Philadelphia Business Editors Discuss Changes in the Newsroom, Useful Pitching Tips

December 15, 2010

By: Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist/DC

Business Wire/Philadelphia hosted a “Meet the Editors” event on Tuesday, December 7th. The panel discussion, moderated by Cecile Oreste of Business Wire, featured Craig Ey, Editor of the Philadelphia Business Journal, and Brian Toolan, Business Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. More than 60 public relations and communications professionals attended the event at the Union League of Philadelphia. Attendees contributed to the conversation in a question and answer section and also by live tweeting the event using the #BWEvents hash tag.

Brian Toolan, Business Editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Unique Angle

Ey and Toolan started the discussion by defining what makes their publications unique. Ey pointed out that the Business Journal finds story angles that would appeal to small- and medium-sized business owners. Their readership comes from selling their expertise and the long tenure of their reporting staff. Toolan of the Inquirer said the paper prides itself in providing exclusive information with real consequence. He pointed out that there is a lot of money left on the table for any story. It just depends on how curious you are as a reporter.

Role of Social Media

Both editors said there is still much to learn about social media and its role in the newsroom, but agreed that the tools are useful for monitoring trends and confirming information with sources. These resources can serve as an early warning about what is happening in a particular industry and also be the first alert for breaking news.

Looking to the Future

In regards to the future of their respective media outlets, Ey talked about the importance of attracting younger readers and changing the perception of the publication so it’s not “your daddy’s paper.” He discussed the editorial decision to include more stories about restaurants and retail, two topics that seem to appeal to a younger demographic. For the Inquirer, creating a successful business model for online news is imperative to the publication’s growth. Toolan mentioned mobile technologies and apps as playing an integral part in this process.

Craig Ey, Editor, Philadelphia Business Journal

Pitching Advice

In addition, Toolan and Ey provided useful pitching and media relations tips. Toolan stressed the need for releases to be newsworthy. Think about what the story means for the readership of the paper and make sure it includes fresh and interesting information. Ey mentioned the Seven Principles for Business Journal Reporters which public relations professionals can take into consideration when writing their press releases. The tips are paraphrased below:

1)      Answer the questions: So what? Who cares?

2)      Write and edit short.

3)      Think about visuals for every story.

4)      Dig up news.

5)      Identify the money element in every story.

6)      Provide solid news so readers can more effectively run their businesses.

7)      We cover business. Exclusively.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Online News Association 2010 Conference Recap

November 8, 2010

By: Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire Media Relations Specialist Cecile Oreste was among the 1,200 media professionals in attendance at the Online News Association (ONA) 2010 Conference in Washington, DC. Online journalists, educators and students from around the country came to the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel Thursday, October 28th through Saturday, October 30th to learn from leaders in the industry, including AOL and NPR among others.

The four day conference started on Thursday with a variety of hands-on workshops including photography, video and audio field trips that shared best practices and techniques. ONA also organized a career summit and job fair featuring recruiters from American Public Media, Associated Press, Bloomberg Government, Gannett and Mashable. Yahoo! News sponsored the opening night reception at The Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, where attendees took in some local culture in between appetizers and drinks.

TBD, Washington’s hyperlocal news source, started off Friday morning with their keynote session, “Starting from Scratch.” Laura McGann, Assistant Editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, moderated the discussion between General Manager Jim Brady, Social Media Producer Mandy Jenkins, Director of Community Engagement Steve Buttry and TBD Editor Erik Wemple. During the keynote event, McGann questioned Wemple’s decision to devote prime real estate to TBD.com’s feature “The List.” Wemple’s response generated several tweets and also lots of laughs. He suggested that if you don’t have something terrible on your site, then you’re not trying hard enough. You have to fail many times before you get it right, he said.

Saturday’s sessions began with a keynote discussion about Wikileaks and also featured a lunch with Knight News Challenge winners. Other Saturday sessions included “Turning Bits into Bucks,” which discussed entrepreneurial journalism; and “Ten Tech Trends in ’10″ with Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia Group, an international digital media consulting firm that advises companies on emerging technology. In addition, Webb is on the Board of Directors for ONA and will serve as Chair of the association’s new Advisory Board.

Some of the trends Webb discussed during her session included the 2011 tablets coming to market and mobile image scanning (QR codes). According to Webb, these two topics, along with open source technology and design, were major themes throughout the conference. “Lots of journalists are eager to use web tools to enhance the work they do, and there were many opportunities this year to learn all about the latest offerings,” she said.

Tanja Aitamurto, Innovation Journalism Fellow at Stanford and blogger for The Huffington Post, said the conference provided insight on new production and business models in journalism, and also introduced the idea of journalism as only one of many products media organizations offer. She brought up a positive message presented by Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune during the “Fund My Media 2.0″ session on Thursday. According to Smith, there is still need for high-quality journalism; and where there is demand, there will be ways to produce and fund it. Aitamurto also added that in order for journalism to succeed in the future, “innovation, open mindedness and experiments are very much needed.”

