This week marks the end of an era at The Times as esteemed journalist Frances Gibb steps down as legal editor, a position she has held since 1982. Always the consummate professional, Frances and her insightful articles will be missed. As one reader wrote, Frances is "an institution....nobody has done more to bring an understanding of the law to the people."
My own relationship with Frances dates back to around 2003 when I was working in-house at a City law firm. Returning to the workplace in 2015 after a prolonged career break, Frances was one of just two of my original press contacts still covering the legal beat. Naturally, I reached out to Frances and in the intervening four years I have been fortunate to work with her on numerous commissions and on the occasional news story. One notable story involving sex dolls of all things springs to mind!
Our relationship serves as a reminder of the importance of nurturing relationships with press contacts. With today's 24 hour news cycle, reporters' jobs are hard enough without having to deal with PRs who bombard them with irrelevant pitches. Take time to read what your target journalists are writing about, engage with them on social media by liking and sharing their articles and research ideas carefully. Go out of your way to be helpful regardless of whether it leads to a quote or mention and meet deadlines.
It takes time to build trust but once you have gained the trust required to build a mutually beneficial relationship, press coverage will follow.
Moving with the times: what I witnessed as legal editorFrances Gibb, who is retiring after covering the law since 1982, reflects on the changing role of the reporter and a justice system transformed Frances Gibb January 31 2019, 12:01am, The Times Law correspondent.”