What Journalists Want | A Day With James Mulder

How can you improve your relations with the media?

Last week in Public Relations Writing 215, we had a guest speaker, James Mulder, come in and speak about his extensive career as a journalist for the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y. Mulder gave students some great advice on how public relations professionals should interact and build relationships with journalists and the media as a whole. There were a few points that I enjoyed in particular.

1) Personalization is a must.

Mulder made an argument that really stuck out to me because I have already been implementing it into my own practice as an account supervisor for Hill Communications. He told the class that every email (and phone pitch for that matter) should be personalized. This means that the subject line is tailored to the journalist, the greeting has the journalist’s name in it, and the content is relatable to what beat that person covers. Within my work for Hill Communications, I have sent out email pitches that were specialized for that specific audience. For example, I sent an email to several history professors inviting them to my client’s event that featured a lecture from a local historian. Though this was not a media pitch, it was still important to personalize the email. I was happy when I heard James make this point, because it gave me a sense of validation and encouragement.

2) Time affects credibility.

Another topic Mulder covered that I found useful was the concept of time. Time is so important to both journalists and public relations practitioners. If a task is not completed on time, your credibility as a professional can be reduced. Mulder explained that often times, a public relations practitioner will not have the information a journalist needs immediately. However, he or she should still call the journalist and notify them that the information is on its way and that they will call it in as soon as possible. If public relations specialists are not transparent, honest, and helpful while interacting with journalists, their credibility could suffer. Mulder emphasized that in media, it is the little things that make professionals more worthy of trust.

Overall, I thought Mulder was extremely helpful. He answered some great questions. It was great to see that Mulder and my professor, Kerri Ganci, had such a great relationship. Ganci and Mulder prove that mutually beneficial relationships among press and public relations’ departments are extremely constructive for both parties. I look forward to building my own relationships with journalists in the future<



  1. Personalization was a huge point that I picked up on as well during Mulder’s presentation. I thought it was super interesting hearing how vital a personalized subject title is in an email. Mulder, although has worked in the industry for years, gave extremely relatable points that will help us tremendously now. Not only is personalization important, it’s flattering. Personalizing an email or pitch shows the receiver that you are interested and have done your research– someone is more likely to take time out to pitch your story or email back when they see you’ve taken the time out as well.

  2. I also thought that Jim Mulder come into our class was extremely beneficial. Mulder had so much life experience in the the journalism industry and I think that the points that you touched upon in your posts were some of the most important. His advice on personalizing an email was something I hadn’t thought of to do prior, but after discussing it makes a lot of sense. If I was receiving a pitch I would want the person pitching it to me to know a little about the type of work I do. I think this is something that all of us will benefit from in the future when we, hopefully, all begin careers in this type of industry.

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