The conference concluded Saturday night with the Online Journalism Awards Banquet. Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour brought the laughs as the master of ceremonies while MSNBC.com, NPR, ProPublica and CNN.com took home top honors.

Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to learn from and network with online journalism professionals. It also maintained a positive outlook on the future of journalism during a time when news organizations face a number of challenges. For more information about the Online News Association, please visit their website at www.journalists.org.


Media Relations in the Digital Age Event Recap

July 15, 2010

by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire DC

Members of the Business Wire/DC team were in attendance at Media Relations in the Digital Age held at the US Navy Memorial & Heritage Center on Wednesday, July 14th.  The event, which was organized by the Professional Development Committee of the PRSA – National Capital Chapter, welcomed four journalists – Ceci Connolly, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, Greg Ip and Jordan Rau – to discuss “how to fearlessly pitch big-league media and get big-time results.”

Ceci Connolly

Ceci Connolly

Ceci Connolly is the national health policy correspondent for the Washington Post.  She has been a staff writer at the Post for over a decade and has covered politics, health care and several major disasters.  Prior to joining the newspaper in 1997, she covered politics for Congressional Quarterly and worked at the Washington bureau of the St. Petersburg Times.

According to Ceci, public relations practitioners need to think strategically about which news organizations they are targeting.  “The more you can be targeted, the more you can be effective,” she said.  Assist reporters by providing factual information with credible sources, understanding deadlines and knowing what beats they cover.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for the Washington bureau of Marketplace.  Previously, she worked as a newscaster for NPR and WAMC in Albany, New York, as well as an anchor at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Nancy reminded the audience that “the early bird gets the worm.”  Send pitches with plenty of lead time and plan events around days when journalists may not be as busy.  Mondays, Fridays and holidays work best.  Marketplace will generally be seeking out stories during these times.

Greg Ip

Greg Ip

Greg Ip is U.S. Economics Editor for The Economist and also contributes to The Economist’s blog Free Exchange.  Before joining The Economist in 2008, he served as chief economics correspondent of the Wall Street Journal and created the paper’s online blog Real Time Economics.

According to Greg, reporters at The Economist are generally looking for experts with deep knowledge about the subjects they are covering.  He suggests inserting your organization into the context of a story.  “Describe why something affects you in a positive or negative way.  Examples are very valuable,” he said.

Jordan Rau

Jordan Rau

Jordan Rau is a reporter for Kaiser Health News.  His KHN stories have been featured in publications such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as news sites including NPR.org and MSNBC.com.  Prior to joining Kaiser Health News, he covered government and health care politics for the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Concord Monitor.

When it comes to public relations, Jordan recommends focusing on “people, data and dish.”  Find people who are affected by the issue your organization is concerned about and truly illustrate the story.  Provide quantifiable data which can easily be used in a story.  Finally, don’t be afraid to dish out information about your competitors.  “Some of the most successful people in public relations are the experts in opposition research,” he said.  Pitches that suggest conflict with competitors often get more attention than stories that highlight your organization’s own products, services or success.


Looking to Target Political Media? Tips from Four Political Journalists

July 6, 2010

– by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

If you’re interested in politics, you may recognize the following names: Aaron Blake, Keith Koffler, Erin McPike and Shira Toeplitz.  These four reporters have worked for some of the top political media outlets in the country including POLITICO, National Journal, Roll Call and The Hill.

Despite covering one of the most fast-paced beats in journalism, Aaron, Keith, Erin and Shira took the time to share their views on public relations practices and provide helpful tips on how to pitch political media.

Keith Koffler

Keith Koffler

Keith Koffler is a veteran White House reporter who writes WhiteHouseDossier.com, an independent blog focusing on President Obama and his administration.  In addition to his experience covering the White House, he has also reported on Congress and Washington’s lobbyists at CongressDaily, the National Journal magazine and Roll Call.

When it comes to writing a release, don’t overlook the headline.  “The headline is important because it grabs your attention,” Keith said.  “Pump up your headline.  Make it new, unique or clever.”  In general, don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor.  Avoid using uniform templates and write a release that is enjoyable to read.

Aaron Blake

Aaron Blake is a political blogger for The Washington Post’s PostPolitics.com, which launched back in April.  Prior to joining the Post, he covered campaigns at The Hill newspaper and the Washington bureau of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Aaron talked about the importance of using the inverted pyramid method when writing a press release.  “Get to the point and show why I should care, but don’t provide too much information right away,” he said.  Draw the reader in with a short first paragraph with the most newsworthy information at the top of the release.  Continue to provide material in order of diminishing importance.

Shira Toeplitz

Shira Toeplitz is a national political reporter with POLITICO, the nation’s premiere online news outlet for politics.  Prior to her work at POLITICO, she covered campaigns for Roll Call, as well as presidential and state campaigns for National Journal’s “The Hotline,” a political tip sheet for Capitol insiders.

