29 August 2012 by Mary Rose Macaranas
A few weeks ago, several Arketians attended a PRSA Georgia Luncheon on “Maestros of Media: Conducting the News Business in Real Time.” During the session, PR practitioners got a sneak peek inside the mind of the recipients of their pitches with insights, tips and pet peeves.
Panelists included Jennifer Brett (@AJCbuzz), columnist and feature reporter from the Atlanta Journal Constitution; Terrence Reid, producer at The Weather Channel; Duane Stanford, food & beverage writer with Bloomberg BusinessWeek; Michelle Williams, regional director – South at Associated Press; and Caleb J. Spivak (@WhatNowAtlanta), founder and blogger with What Now Atlanta.
Below are a few takeaways from the session:
- The (social media) news release is NOT dead – There was a general consensus that the print news release is dead while the social media release is much more useful. In fact, one panelist urged that press releases should be able to be condensed and summarized in 140 characters or less. While it may be a given that releases should be available on the company’s site, it is often one of the key places reporters turn to, but should not be the be-all and end-all of the news effort.
- Visuals and/or audio are essential – As reporters move away from commodity news, some breaking stories actually begin online. While there were several examples from the organic beginnings of the flesh-eating disease to President Obama’s recent visit to the Varsity stories, pictures, videos, audio clips, etc. helped play a crucial role in each of the story’s outcome.
- Avoid attachments – Now that you have a tailored pitch with an interesting angle, be sure to check with the beat reporter on how he/she prefers to receive attachments. Attaching large files or embedding videos can often land your well-crafted pitch in the spam folder. Instead, send a link, embed code or use a service such as YouSendIt or DropBox. Helping reporters find a different angle to a breaking story and offering photos, infographics, etc., can help you develop relationships while pleasing both parties.
- Understand the changing business landscape – Although knowing the reporter and their beat may sound like something from PR 101, it continues to be the main tip reporters continue to emphasize. Editors, producers and reporters are under immense pressure for speed and content than they ever have been. Therefore, it’s no surprise that your pitch may get about three seconds to catch the recipient’s attention. When developing that pitch, think like a reporter, understand their priorities and beat and include accompanying materials when relevant to pique the reporter’s interest.
Before you send that news release filled with fluff to a reporter you’ve never reached out to before, do your homework on that person and publication, think out of the box to find the news story and angle, and send a personalized pitch with relevant materials.