I was privileged to attend the 8th Annual Publicity Summit on Sept. 29 in Phoenix. It was organized by the Phoenix chapters of the Public Relations Society of America and Society of Professional Journalists. The summit rightfully took place at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Public relations professionals, journalists and editors from TV, radio, newspapers, magazines as well as community bloggers in the Valley participated in the Summit. I found the event informative as I traveled to Arizona for mid-career professional development. I thought I should share my key takeaways from the Publicity Summit.
‘Elevator pitches put me to sleep’
Jodie Heisner offered her tips on how to pitch journalists during her keynote presentation. When pitching journalists, it is all about looking your very best in a short amount o time. Her tips include:
• Cut 5 ‘W’s to 3 : Condense what you need to say in shortest amount of time. Cut the five ‘W’s to three and hit them with why, what, and how your story can be told.
• Body language: If you want people to be interested in what you are saying use your hands, smile, and sit or stand up.
• Time wasters: Ignore the formalities and do not bother about re your bio. There is also no time for ‘brown-nosing’. In fact some people may find that really uncomfortable.
The basics: the main thing is to convince the journalist as to why your story needs to be covered. Is it new? Unique? A good fit? Does it have visual? A new trend?
Follow up: after the pitch, send an email to the journalist within 24 hours. It is also good idea to write a note on your business card before handing it out.
What do journalists need?
The journalist and bloggers shed more lights on what they expect from PRs. I must admit that some were pretty basic, but interestingly enough they are found to be overlooked by PR.
No fax please! Send emails and no attachment. Text only formats are preferred to easily transfer information to other formats.
Who are you? When email, indicate who you are on the subject line until they know you. If you are emailing a press release also indicate the name of your organization and date on the subject line.
Who are you sending? Know who you need to send your press release or pitch. If you don’t know, call and find out who the right person and make your address line personal.
Phone calls? Phone calls can be too difficult and time consuming. It is effective if you email your pitch first and then place a follow up phone call.
‘Pitch me in a twitter form’. The journalists attention will mainly be focusing on the subject line and the first sentence. So, keep it succinct.
Save something sweet: It works when you save something interesting for later. If you add that information during your follow up phone call, you can make it work.
Do your research: research and find out for instance about deadlines and area of interest about the media you want to pitch. Be familiar with the news room and how to approach them. If you are working with clients, make sure that have identified the right spokesperson or expert.
Honesty: If clients are not good communicator, it helps if the journalists are informed in advance.
Social media: Don’t ignore the social media and don’t underestimate twitters. More and more stories are being picked from there.
Your neighbours: Get to know the community bloggers around you. Working with bloggers get news of event spread but make sure you have enough information about the blogger.
No surprise! Your community newspaper might get up to 400 pitches a day and the local TV station over 800. So don’t be surprised or take it personally if you don’t get a reply after sending out press releases.
Show your passion: “If your story is compelling enough and you are passionate about it, it should sell itself” Paul Ihander,
Finally, beware of the time! Plan your campaign in advance and share your press release or pitch in advance.
Do you have more Tips to add?