & find answers

There will come a time when you have a burning career question that needs to be answered. And what better way to learn than from other professionals who have overcome the same issues you’re currently tackling? On CharityConnect, you’re actively encouraged to participate in discussions, write posts that reflect your personal experiences and meet new people who have shared your struggles. The aim is to offer you valuable, relevant, advice to help you go above and beyond what is expected from you at work. Community and collaboration are at the heart of CharityConnect and we want you to discover those hidden gems within the sector. Because ultimately, we can do better together.

In short: Connecting with people means more than just ‘following’ them on social media. It’s about actively starting conversations, offering help when you can and creating a culture whereby sharing our experiences is second nature. Now you can start asking those all important questions on CharityConnect.

Interact with your peers

As obvious as it may sound, you should never forget that your colleagues are one of your greatest assets. As well as giving you an insight into their previous role, they will also be aware of the mission statement that you’re working towards and provide you with meaningful advice. CharityConnect allows you build new relationships and tap into your established community of charity professionals. Even when you’re trying to extend your network, don’t forget how valuable your colleagues are.

In short: The worst thing you can do is just follow someone and interact with them once. CharityConnect makes keeping in touch with people simple and easy. So start a simple discussion or ask someone for their advice because, when maintaining relationships, interaction is everything.


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    Hub Fund Programme Manager - Indigo (c. £45 – 50,000 (FTE) pro rated for 14 hours per week plus benefits, Westminster)
  • Fundraising Officer - Student Christian Movement (£22-24,000, Birmingham)

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Look for a mentor and get on their radar

We all have someone in our field that we admire. You follow their work, you can see that they are genuinely contributing to the industry and now you want to learn from them personally. While you’ll be able to interact, start discussions and follow professionals on CharityConnect, it’s not as simple asking for their advice. It’s important to make yourself appealing so they believe they’re investing time in someone who wants to progress in the sector. Stand out from the crowd by being proactive and starting conversations in CharityConnect groups. We created groups so that you can have specific and targeted discussions. This draws the attention of people who are particularly skilled in that area (or need advice) so that you can begin building relationships with the right people. You’ll be able to hear all of the latest industry news and offer your unique perspective.

In short: Don’t just expect a mentor to say yes because you’re interested in their work. Prove to them that you have something to offer by being a constant and active member of the industry community.

Discover industry influencers

With so many changes happening in the sector every year, it’s so important to be kept up-to-date. By keeping up with the most influential people, you will have a much better idea of the direction that your particular area is heading in, the road bumps to look out for and productive ways to manage the most difficult situations. With this, you’ll benefit from the experience of those who have not just been through it, but triumphed. So be especially vigilant when you’re online!

In short: Keep an eye on influencers and stay in tune with what’s happening in the sector. Their experience is priceless, easy to find and instrumental in your career!

Speaking to people directly and starting a sincere conversation can be just as, if not more, beneficial as any video you watch or book that you read. CharityConnect is here to open the door that, otherwise, might be closed. We want to ensure that everyone has access to the information that they need to have a budding career. And a huge part of that is learning from others who have been there before.

So, if you’re looking for a way to connect with other charity professionals, learn and create a future of collaboration, CharityConnect is the place for you. Register your interest today to start building a better connected and informed sector.

About Anna Bland

I am the Community Engagement Executive for CharityConnect; so chat to all you lovely charity people about our new community site. I am passionate about women’s rights, love documentaries and drink excessive amounts of tea!

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