As magazines move online and new content websites sprout up every week, freelance writers are becoming more and more common. Whether they are former OG staff writers or fresh out of college and testing the gig economy waters, interfacing with them will become part of your PR day-to-day, if it’s not already. They may write for long-lead publications, news-of-the-day sites or a combination of the two, and they probably have their own set of preferences for the way they like to do things. You could approach them with a one-size-fits-all approach, but you’d be doing them—and your brand—a disservice. In my experience, the bulk of media coverage comes from curated pitching and carefully groomed relationships, so you’ll have a greater chance of success by working with freelancers in a way that works for them.

 

Ask how they like to receive information

Freelancers can work for just one publication or several. In either case, they will have preferences for how they like to receive information. If you meet a freelancer at an event or connect over email, ask if they keep a list of sources, and if so, if you can be added. It would also be helpful to find out if they are open to receiving story pitches or only product pitches. Some freelancers only work on assignment, where others are on the hunt for story ideas to pitch to their editors. Ask how far in advance they like to receive pitches. If you’re pitching a product, do they need links to a specific retailer, and do they need high or low-res images?

 

Follow up, but don’t stalk

Like most journalists, freelancers are busy so it’s possible that the information you sent fell through the cracks. If you send them a pitch, give them at least a few days before following up. Not hours. DAYS. If they say they received your info, ask if there’s anything else you can provide. If they say no or don’t respond, leave it at that and keep your fingers crossed that they will include your brand in something they are working on. If not, check back in a few months in the hopes that another opportunity has surfaced.

 

Don’t be hurt if freelancers can’t come to your event

I know that attendance to press events can often tie into your KPI’s, but remember that freelancers are not compensated for attending events, so events are not always a top priority. To increase your attendance numbers, try to offer flexible times (rather than one 2-hour window, for example). It’s also helpful if the date of your event is the same as another they may be attending so they can do one right after the other (i.e. Pepcom or CES, if you have a tech product). If they can’t make it, keep the conversation going by offering to send them a sample, information and images. Tell your boss that I said so.

 

Don’t treat freelancers as “less than”

This should go without saying, but I’ve experienced this personally so here goes… it’s great when freelancers are in a position to do a lot for you, isn’t it? But what about when they no longer write for a publication where they can cover your brand? You may think that they’re no longer worth your time, but you’d be wrong. Writers move around all the time, and things can change in a day. If you stop sending info, inviting them to your events or offering up opportunities to test your product—especially if you are rude or dismissive—you won’t be top of mind when they’re back in a place where they can write about you again.

 

Granted, there are always some bad apples who will take advantage of the perks that can come with being a journalist, like trolling your events for free stuff or asking for excessive samples. Trust your gut on those, but if a freelancer writes for legit publications rather than just for their own blog, it’s likely that they are the real deal.

 

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, lifestyle, parenting and retail.

 

In addition to monthly “Best Buys” segments on local network stations in New York City and Washington, DC, she has appeared on dozens of TV shows, including Rachael Ray, Inside Edition, CNBC and network affiliates nationwide.

 

Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and FlexJobs. She is a contributing editor at Woman’s Day magazine and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Forbes, USNews.com, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, MSN, Yahoo Finance and numerous others.

 

Trae is co-founder of the media coaching firm, One Take, and the cult cosmetic brand, Three Custom Color Specialists. She is also a frequent speaker at conferences such as FinCon, Alt Summit and Mom 2.0 Summit.