Friends in High Places (Media)

By Mark Macias

Everyone wants to help a friend and members of the media are no different.

If you’re cozy with certain journalists, you might get a call returned faster or your story idea forwarded to the right person.

I spent over a decade working side-by-side with journalists at NBC and CBS, but you don’t need to be inside the media to curry favor. You can also develop relationships by seeking outside interests.

Look for Networking Opportunites

First off, you need to be genuine about what I’m going to say. Journalists are smart and can read through a fake quickly so if this is not something you’re interested in, don’t show up for the sake of meeting media people. However, if you do love these types of networking events, they can easily work to your advantage.

Affinity organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Asian Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists provide many personal opportunities to network with journalists.

Those summer conferences allow journalists to socialize and network together while their nighttime events are filled with booze and parties. You don’t need to hold a press card to attend one of these conferences. If you pay the fees, you are welcomed inside.

Many cities also have their own local media mixers.

When I worked for a TV station in Phoenix, I belonged to an organization called the Arizona Latino Media Association or ALMA. The group frequently held social events at bars and restaurants where Hispanic journalists and PR executives mingled. Mediabistro also hosts networking events where journalists hang out together.

Just don’t be fake with your agenda. If you are there to network with people – or even to sell your business – be transparent because no one wants to hang out with the guy who is holding a secret. And don’t forget, these professionals are paid to uncover secrets, so you won’t last very long if you take that approach.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.