by Kerry Martin
At yesterday’s Central Florida Media Mashup, the annual event hosted by the Orlando chapters of the Florida Public Relations Association and the Public Relations Society of America, PR practitioners got the inside scoop straight from the source on how best to work with the media. More than 20 journalist speakers shared their insight on what makes the best pitch, which industry trends are the most important and how to help make their jobs easier.
Their comments covered the gamut of “dos and don’ts” such as:
- Do keep your pitches short
- Don’t send unusable materials like tiny photos or quotes that can’t be attributed to anyone
- Do know the audience/beat of who you’re pitching
- Don’t waste their time by attaching your news release (paste it in the email)
With all of their tips and suggestions for how PR professionals can do a better job on engaging with the media, one recommendation stood out to me—it was an acknowledgment that journalists can’t always be the best at their job without some help.
Barbara Liston, a correspondent for Reuters, made the point in the first session that, for the most part, reporters and writers have to be generalists; they have a wide breath of knowledge but sometimes not the depth to completely understand a topic that they’re reporting. Her challenge to the PR practitioners in the audience was to call her and her colleagues out if they’re missing the full story of an issue, and provide them the insight and background details so that they can add to it or write follow-up pieces telling the other perspective. She gave the example of complex legislative issues with multiple sides that journalists haven’t explored because they’re not experts on the subject.
The group’s collective suggestions on smart pitching means professional communicators have to work harder on the front end; Barbara’s insight means it’s just as important to stay in touch with reporters after the story runs.