Public relations is about forming relationships with various members of the public, including customers, employees, stakeholders and reporters. That's why it's called public relations. If the media relations part of PR and ultimately media coverage are part of business goals of you are a PR pro yourself, you're going to have to form relationships with reporters.

It starts by knowing what reporters cover and the ones who write about what you do. It also helps to know where reporters are located, so you can reach out with the appropriate ask -- an in-person coffee meeting or a phone chat, for example.

Make sure to do proper research.

Every single reporter will tell you about the dozen(s) or so of email pitches and press releases they get every day that have nothing to do with what they write about. I'm a former full-time reporter turned PR pro who writes about PR and communications in this column, and I can't tell you how many offers of "desk-side chats" I get for expert sources on a variety of subjects traveling through New York City. I live in Charlotte, NC. 

You might think that if you flood the zone with your media outreach you will ensure success in the form of coveted media exposure. Nope. It's just lazy. Remember, relationships. If you flub a reporters beat, location or outlet, I promise you your email will be immediately deleted, often unopened. 

You want to identify the reporters who write about what you do and who you would like to get to know. Group them by local (those who live and work where you do), regional, national and trade (those at outlets who cover a specific industry). Make note of stories they've written that you enjoyed or benefited from reading or in which you would have an opinion to offer -- especially contrary opinions, which are useful in stories. You might want to reference a story you read or your point of view when you reach out by email. Reporters appreciate alternate points of view, when they are leveled in a polite, informative (read not angry reader) way.

Use Google and Twitter to find reporters and stay up-to-date.

While you pay attention to the bylines of the stories you read in the outlets you subscribe to or that you happen across in your social media feeds, you also want to actively look for reporters who write about your industry and who could benefit from your expertise. To do that, set up Google alerts using search terms people would use for your company or industry.

If you're on Twitter, follow reporters on your list and find new ones to add by also following relevant topics. You can also subscribe to services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) or Profnet. HARO, which is free to join, sends out daily emails with reporter querying or sources for their stories. Profnet, which charges a fee to non-reporters, also supplies reporter queries and allows experts to register profiles, as well.  

Bonus tip: Once you get to know a reporter and especially if that reporter quotes you in a story, stay in touch. Drop a line every now an then with a comment about a current event or one of their recent stories or just to ask "Hey, what are you working on?"