Getting the attention of a reporter can be pretty tough. You can send an email, but chances are that the reporter is receiving countless emails day and night, so yours very well may get overlooked. You can give the reporter a call, but he (or she) is probably up against a deadline and if he doesn’t already know you he might not have time to chat. You can try to interact with the reporter on Twitter (something I highly recommend), but even still, it can often be tough to stand out in the Twittersphere if that’s the only way you’re reaching out. There is, however, one place where you’re almost certain to get a reporter’s attention, especially if you’re there frequently over time – the comment section on his stories.

Comment button and hand cursorIn this age of digital journalism, one of the most common ways a reporter’s success (and sometimes, income) is measured is by the amount of traffic and attention his articles generate. So, many reporters pay very close attention to the comments readers leave on their stories. They want to keep readers engaged and coming back, so they give readers the ability to comment and they interact with them, building relationships.

For a PR person, this represents an opportunity to get noticed and establish a relationship with a particular journalist. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Choose a reporter who covers your industry.
  • Read every story he publishes.
  • Comment on at least one of his articles or blog posts every week. The key here is to leave insightful comments that promote discussion. Don’t say things like “Great post!” or “I agree!” Those are meaningless comments that won’t get noticed. Add something to the story. Share your unique perspective. It’s even okay to disagree with the reporter if you do it in a respectful and thoughtful manner.
  • Keep doing this so you can get noticed and start building a relationship with the reporter.
  • Don’t pitch too early. This is about earning trust, and that takes time. You don’t want to come in immediately pitching yourself and asking for favors. Let the relationship build. Take your time. If the reporter sees you’re adding value to the conversations and have a unique point of view, he may reach out to you first.

The other great thing about this approach is that it helps you get more familiar with the reporter’s work. You can get a better feel for what topics he covers, what his audience is most interested in, and where you might be able to fit in at some point down the line.

Have you tried to connect with reporters by commenting on their articles? How did it work out for you? Leave a comment to share your thoughts and experiences!

Read more: 7 Ways to Congratulate Journalists—Without Brown-Nosing