Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Morning Joe Shows Us Why Print Matters

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
Morning Joe Shows Us Why Print Matters Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR MSNBC print media media monitoring news clipping

screen grab of Morning Joe on MSNBC

If you caught Tuesday’s episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, you might have noticed that beneath all the political ballyhoo, something pretty notable happened. In the first three minutes of the segment you’ll notice a prominent prop. That’s right – it’s the front sections of The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Leaving all politics where they belong – on the side – this segment is a remarkable demonstration of the influence that print newspapers still yield. The entire beginning of the segment is not only structured around the content of a newspaper, but the anchors also wave it around prominently for three whole minutes. There aren’t many things that say “Newspapers matter” more than that.

MSNBC could have shown the anchors on their tablets viewing the paper’s digital edition, or they could have brought up a graphic of the homepage on the screen, but they didn’t. Why?

Because the front page is still notable. Despite our digital era, what goes on the front page of a newspaper is way more noteworthy because there’s not infinite space, and what goes on there is permanent. You can’t change out the headline after a few hours – once it’s the headline, that’s it.

The digital front page doesn’t have the same gravitas that the paper front page does because it’s the opposite of all those things: it’s impermanent and it changes in real time. Of course, digital news is still important, as Americans are accessing news digitally on many devices throughout the day. But homepages don’t command as much influence or as many eyes as the digital content.

The segment also shows that people just read print versions differently. People may trust print more (ironic given the content of the Morning Joe segment) than online because of its permanence. So thank you, Morning Joe, for reminding us just how much print matters – and why it’s not going away.


Pitching Tips from Washington, D.C. Assignment Editors

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

3/13/12 Know your subject, know the outlet you are trying to pitch and its audience, and have some “news” sense—that was the message from four of Washington’s top editors to over 100 public relations professionals attending PRSA-NCC’s “Meet the Assignment Editors” workshop at the Navy Memorial. Shown in picture are Lois Dyer, CBS News; moderator Danny Selnick, Business Wire; Vandana Sinha, Washington Business Journal; Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post; and Lisa Matthews, Associated Press.

Keep it simple and to the point and avoid jargon. This sage advice from Washington, DC assignment editors should not come as a shock to most seasoned PR pros, but listening to the panel at the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA-NCC) March 13 event, you might be surprised.

The panel was moderated by Danny Selnick, Business Wire, and featured  Lisa Matthews, Associated Press, planning editor; Vandana Sinha, Washington Business Journal, assistant ,managing editor; Lois Dyer, CBS News Network, futures editorand Steven Ginsberg, Washington Post, deputy political editor

Platforms for Pitching

  • Email: All of the panelists agreed email is the best format for pitching them. They suggested using a short subject line that highlights the story. They do not like it when the main subject is hidden and hate pitches that start with “A great story idea for you.”
  • Voicemail: Ginsberg does not check his voicemail, but Dyer does. Most said they would respond to your email or voicemail if they were interested (and sometimes if they were not), so the follow-up “Did you get my email?” call is often not needed. If you don’t hear from them, a call with a fresh reminder of the subject in a day or two is acceptable.
  • Twitter: Twitter can be an effective way to pitch your story according to Ginsberg. He said all the Post reporters are on Twitter most-of-the-time, and you can learn about their needs from their tweets. You should consider becoming an expert on Twitter for the subject(s) you pitch most often.
  • Multi-Channels: All panelists reminded the audience they have multiple platforms to fill with content. For example, the Washington Post is not just the print paper, but several websites and apps. Matthews says all the AP reporters write and shoot their own stories for various sites and platforms.  

Top Pitching Tips:
The PRSA-NCC audience actively shared many tips and highlights of the event. I’ve created a Storify of some of the top tweets and posts.


  • Know your audience (the media outlet’s audience) – Sinha stressed the Washington Business Journal covers only local business news. They do not care about national stories.
  • Respect deadlines – Sinha also hates pitches coming in right before her Wednesday afternoon deadline for the print edition. Early Friday afternoon is an ideal time to pitch her.
  • Know what you are pitching and have answers for questions.
  • Give the editor or reporter access to your client (spokesperson). Offer experts who can speak around issues of breaking news
  • Include current contact information on the release.
  • Think about and pitch stories for future happenings or trends.
  • Understand the need and provide visuals which can enhance the story – Both Matthews and Dyer confirmed outside video content is only used in extreme cases, where there is no other place to get the footage.

Do Not  

  • Send pitches to someone else in the newsroom if you are turned-down by the editor.
  • Send multiple separate emails.(However, it is OK to copy relevant reporters on a pitch).
  • Say you just got coverage in a competitor’s publication
  • Sound like a commercial, you can bet your pitch or press release will be deleted.

Want more tips on writing effective messages and pitches? Check out the latest BurrellesLuce Newsletter: Writing Effective Messages – 5 Timeless Tips. And be sure to share your hints for contacting editors with  BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

Missouri State University PRSSA Day: Media Myths

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

mascom_PRSSA_smallLast week, I was honored to be a part of Missouri State University’s PRSSA Day as a speaker on social media misconceptions. One of the myths that we discussed was “Social media will soon replace traditional media as the most viable source of news,” and I wanted to elaborate on that point. 

