Journalist Networking Secrets from Inside the Wire

March 13, 2012

by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire/Chicago

The purpose of media relations was beat into my head by my college PR professor — she often said, “The goal is to develop mutually beneficial relationships with the media.”

This definition very closely mirrors the Public Relations Society of America’s new definition of Public Relations. Only she never gave me an exact formula for achieving that goal.

So we decided to share our advice on how Business Wire’s Media Relations Team uses networking events and journalism groups to build relationships with members of the media.  One thing we’ve learned; while starting these relationships may happen in email or social networks, building them will require more face-to-facing and less “Facebooking.”

Luis Guillen

Luis Guillen

Networking Events – The Introduction

Ice breaking is an art form but it is not brain surgery, especially if you do your homework first.  Luis Guillen, our media relations representative for Southern California, says he researches the media people he expects to see at upcoming events beforehand.  “I like sports, so knowing what schools they went to helps me use sports and hometown information to connect.” Luis bonded with several reporters over small hometown familiarities at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention in Florida this past summer.  This led to new media connections he’s further fostered since returning to Los Angeles.

We’ve been taught to master our elevator pitch, but sometimes you have to take the stairs.  Maryana Bradas, who supervises our entire east coast team of media relations specialists, says:

Maryana Bradas

Engage in casual conversation,” especially when seated at a luncheon table.  “As long as they are relatively talkative your discussion will go all over the place.  Both parties will get a chance to talk about what they do and you can tell if you will have a good fit for further connecting.”

Maryana sits on the Press Club of Cleveland’s Board of Directors and attends the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional and national conventions. “As the conversation winds down you can go for the business card exchange.  That’s a natural progression.”

The Association of Women Journalists – Chicago(AWJ) has only in recent years established an associate level of membership.

Karen Kring

Karen Kring

Karen Kring, past president of the chapter, warns against pitching their members at events:

“Pitching is for when they are on the clock more formally. Turn it around; become the reporter . . . You not only want to know their beat, but what specifically within their beat they are paying most attention to so that you’ll know what kind of information or stories they might be receptive to in the future. If you have a story in mind, ask them if they’d be receptive to your follow up with them later.”

Journalist Groups – Getting in and Standing out

Raschanda Hall

Raschanda Hall

I take an alphabet soup approach to networking.  I’m everywhere, all the time.  NABJ, PCC, SPJ, SABEW, AWJ, ONA etc.  I talk to everybody and give every discussion my properly undivided attention, but to really connect with reporters through journalist organizations you have to put in some work; committee work and chapter board member work.  In these roles your work is selfless, and when done right, you build trust and get more immediate access to editors and reporters who can help you when you need it.  Now, this won’t save you from a front page crisis, but it could get you the heads-up that it’s coming.  An organization I was once involved in turned down sponsorship money from a competitor because they felt the competitor was trying to buy their way into the position I had gained through sweat equity.  In that single act my volunteer efforts paid off.

Dawn Roberts is Managing Partner of KD Communications in Delaware.  She also serves as Associate Member Board Representative

Dawn Roberts

for the National Association of Black JournalistsIt’s a position she is passionate about.  NABJ’s annual convention draws thousands of reporters and hundreds of PR people every year.  Her advice to PR folks: Attend media events so that you have an opportunity to meet journalists in person. And volunteer for a media organization. [It’s] a great way to meet journalists!”


Congratulations to Our Netbook Giveaway Winners!

June 16, 2010

June is always a big month for our industry & Business Wire is fresh from the floors of some of the most important PR & IR conferences of the year. At the shows this year, we discussed our two new products, NewsHQ online newsrooms & InvestorHQ online investor centers, and gave away netbook computers at the NIRI 2010 Annual Conference in San Diego, the IABC 2010 World Conference in Toronto and the CIRI 2010 Annual IR Conference in Ottawa. Congratulations to our winners:

NIRI 2010:
Angela Steinway, Integra Lifesciences
Plainsboro, NJ

IABC 2010:
Lynne Heasman, Quit Group
Wellington, New Zealand

CIRI 2010:
Dmitry Kushnir, Agnico-Eagle Mines
Toronto, Canada

Congrats, all! Conference Month isn’t quite over for us yet…if you’re attending Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations Summit on site in New York or online on June 28, we’ll see you there!


International Communicators Hungry for Communications Technology… and Cake

June 14, 2010

– by Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

Ibrey Woodall

The IABC World Conference took place in Toronto, Canada June 6-9, 2010. It was a perfect opportunity for Business Wire to announce the launch of our NewsHQ online newsroom and InvestorHQ investor center services.

So many attendees from all over the country were hungry to learn about communications technology and how it integrates with social media. This was evidenced by the many sessions referring to the subject matter, including “How to measure the ROI of your social media efforts” by Katie Delahaye Paine of KDPaine & Partners, “Integrating multimedia into your social media campaign” by Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications, and my own Sunday session “Online newsrooms with social media integration.”

Other tracks included employee communications, global trends, change management, communication leadership, and strategy and counsel. You can see more of the program by visiting http://www.iabc.com/wc/program.htm. You can also search on the Twitter hash tag #iabc10 to get an idea of the conversations happening during the conference. From this same feed, I found a blog about my session entitled “Online newsrooms with social media highlights” by attendee Kristen Sukalac or Prospero Communications.

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the opening general session. A team of musicians called Drum Café (http://www.drumcafe) showed everyone how to listen and play to the same beat using African drums. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many drums in one place. Drum Café has performed for Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, the Queen of England, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, and they certainly didn’t fail to show a good time to IABC attendees.

IABC 40th Anniversary Cake

And of course, Guy Kawasaki, author of nine books, provided a very comfortable and enjoyable closing general session on “The Art of Innovation.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this year was the 40th anniversary of IABC, a feat that every organization should be fortunate enough to celebrate. In rolled an extremely large cake that took about six chefs to pick up and place on the table. I personally enjoyed the sigh of relief and self-congratulations on each chef’s face once the cake was successfully transferred.

This was my first IABC conference. It was refreshing, professionally done and held many possibilities for both attendee and exhibitor. Although some may not be there yet, several attendees were well aware of the need to integrate social media and search engine optimization into their press release distribution. Yes, even the ones who work in the government industry.


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