As any counsellor will tell you, trust is key in any relationship. And it is vital when building relationships with editors and journalists. They need to be sure that the information you give them is accurate, truthful and not twisted into misrepresentation – their own reputations are bound up in the quality of the articles that they publish.
And in return you need to be sure that ‘off the record’ briefings remain ‘off the record’, that embargoes are respected and that you will be given the chance to respond if a negative story breaks.
How to build that mutual trust is the question.
And the answer is that it can only be achieved over time, by working at building each relationship and behaving with the utmost professionalism. So, press releases need to be checked and double-checked and signed-off by all interested parties. If you say that you will provide two hi-res images, then you must deliver. If you have negotiated to contribute a non-advertorial article, then you must not send in a ‘puff’ piece full of references to your client. Otherwise you are simply wasting an editor’s time and it will be remembered the next time you want to talk about editorial.
Responding promptly is essential. You may not be able to provide the information, images or story that the journalist wants but you should always be clear in your answers and meet agreed deadlines. And don’t be afraid to demand equally high standards from a journalist.
Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around and never forget that you are representing your client’s profile as well as your own professionalism.
Relationships have to be worked at. And trust has to be earned.