At least once every week, or so it seems, someone comes out with a “Traditional media is dead” article or warns that “We shouldn’t waste time on traditional media and advertising.” As a matter of fact, I read an article several months ago about a survey on the subject by PR/PA agency mergers and acquisition consultants, StevensGouldPincus. SGP managing partner, Art Stevens was quoted as saying, “If this trend persists within the next two years social media will replace traditional media as PR/PA’s primary tool for reaching client audiences with news and information. When you consider that traditional media have been the bedrock of professional PR/PA practice for more than 100 years, the implications are profound.”

I’ll concede that the preferred vehicle for news distribution is definitely shifting to digital, real-time and even mobile platforms and I’ll agree that the implications are profound to communicators and consumers alike; however, the source of most of that content remains the same: The percentage of original content found on social media pales in comparison to traditional media. In reality, most news content is first published in the print or web editions of major news outlets, and then syndicated or picked up on social media networks and blogs, confirms this BurrellesLuce newsletter on “Social Media Myths and Misconceptions“.

In fact, according to a Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism study last year, “Blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press — and primarily just a few outlets within that — for their information. More than 99 percent of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four — the BBC, CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post accounted for fully 80 percent of all links.”

So, let’s face it, without traditional media, in whatever form, there would be very little news to fuel social media. Will that change in the future? Perhaps. But as of today, traditional media is NOT dead.

Even if it is, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all… Because as Seth Godin recently wrote in a post entitled, Bring Me Something Dead: “Dead means that they are no longer interesting to the drive-by technorati. Dead means that the curiosity factor has been satisfied, that people have gotten the joke… Only when an innovation is dead can the real work begin. That’s when people who are seeking leverage get to work, when we can focus on what we’re saying, not how (or where) we’re saying it…”

What do you think the future holds?

The Future Can’t Come Fast Enough for the News Industry and It’s Looking a Little Brighter

Friday, May 28th, 2010
Image Courtesy of DC Comics

Image Courtesy of DC Comics

It would be hard to imagine the fictional newspaper men (and women) of the past like Perry White of the “Daily Planet” (Superman) hollering for their first quarter numbers of “unique visitors per month” or boasting about their ranking for “most-linked-to-news-outlets” or even deliberating about putting their content behind a “pay-wall.” Today these are just some of the relatively new terms being used to describe the various metrics and business models newspapers are exploring during this transitional period in which the entire industry finds itself. 

For the last several years the forecasts for news organizations have been filled with doom and gloom. However the news about the news industry has been much rosier as of late. For starters, newspaper website’s traffic continues to grow. As highlighted in this Media Post article, online newspaper operations from the top 25 media outlets reached 83.7 million unique visitors in April, up 10 percent from March, 12 percent from February and 15 percent from January of this year, according to comscore figures released by the Newspaper National Network. And according to Nielsen, 74.4 million unique visitors per month in the first quarter of 2010 were a record – up from 72 million from the first quarter of 2009. These increases were actually higher than competitors like CNN and The Huffington post who came in at 43.4 million (flat) and 22.2 million (a 3 percent drop) respectively.

(For a list of the top 100 daily newspapers, 25 consumer magazines, 25 blogs, and the 20 social networks in the U.S., check out the updated 2010 Top Media List from BurrellesLuce.)

It is obvious from these figures that, as Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt was recently quoted as saying, “Newspapers don’t have a demand problem they have a business model problem.”

As various business models continue to be tested, measured and debated within the industry, a silver bullet has yet to emerge. So far, it appears that several viable solutions are taking shape and depending on who you ask you’ll get a justification for each of them. According to this article on, “Last year Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of The Wall Street Journal’s parent company News Corp., said ‘The current free access business model favored by most content providers was flawed and contributed to a fall in newspapers’ revenues.’” The WSJ is currently behind a pay-wall and “he also claimed the Wall Street Journal had proved that charging for content could be made to work pointing out that 360,000 people had downloaded an iPhone WSJ application in three weeks and that users would soon be made to pay “handsomely” for accessing WSJ content.”

Alternatively, The New Times plans to use a metered system (EZ Pass approach) starting January 2011, where a certain number of articles would be free before demanding payment (similar to what Financial Times is currently using). This may solve their monetization challenge, but it will no doubt affect their “most-linked-to-news-outlets” rank, a measure used to track the amount of people who actually clicked-through to the original news organizations website via a blog or third party source. This could significantly impact results, with 99 percent of the stories bloggers include as links coming from traditional mainstream media sources. Interestingly enough, 80 percent of the stories linked to in online and social media come from only four news outlets: The New York Times (20 percent), BBC news (23 percent), (21 percent), and the Washington Post (16 percent). The Wall Street Journal has twice the print circulation as the New York Times, but  is not on this short list. 

Some pay-wall advocates would argue that the majority of these visitors are merely “drive by users” who come in once through an aggregator and don’t really engage with the product. The counter argument claims more traffic directed to a newspaper’s online site would ultimately translate into higher advertising dollars.

If the numbers prove the demand for news content is there, let’s hope for the news industry’s sake the revenue will follow. In my opinion credible news journalism still trumps all. As long as it’s being distributed through the device of choice, engaged by the readers, and monetized in a way that generates revenue without isolating readers – it doesn’t matter whether it’s done through pay-walls, online advertising, or possibly something we haven’t thought of yet. (After all necessity is the mother of all inventions.) A tall order for the news industry for sure, but the future suddenly looks a whole lot brighter. There’s no doubt the identity of the news industry will change, but a reinvented news organization is still better than none at all.