congratulating a journalist with a cardWhen a favorite journalist is promoted, leaves the newspaper for a new job, or wins an award, smart Publicity Hounds swing into action and deliver their congratulations, a very important part of building the relationship.

Be aware, especially, of things like writing, editing and photography awards. They don’t  mean a hill of beans to the success of the newspaper, but journalists think they are a very big deal. I worked in newsrooms for 22 years, won many awards, and they were a huge deal.

How do you congratulate them without gratuitous brown-nosing? Here are seven ideas:

  • Send a handwritten note. Most well-wishers would cop out with an email. But you want to zig when everybody else is zagging. A 29-cent stamp and a few minutes of your time are a cheap price to pay to stand out from the crowd.
  • Is the journalist on Twitter? If so, send a congratulatory tweet. Link to an article about the award so others who follow the journalist can read it.
  • Are  you friends on Facebook? If so, post congratulations to their wall, and give the URL for the article announcing the award. You can also link to the winning article or project.
  • Create a short “way to go!” video and email the link. With a little editing, you can also provide the link for the winning project. Consider posting the video to their company’s website.
  • Go ahead. Ask the journalist if it’s OK to post the video to YouTube.
  • Is the journalist on LinkedIn? If so, consider writing a recommendation. But sure to explain what factors made their work so special, or what happened as a result. This is the place to recommend, not just congratulate.
  • Call and leave a short, cheery voicemail message.

Don’t do all of these, or it will, indeed, be brown-nosing. And never sneak in a pitch while you’re congratulating.

What Else You Shouldn’t Do

  • No flowers. Women reporters I’ve worked with love flowers, but they’d get the heebie-jeebies when sources sent them.
  • No gifts, gift cards or anything of value. Many newspapers have ethics policies that prohibit reporters from receiving these. Don’t put someone in the uncomfortable position of having to return a gift to you.
  • No tickets to sporting events, the theater or other entertainment venues.
  • Don’t invite the journalist to lunch and dive for the check. He might not be able to accept a free meal. See 18 ways to schmooze with reporters.

Don’t forget sports reporters, copy editors, photographers, graphic artists and other newsroom employees. Ditto for TV producers, anchors, sportscasters, meteorologists and radio talk show hosts. They love being congratulated, too.

What have I missed? If you’re a PR person, a journalist or a Publicity Hound, what ideas can you share that have worked well?