Business Wire Seattle recently hosted a luncheon featuring top Seattle Tech media journalists. Both online and traditional journalists offered their thoughts and insights into what makes a good story and how to go about getting your news noticed.
Lauren Linscheid, Business Wire Seattle’s senior client services representative, organized the tech media event featuring moderator Jennifer Archer, Vice President, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, with panel participants John Cook, Co-founder, GeekWire; Brier Dudley, Technology Columnist, The Seattle Times; Tricia Duryee, Senior Editor, AllThingsD; and Curt Woodward, Senior Editor, Xconomy.
Below are some of the key takeaways from our panelists:
It’s ALL about narrative. Journalists want to cover a compelling or quirky tale whether the actual subject matter is a product launch, personnel change or company profile. Get personal, look around at your employees. If somebody in your company has a fresh angle to offer, use it. Are you or your company involved in something new and/or exciting? Find a way to add that to your news. The bottom line: if the story is interesting, we’ll use it.
Be an industry source and expert when using social media. With the tens of thousands of stories that cross social media outlets daily, these tech journalists are more likely to notice and follow a company, individual or organization on Twitter or blogs when that entity does more than report on its own news. Curt advises: “Be a source of information and not just a purveyor of pitches. Be an expert. Be a reader of all kinds of media. Be into the whole scene.” Tricia added, “create a personality.” This is the type of online presence that gets the journalist’s attention and puts you on their radar, increasing the chances of your own news getting noticed.
How to effectively pitch a story to the journalists? John Cook: “No calls!” Across the board, these journalists stated they do not regularly pick up their phone or check their voicemail. They prefer an email to a phone call and that brings up another point of agreement: if it’s an email pitch, be succinct. They want the pitch to be direct and concise with good communication and follow-up. Don’t bury your intent 16 paragraphs down. Get right to it. And while traditional journalist Brier relies heavily on these email pitches and his RSS feed for leads, the online journalists say a tweet is much more likely to catch their attention – in fact, Tricia works with two computer screens full of nothing but twitter feeds and John Cook says, “I have to cut myself off of Twitter because I will find so many stories to cover.”
Multimedia is much desired … but. The bottom line is that these journalists love multimedia but are more likely to use it as an enhancement to the written story than as a stand-alone. A busy schedule means they may not always have the time it takes to produce a polished asset, but if they receive a high quality multimedia piece with a good set of information, they’ll likely use it when reporting on the story. That being said, it still goes back to being about the narrative – “what’s the story here?” and will this enhance the quality of that story? It must be meaningful.
Finally, in response to moderator Jennifer Archer’s inquiry on how the media view PR professionals – “friends or foes?” – panelists were unanimous in their position that the working relationship between the media and PR professionals is a necessary and valuable “partnership,” though Brier did jokingly offer up the term “frenemies.” However, the journalists agreed that the media do need PR professionals to do their job. They especially appreciate those PR professionals who do their industry homework and know the outlet they are pitching and what it covers. And, very importantly, they value good, effective communication.
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