What do journalists want?


Sally Maier

Last week I attended a Gorkana media briefing with Jonathan Grun, Editor at The Press Association. In his view, “interesting stories” and “speed of response” are the secret to building long-lasting relationship with journalists.

Having worked in the PR industry in various cities for almost a decade, I wondered if other journalists shared the same view. With this in mind, I asked a few media industry friends what they thought made a good PR. Here are their responses:

  • TV producer, Channel NewsAsia TV news station, Singapore: “Journalists want to tell the best story within deadline, outshine rival media outlets, and be first with the news. PR folk who understand this and help provide the stories they need (with good multimedia elements) earn lots of goodwill and become good friends”
  • Reporter, Oriental Daily News, Hong Kong: “Regular catch-ups help and casual chats can build up friendships. If possible, say lunch every few months. For those who are in a different country, call or send a Christmas card”
  • Freelance writer, The Guardian, UK: “I generally contact PRs when I need information or a quote, often at short notice. The PRs that I go back to time and again are those who are quick to respond to inquiries, who are competent in their subject area and who have the ear of their clients so they can get the ball rolling”
  • Reporter, China Daily Europe: “I think it’s personal interest and friendship as opposed to work. My PR friends don’t talk about their clients when we meet for lunch, coffee or other things. We just become friends.”
  • UK-based freelance writer, Billionaire.com, Singapore: “Keep supplying relevant information that can be used going forward – or that builds a clear picture of the fields in which your key strengths/contacts lie”


So, my unscientific poll suggests Jonathan Grun is right – interesting news stories and speed of response are key to cultivating long-lasting relationships between PRs-Journalists. But so are regular, informal face-to-face catch-ups. Lunch anyone?


Advice to Graduates wishing to pursue a career in PR


The good news is that according to the IDS (Income Data Services) there is an 8% increase in the number of graduate roles being advertised this year.  Last year it had pretty much flat lined at 0.1%.  So the tide is definitely turning and we’re certainly feeling it here at Gong. Our numbers have more than doubled in less than a year.  A third of our new starters were graduates.  Our international client base and the expansion of Gong Creative, has allowed us to stretch upwards and outwards.

However, there remain 2.49 million unemployed people in the UK and last year 1 in 10 graduates were still unemployed 6 months after graduating.  We have a way to go yet.  CV’s and covering letters have never been more important.

Much of my time is spent going through these CV’s.  Here are my top 5 tips-

1. Research – Dig deep into agency websites and research thoroughly the company you wish to approach.  If you can drop in a subtle one liner, something you’ve noticed, or are interested in, or impressive company stats/achievements this will show you have done your homework and impress potential employers.

2. Covering letter – this should detail, a little about you, why we should employ you and what attracted you to us, keep it brief, informative and relevant.

3. CV’s -should be no more than 2 pages.  Make sure the layout is clear and sectioned off neatly, so that if someone is scanning through it, they can find information fast.

4. Internships – do as many as you can.  You can’t beat office experience.  Internships have become an elongated  ‘interview process’, they’re a fantastic way for you to gain experience and re-confirm your career path.  As an employer, it gives us the chance to see how you work and fit in, so make the most of it, be keen and get stuck in.

5. Stay in touch, link up with everyone and stay in touch via the usual social media networks. Generate a strong presence out there, keep it up to date, but be mindful of your output.

These may sound painfully obvious, but very rarely are such simple guidelines followed.  If you’re interested in joining the team I’d be delighted to hear from you.  Gong continues to grow both in London and internationally, particularly E. Africa and the US.  We have a wonderfully diverse culture in our London office alone, 50% of our employees are non-Brits and between us we have a huge array of skills, languages, experience and creativity to bring to the table.  For more information please go to our ‘about us’ page and get in touch Frankie@gongcomms.wpengine.com