It was a little strange being on the audience side of the room at the PRSA media relations breakfast Nov. 18. As the recipient of thousands upon thousands of calls and emails from public relations professionals during my years as business editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I have a pretty good idea of what works.
I definitely know what doesn’t work.
But the tips from Greg Gilligan, business editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Lara Malbon McDuffie, assignment manager, WWBT-NBC12; and Dena Potter, news editor-Virginia, West Virginia, The Associated Press, on best ways to work with the media provided an excellent refresher.
The discussion also pointed out how dramatically the news business has changed in the last few years. The question is: Have you also changed? “There are fewer of us doing legitimate news,” Potter said, “and it makes your job harder because of more competition for our time.”
What hasn’t changed is that reporters still want to break something big, to get it first, to report stories that have impact. So what should you keep in mind when contacting a daily newspaper, a local television station or a statewide news organization?
1. Know your audience and target your pitches accordingly.
2. Be mindful of deadlines.
The end of the day isn’t prime for anyone unless it is truly breaking news. And if you are seeking event coverage, the longer the lead time, the better.
3. Build relationships.
Get to know who covers what and contact the right editor and reporter instead of blanketing a newsroom.
4. Perfect the pitch.
Short and focused. Think who, what, when, where and why.
5. Deliver what you promise.
Considering these points, how do the panelists grade Richmond-area PR pros?
- The AP gives a B- (there’s a need for more statewide focus).
- NBC12 awards an A- or B+;
- The T-D gives Richmond professionals a B+ for understanding the paper’s needs and national practitioners’ a D for pitching stories with no local relevance.
Pam Feibish is one of the newest additions to the Rhudy & Co. team. She shares her editorial expertise in developing content for our clients internal and external stories.