by Erica Shuckies, Account Executive, Business Wire/Austin
During a particularly busy news week for Austin media, the Business Wire Austin office hosted a “Meet the Media” luncheon, featuring Colin Pope, editor of the Austin Business Journal; Corrie MacLaggan, national correspondent for Reuters; and Bonnie Gonzalez, morning live reporter for Your News Now Austin. Paying mind to the notion that “news happens”, the luncheon was smack dab in the middle of preparation for the inaugural Formula 1 US Grand Prix race and memorial services for legendary University of Texas football coach, Darrell K Royal. Needless to say, we were glad to have the panel available to chat with us.
The conversation focused around the increasingly evolving worlds of public relations and news; specifically, how the media’s day-to-day operations are affected by these changes. Topics included the growth of social media (among both reporters and PR professionals), the importance of multimedia in PR, and the differing preferences among media outlets.
Colin Pope mentioned something that is a good reminder for us all before pitching any media: “remember your audience”. Every pitch should be catered to the individual to whom you are speaking, and each person could have a different preferred method of contact. Follow and interact with them on social media, read past stories they’ve covered, and look through their bios. You will often discover that one reporter prefers email communications, while another loves to chat on social media. As an example of this, Bonnie Gonzalez noted that she uses Facebook for story discovery and research, while Corrie MacLaggan sticks to Twitter. If you skip over this important step, your news will most likely get lost among the many hundreds of story ideas these people see each day.
Moderator Raschanda Hall, from the Business Wire Chicago office, posed an interesting question for the panel: how ethical is the use of social media by reporters for breaking news? Colin Pope answered it best by noting that the job of a reporter is to pass news to the public. As long as they use good judgment and follow any organizational guidelines, how they decide to disseminate that news is up to them.
Here are a few more key takeaways from the event:
- Keep your press releases short and to the point. Too often, the lead in a release will be buried under ‘fluffy’ information leading up to the important details.
- Target your pitches and press releases to the right individuals. Do your homework and don’t waste their time. Keep in mind that the media has increasing sets of responsibilities, yet the same amounts of time to accomplish all of the extra tasks.
- Visuals are a BIG deal. Not only do visuals make the story more likely to get read, but they also give the journalist another aspect of the story to use, enhancing the final product and making their job easier.
- If you are going to add multimedia to a press release/pitch, make sure it is a professional, high-quality file. Color files are always a plus.
- Let the media know that you (or a spokesperson) are available as a subject expert in your industry. When journalists are writing a piece about a particular industry, they often like to have outside sources comment on the story. Just like that, you gain easy exposure for yourself and your company!