Everyone’s a Journalist: Beyond the Beat

November 11th, 2010

This post first appeared on PRSA’s ComPRehension blog 11.10.10 and is cross-posted with permission.

This year’s PRSA 2010 International Conference was my 11th in the past 12 years. As the date approached, I found myself wondering if it was going to be worth it. Would I really learn something new?  Now that the Conference is over, I can report a resounding, “Yes!”

One of the sessions I attended was led by my BurrellesLuce colleague, Johna Burke (@gojohnab). She offered so many great tidbits of social media/media relations-related information that it would be impossible to include them all in this blog post. However, there’s one point that stood out the most to me.

Burke began by discussing the changing media landscape. For example, according to the Pew Research Center, some 44 percent of online news users get news at least a few times a week through e-mails, automatic updates or posts from social networking sites. You must decide where social media fits into the strategy, and how to take advantage of it.

She advises:

  • Participate in the dialogue, but don’t broadcast.
  • Messages need to work in tandem and support other messages. In other words, consistency is key.
  • Communicate to the whole organization, not just the media. Who are your other audiences? Who are our stakeholders?
  • Be where your audiences hang out online. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the “big three.”

So what about pitching via social media? Burke prefaced these best practices with her PR101 golden rule: everything is on the record!  She says, at the bare minimum, know what sort of journalist they are — print, online or “MOJO” (mobile journalist). You should also:

  • Know what they are writing about.
  • Think about how to build a relationship with them. Comment first, pitch later.
  • Find a way to provide information without giving away the scoop.
  • Tell them why they should care.
  • Do NOT send multiple requests to one reporter/blogger on multiple platforms. (You don’t want to stalk them!)

Obviously, not all of the tips are necessarily “new,” but there were new applications of old principles, and some were simply solid media relations refreshers.

Tressa Robbins, vice president, Media Contacts, BurrellesLuce, is a regular contributor to BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, a member of the St. Louis PRSA Chapter and a PRSSA mentor.  She recently served as a panelist for PRSSA’s National Conference and speaks at the local and regional level. Connect with Tressa on LinkedIn and follow Tressa on Twitter @tressalynne.

For more coverage on the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, visit PRSA Intelligence, follow #prsa_ic and the Conference blog.

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