Understand who you are pitching and the beat or beats the cover. Like past panels, this year’s Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) Media Roundtable wanted to get across that message. The panel exchanged best practices and ways to gain better understanding of both positions from the perspective of those pitching and those being pitched.
The panel moderated by WWPR president Tina Beaty included: Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter and politics managing editor, The Huffington Post, Melissa Romero, staff writer for the Washingtonian, as well as health and wellness writer for the Washingtonian’s blog Well+Being, Molly Walker, editor, for trade publication FierceMarkets’ Enterprise IT group, writing regularly for FierceMobileGovernment, FierceGovernmentIT and FierceContentManagement, Amy Harder, energy and environment correspondent, National Journal.
Social media plays a large role in promoting stories, says Terkel. She says to think about how a headline will look in 140 characters. The panel was not in favor of social media pitches, though. They were open to sharing information via Twitter if a relationship has already been established. Romero commented on using Twitter direct message to share email addresses, when the PR person does not have her address.
Media Relations Tips from the WWPR Roundtable Panel
- Email is still the best way to contact them, but don’t have an intern follow-up with a call 40 minutes later. A phone call may be appropriate if the pitch is time-sensitive.
- Don’t be afraid to help them put the links together for a story and suggest other people to interview or places to gather more information.
- Speed is important, so have a good subject line.
- Do not let multiple members of the team pitch the same story to them. Only one pitch is needed.
- If using a mail merge program to blast email press releases or pitches, check them first. It is annoying to see their name in all caps, spelled wrong or missing and inserted with an outlet name.
- Exclusives are still important and will help you win the pitch.
- Press conferences are useful for sharing thought leadership, Walker says. Terkel suggested outlining why she should attend in a pitch email.
- Don’t shy away from pitching a small blog to get an exclusive review and then use that post for pitching a larger media outlet.
The panel turned to discussing the future of print media. All panelists agreed they do not want to see print go away, but added they all work on the digital side. They feel being able link to other stories and information adds credibility to their work. Digital media makes it easy to add information or make corrections to a story.
I’ve previously posted media relations tips from the Washington, DC assignment editors on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. You can check it out here. What other tips would you add? How are you working with digital media journalists?