Should freelancers be at the top of your list for building meaningful – and useful – connections with the media? Yes, and here are five reasons why, from our latest webinar with Journo Resources’ Jem Collins and Faima Bakar, and Freelancing for Journalists’ Lily Canter and Emma Wilkinson…
Watch the full Building better relationships between PRs and journalists webinar or read our write up with more advice from the event here.
1) Most freelance journalists are already au fait with, and effective at, working remotely
Switching to remote working had its difficulties in the PR and media industries as calls to offices weren’t always diverted to homes and inboxes were flooded with more emails than ever, just for starters. One community who already knew how to manage working from home effectively? Freelancers:
‘With people working from home who weren’t used to it during the first lockdown, the amount of requests for calls and catch ups with me really went through the roof,’ said Jem. ‘There was a month or two that was Call Central, so it’s good to see people have settled more into hybrid working. I’ve always worked from home and already had quite a good comms system set up.’
2) Your working relationship with a freelance journalist can be more intimate than with a staffer…
…in the most professional meaning of that word. Staff news teams may find relevant press releases useful to write up, but a freelancer will want exclusivity and something deeper.
‘It really is a different relationship that you’ll have with freelancers,’ said Lily. ‘Exclusivity is key. I want something that nobody else has. An exclusive case study, or you can work with me to do an exclusive report from some data you’ve been able to gather.
‘It’s about building a unique relationship with an individual. It’s more of an intimate relationship that you have with a freelancer.’
3) A freelancer may have more freedom to collaborate closely with you on content
‘The relationships I have with PRs that work will be those that come to me with something specific and they want my advice as well,’ said Emma. ‘Like, “I’ve got this info, where do you think this might fit?” It can be more of a back and forth between us.
‘Those PRs will also note when I tweet when I’m doing a particular feature, or send out an enquiry via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service, and understand that commissioning process. If I’m interested in your story, I will pitch it, but I don’t have the power to just publish that information. Understand our beat and how commissioning works for us.’
4) Want a different take on your research/data/survey results? A freelancer will be able to think of a new angle
If you have some intriguing data and think you’ve come up with all the possible angles that might be of interest to the media and its readership, think again:
‘As a freelancer, I keep getting those generic press releases, but I’m interested in unique and interesting case studies, even if you’re pitching them to in-house staff,’ said Faima.
‘If you have commissioned research – get in touch with me. I might be able to pull out a line and build a whole feature around it. I’ve managed to pitch a piece based on research like that to Stylist. If it’s research that’s relevant to the journalist; go for it.’
5) Freelancers potentially have a broader reach than staffers working for one publication
While staffers are often limited to certain topics, times and formats, freelancers can be writing on a variety of subjects, to different deadlines, for many different outlets:
‘I’m normally working several weeks ahead, but for a magazine, it would be two or three months in advance. If it’s for Metro, it might be a month in advance. It does depend, so that’s why I’d advise building a connection with freelancers,’ said Lily.
‘They’re working for lots of different publications. It might be print, websites, magazines – lots of different audiences.’
‘Understand how each freelancer works, because we all do it very differently.’
For more on working with freelancers, watch the full webinar here, check out these tips for making the most out of the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service and here is more advice on pitching to freelancers effectively.