by Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor, Business Wire
There was no shortage when it came to the turnout of PR professionals, journalists and communicators who gathered at Union Square Boardroom in downtown Seattle the day after the national election (Nov. 7, 2012) for what is being hailed as the Emerald City’s premiere media speed dating event and a mandate on future media events.
Eyes were blurry but spirits high as attendees got the opportunity to spend 15-minute micro sessions with four of the eight journalists in attendance. These PR and communications pros were able to quiz the media on everything from how their news outlet reported election results to proper ways to pitch their respective media organizations to the continued blending of old and new journalism. The journalists, in turn, had the opportunity to educate the PR Community on their preferred methods of being pitched, how they’re using social media what they’re looking for when it comes to local stories.
Media in attendance included:
- Becky Bisbee, Business Editor, The Seattle Times
- Ethan Chung, Deputy Editor, 425 & South Sound magazines and VP, Society of Professional Journalists (Western Washington)
- John Cook, Co-founder, GeekWire
- Greg Lamm, Banking and Finance Reporter, Puget Sound Business Journal
- Holly Smith Peterson, Reporter, Business Examiner and Co-host, South Sound Business Report
- Amy Rolph, News Gatherer, Seattle PI
- Linda Thomas, Senior Features Reporter and Digital Journalist, KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com
- Cynthia Wise, Senior Assignments Editor, KING 5
The event was moderated by the great Roger Nyhus, President & CEO of Nyhus Communications and truly a tremendous MC. Many, many tips and tidbits were shared during the 90 minute luncheon – here are some of the better ones (at least in my opinion):
- The phone might be the toughest way to reach someone from the media these days: email, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all generally far better options
- The Subject Line of Your Email: Make it compelling or at least attention-getting in a clever way, it is truly the best way to get someone at the paper/TV station/blog to notice your story – avoid putting “press release,” “PR,” or anything overtly self-serving in the subject line
- Don’t forget anybody when pitching: Find out who the best local bloggers/podcasters/freelancers are in your area and build a relationship with them
- The Local Angle: If you can find a way to make your news relevant to the locals (be that business or human interest or product development) the media will love that – because the people who live near the Puget Sound like hearing about news relevant to where they live
- Emotion: A story with emotion is always worth doing – but it must make people feel something
- Relationships: Your much more likely to get your news in the hands of a member of the media if said media member knows you – take the time necessary to cultivate relationships with your local media
- Take it Easy: Don’t be obnoxious and/or overzealous (multiple follow-up calls will put you in very bad standing) – it’s ok to be persistent but be professional and that same courtesy should be extended to you
- Time: Be mindful of the required lead time of the outlet your pitching – while some media can run stories immediately, others need days and/or weeks of lead time
- The Human Element: You need to know more about the people involved with a company to get at the story so think about pitching the emotional connection (when applicable) – people within a company (and probably not the CEO) are the ones that are going to help readers/viewers relate to it
- Multimedia: Links, photos, video, etc. are welcomed and encouraged in your pitches/press releases – anything to give the story more context is helpful
Keeping these tips in mind should help you the next time you need to pitch the Seattle media. But, as in life, it’s different strokes for different folks so the main message here is to really research and do your homework on the publications and people you’ll be pitching. As in life, a little effort goes a long way.
Business Wire would like to thank all of the journalists who took the time out of their busy days to join us and share their knowledge. We’d also like to thank Roger Nyhus for keeping the dating speedy & organized while also keeping the crowd chuckling. And we’d like to thank our guests for their attendance and participation. Lastly, special thanks to BW Seattle editor Brian Matt for all his help with the event.
Business Wire Seattle will be hosting a client/media reception in the very near future so please stay tuned to our events calendar.