by Simon Ogus, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Washington, DC
Business Wire/ Washington, DC recently hosted a technology media panel with some of the leading journalists in the area to discuss the latest trends in the world of technology reporting. Among the topics discussed were how reporters utilize social media, how to most effectively organize a pitch and the best ways to get a reporter’s attention in this fast-paced news cycle.
It was an honor to moderate the panel, which included five established names in the Washington, DC technology reporting industry:
Paul Sherman, Editor and Publisher of Potomac Tech Wire (@PaulRSherman)
Bill Flook, Reporter, Washington Business Journal (@TechFlashWBJ)
Rob Pegoraro, Freelancer, previously with The Washington Post (@RobPegoraro)
Nick Wakeman, Editor-In-Chief, Washington Technology (@Nick_Wakeman)
Andrew Feinberg, Freelancer, previously with The Hill (@agfhome)
On Social Media: Twitter and LinkedIn
The panelists, all active on Twitter, agreed that social media outlets allow them to read and follow news and trends in a timely manner while also enabling them to connect and communicate with many individuals through a common platform. One downside to communicating through Twitter, they noted, is the overwhelming amount of information they must sort through to find those topics they can actually write about. Feinberg made the analogy that Twitter is like “attempting to take a drink of water out of a fire hose” – a sentiment that was unanimously agreed to.
That isn’t to say that news can’t be shared on Twitter between public relations professionals and reporters, only that the task has become a bit more difficult in the last couple years. As Sherman explained, “The big news breaks fast on Twitter, but often times the small news can’t get through the noise.” This has led reporters to seek out information on other platforms. The panelists considered LinkedIn as another valuable social media resource, as it provides the reporter more background than a Twitter profile might about who is messaging them. Overall, however, the panel finds Twitter to be very useful, but is primarily best for fast and short conversations.
On capturing a journalist’s interest
The panelists agreed that the content of the press releases is always king to attract those reporters most interested in a particular topic. And, because these panelists are all based in the greater Washington, DC area, they are always on the lookout for news that will uncover the latest Washington, DC story. They stressed how local news content is always the best for them in a news release/pitch and suggested focusing on transactions that are happening in this area.
Wakeman suggested that the best way to catch his eye is to “have your story align with trends, specifically economic trends.” For Pegoraro, the releases he said he finds most appealing describe “companies and individuals solving long-running problems through technology.” He stressed that buzzwords don’t provide much of an impact on the news releases and recommended producing copy that enhances your release with a strong descriptive headline.
Tailor your pitch for a mobile device
Pegoraro also noted that because reporters are more often checking their emails on the go, it’s a good idea to be mindful of the readability of a news release or pitch on a smart phone. He suggested first testing the email pitch on a personal smart phone and also including the more important pieces of information at the top of the email.
Consider the reporter’s deadlines
The panelists preferred being contacted during their business hours. Understanding each reporter’s deadlines is also important. For example, Flook described how the early hours of his workday are devoted to sending the “TechFlash” email and so he may not be responsive to emails or calls at that time.
Don’t just pitch events as news, pitch something about the event
The panelists agreed that there are too many events and not enough resources to cover them. They recommended that news about an event include something that occurred or was discussed at an event. They felt this could also help save a lot of effort on the public relations side to promote something specific within an event that would be relevant to the reporter instead of a general release about the event itself.
Incorporating newswire distribution
The Q&A session revealed that all five panelists currently receive Business Wire’s technology copy and provided insight as to the importance placed on copy received in this manner. Sherman told the audience he “checks Business Wire’s copy every day” and Wakeman said he has “relied on Business Wire for years.” In addition to the releases being easy-to-view, other requirements in place for wire-distributed copy are a bonus to journalists. Pegoraro mentioned that he has often been interested in a release submitted directly by a company, but has found it frustrating when he’s unable to locate a point of contact in order to follow up. He said that when releases come through a newswire service, these types of omissions are rare.
Thank you panelists!
We’d like to thank our panelists again for their valuable insights to public relations professionals and communicators.
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