Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or in real life more than six months in advance of pitching a reporter.
Monitor the Twitter hashtags of your community. Often reporters chat with the public on Twitter, and you can respond to comments they make.
Introduce yourself to reporters at big public or chamber of commerce events. Pass along your card, but don’t try and sell them the idea on the spot. Just be helpful.
Comb through Muck Rack to find regional or national reporters on Twitter who cover your industry.
Write a positive blog post on your blog highlighting a story of theirs, and e-mail them the link.
Respond regularly to posts they’ve written either on their blog, or on a local community blog you’ve noticed they post on.
Visit city council meetings in your town. Typically there’s a reporter sitting around bored, that you can build a relationship with.
Scout publications with smaller and more targeted readerships, such as a local business weekly publication. These media outlets are often run by just two or three people, and they’ll jump at a guest column or article by you because it’ll save them the time of tracking down a story on their own.
Listen to AM radio stations, especially on weekday mornings or on Saturdays. Befriend one of the regular show hosts. Often they’ll highlight any business that is doing something interesting the public might find interesting.
Cancel spending money on an online press release site early on. Those online press release systems are more useful for building inbound links, or if you’re already a recognized expert with a track record, and there’s a major news event breaking that you could discuss.