Shira added to Aaron’s point advising public relations practitioners to “put all of the relevant public figures as high as possible in the release.”  She also recommends writing a release that is relevant to the news of the hour as political journalism is extremely fast paced.  “If your issue is a hot topic currently on the campaign trail or on Capitol Hill, I will be more inclined to cover it in the context of the story I am writing,” she said.

Erin McPike

Erin McPike

Erin McPike covers Senate and House races at CongressDaily.  She also served as National Journal’s lead reporter for “Conventional Nightly” in 2008.  Before joining CongressDaily in 2008, she covered Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign on the road for NBC News.

Erin also talked about how to create content that would appeal to political reporters.  The release does not necessarily have to be about political issues, but can also discuss a constituency that is important to political figures — for example, a specific demographic group that politicians are trying to appeal to.  “Something that will move a coalition of people in one direction or the other may be of interest since politicians make maneuvers based on what their base is doing,” she said.  “The best releases also have good numbers, measurable information and concrete facts.”  This content is more likely than a lengthy quote to get picked up in a story.


Interview with Emilio Garcia-Ruiz of The Washington Post

June 9, 2010

– by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

I recently met with Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor for the Local section of The Washington Post, to talk about newsgathering trends and press release distribution.  Emilio has extensive knowledge of these topics, with more than 25 years of experience in the newspaper industry and a journalism degree from the University of Maryland.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz

Prior to being named the Local Editor last year, Emilio served as Sports Editor of The Washington Post and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where he directed an investigative series that uncovered academic fraud at the University of Minnesota and won reporter George Dohrmann the 2000 Pulitzer for beat reporting.  In addition, Emilio has worked for other top 100 dailies including the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times.

When asked about social media in relation to news gathering, Emilio said that the Post is using these tools to look for crowdsourcing ideas.  He mentioned Twitter being especially helpful for content during the big snowstorms in Washington this past winter.  Social networking tools have enabled journalists to engage in conversation with their readers.  They also allow reporters to follow organizations they cover for breaking news and announcements.  Although social media has become a major part of the newsgathering process, press releases still play a role.  The issue, however, is how to make your release stand out.

During our meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, Emilio received 10 press releases via e-mail – all of which were irrelevant to the Local section.  “If you’re going to send someone a press release, make sure you have the right contact, because if not they’re just going to delete it.  The best press releases are hyper-targeted to what we do.”

With the number of public relations practitioners outweighing the number of reporters, it’s more important than ever to think like a journalist when writing your release.  According to Emilio, “Many of the problems could be alleviated with some basic newspaper fundamentals.  Including who, what, where, when, how in the first paragraph.  That would be nice.  Get to your point quickly instead of writing in a convoluted way.  Just like a story, if a press release doesn’t work at the top, then you’re not going to continue reading.”

Above all, practitioners should remember that public relations is about relationships.  “The best chance to get to me is with a relationship,” Emilio added.  “My time is limited and when your time is limited, you deal with the people you know.”



Media Relations Best Practices: Tips From the Press

June 1, 2010

- by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Washington, DC

When it comes to media relations, journalists are the experts.  After all, they are one of the major audiences — if not the major audience — that public relations practitioners are ultimately looking to reach.  Here are some tips of the trade from various media outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Associated Press, Federal News Radio and Bucks County Courier Times/The Intelligencer.

1. Be available . . . always.

Stacey Burling is a health care reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.  According to Stacey, “My biggest pet peeve is people who send out press releases, then don’t return a phone call when I have a question about it.  When you send out a release, you, or someone on your staff, should expect to be quickly available to answer questions for at least a couple days.”

Mark Hamrick, on-air correspondent and online video producer for the Associated Press in Washington, DC, also stresses the importance of being readily available.  Mark recommends providing easy access to media relations personnel.  Include information on your release that will enable journalists to contact you any time of day.

2. Think about your story in relation to the media outlet you are pitching.

It would serve public relations professionals well to think about what medium is best for their story before contacting a journalist, says Mark.  Some stories are better for audio, while others are better for video.  Some work best in print.  Know which ones work for your story and tailor your release accordingly.

Julia Ziegler, Web/Operations Manager of WFED-AM Federal News Radio, adds that you should think about how you want your story to appear in the media.  Is your story visually compelling?  If so, provide pictures or links to video which can be embedded.  Journalists are much more likely to use the tools that are provided if they are given up front.

3. Know who you want to target and customize your release accordingly.

Learn who is covering your industry and find out who actually wants the information you are providing, says Julia.  It is best to define your audience and target the media outlets that are reaching them rather than sending your release to everyone.  According to Julia, “The biggest publication is not always your biggest ally.”

Rachel Canelli, education reporter/video correspondent for Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer, adds that one of her pet peeves is “[when] PR people get pushy about something that’s clearly not applicable to this area.”  Grab her attention by clearly defining the local angle of the release.

Remember that writing your release with the media in mind is always your best bet.  As Stacey Burling says, “One of the biggest problems is PR people who do not know how to think like journalists.  They miss opportunities to be included in stories.”  Follow these tips and don’t let your story be left out!


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