Whether it is a product, a destination, a property or a person, every brand wants to share their unique proposition with the masses. Or more specifically, with the media. Publicists can be an indispensable part of reporting and journalism, since individuals and agencies are responsible with sharing trends, updates and news for their clients. The connection between a journalist and a publicist is a give-and-take type of tug-of-war, but one that can be mutually beneficial for each professional. 

In this series, we navigate the importance of publicity in content creation, and illustrate how these two powerhouses can better work together to create captivating, timely and impactful stories. In part five, we share two success stories.

First-person stories are often a favorite among journalists because they provide the unique opportunity to seek fodder from their experiences, instead of those of experts. Readers are fans of this thread of journalism and reporting, since it often evokes others to brainstorm their own lifestyle and perhaps, make changes. Narratives that build your career are helpful too—especially when you directly relate. That’s why journalists and publicists who aim to improve their working relationship in the coming year, it is impactful to hear first-hand from writers and marketing executives who have built trust and ritual together.

As a juggling journalist myself, there are a solid ten publicists I can always count on to meet fast turnarounds, provide reputable information and be available when I need ‘em — or when I’m in a bind. Without these sources — or rather, their access to experts, products or brands — I wouldn’t be able to meet deadlines as seamlessly or efficiently. I find success stories in business helpful and inspiring, like these tales from the industry. When you consider expanding your network, take a cue from these two pairs who have mastered working together in the gig economy for a greater good: the right to free speech.

How to Work With a Publicist as a Writer: Publicist Sabrina Hutchinson and journalist Selina Wilken

Story one: Publicist Sabrina Hutchinson and journalist Selina Wilken

The connotation of ‘relationship’ has always been romantically inclined — but the truth is, it extends across lifestyle and deep into business exchanges. Professionals who are able to understand the value of this type of connection are often able to build a reputation and excel up that so-called ladder quickly. When the CEO of Defiant Public Relations Sabrina Hutchinson was connected to journalist Selina Wilken, a Senior Writer for Hypable, she knew they’d be a powerhouse duo.

Kindness and dependability count.

Today, Hutchinson considers Wilken a partner to her company — from fielding many assignments to even serving on a panel at Comic-Con. Though there is often a rush in the field to get stories in and get them out, Hutchinson shares the reason they’ve been able to work on exclusives and riddle through emails together is based on a mutual respect. “She is kind, she is very dependable, always follows up and handles things with the utmost professionalism. She always responds to us, which is greatly appreciated. She is also someone who makes work feel like fun. Working with Selina feels like doing a project with a friend,” she explains.

Relationship-building matters.

Considering, as a writer, Wilken is always in contact with various publicists, why does she give Hutchinson a five-star rating? It goes back to the concept of relationship-building, but not only between journalist and publicists, but with clients and projects too. “Sabrina is a generous person who obviously cares deeply about the people and projects she represents. In an industry that sometimes feels very jaded and autopilot-y, it is amazing to interact with someone who so obviously, genuinely cares about the art and artists we spend our time working with and/or writing about,” Wilken shares.

When they are able to present need-to-know info, or given the opportunity to really showcase something that warrants attention, Wilken shares she feels as if she’s discovered a partner in sharing the good stuff. “As someone who went into this industry exactly because I wanted to shine the spotlight on people and projects that I felt passionately about, I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit. And whenever she reaches out to me about covering something, I always want to say ‘yes,’ because I know there must be a story worth telling, or a talent worth spotlighting,” she continues.

Remember the Golden Rule.

To make sure they stay on the same page — and they help one another out, instead of hindering progress — Wilken says they respect they’re both busy, but understand how their jobs differ and how they overlap. This is instrumental, since working styles can cause a disruption in workflow. “She is incredibly patient when working towards a deadline, which is lucky for me, because I’m often typing away until the last possible minute, and have a million clarifying questions,” she adds.

To create a girl power pair like this one, Wilken suggests the good ‘ole fashion Golden Rule. “Consider each request you get—whether you’re a journalist or a publicist—and say ‘yes’ when you can, or at very least politely decline, because we’re all just out here trying to tell good stories, or help others get their stories told,” she continues. “By working with Sabrina, I’ve come to realize that she has the same goal as me, and that makes the projects we do together special. You don’t find your way to these people unless you are open to new collaborations.”

How to Work With a Publicist as a Writer: Reporter Erica Sandberg and publicist Nicole Pomije

Story two: Reporter Erica Sandberg and publicist Nicole Pomije

Thanks to an invite-only Facebook group consumer finance reporter Erica Sandberg and publicist Nicole Pomije found their way to one another’s inboxes. Though Sandberg shared Pomije wasn’t the only publicist to respond—since hey, who doesn’t want their client mentioned in a story?—but her attitude and approach stood out from the pack. “Right from the beginning she had a ‘I will make this work’ way. When you’re on a deadline, that’s so vital. Since then she has always tried to come through when I needed something,” she raves.

It’s a two-way street.

For Pomije, it’s a two-way street, since she can rely on Sandberg to be upfront, honest and quick. “I like working with Erica because it’s easy. If she’s working on something that’s a fit with one of my clients, I get her the quotes and information in a timely manner, and if I can’t meet her deadline I let her know up front,” she continues. “I also know she means business and she’s honest about when the article will most likely go live and professional when scheduling interviews. I give her the same respect.”

Mutual admiration helps success.

It’s this mutual admiration that has made them both successful, no matter the outlet, the topic or the time constraint. As Sandberg puts it, Pomije makes everything so easy—without the guilt trip. “When I ask on the FB group, she’s one of the first to respond and say, ‘OK, let me see what I can do.’ No pressure, just assistance. Every reporter wants this type of dynamic. It’s symbiotic relationship,” she shares.

Friendship helps both persevere.

And more so, it’s become a friendship. For any publicist/writer dynamic, that’s the end goal: a partnership that is conscious of one another’s responsibilities and ethics, and is still there, even if a story gets killed or a client doesn’t work out.  “I don’t just email for business. I connect with Erica to see how she’s doing. I like to check in on my colleagues from time to time just to catch up: talk politics or whatever,” Pomije continues. “If you just email someone when you need something that relationship won’t last long. Create something that lasts.”