1. Make a list of journalists who matter to your type of practice or firm.
2. Introduce yourself and your firm. Keep introductions mercifully short.
3. Take the long-term view when dealing with journalists. They may not be interested in one or several stories you would like to see published, but over time, you are likely to be quoted in an article or invited to a TV or radio interview. Think relationships, not speed dating.
4. Follow what a journalist is writing about. Go back at least 6 months before pitching your story idea. There is nothing faster that alienates a journalist is pitching the story that she wrote and published last week!
5. Be helpful and stay in touch. When something crosses your desk that would be useful to a journalist you’re trying to build, send it over with a short note.
6. If you pitch a story idea and the journalist is not interested, move on. There is no point in beating a dead horse. In fact, constant pestering will probably alienate the journalist. Remember: journalists don’t work for you.
7. When a journalist calls you for an interview, call back right away. Don’t keep a journalist waiting. Journalists are always on deadline. You may have an hour or two, tops, to return a phone call. If you don’t respond, the journalist moves on to another source—another lawyer, maybe your competitor.
8. There is no such thing as “off the record.” If you don’t want to see it in print or in a TV interview, don’t say it.
9. There is such a thing as “for background.” If you have special insight into the situation a reporter is writing about, you can supply this information by saying your material is “for background” rather than attribution.
10. If you have been misquoted, call back the journalist and explain the nature of the mistake. Try and do this in a neutral, factual fashion. If the mistake is very big on the journalist’s part, the publication may print a retraction or correct an honest mistake. Don’t ask for a retraction for a petty or trivial matter, however. It will be perceived as whining.
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