Media Pitching Tips from Top Business Magazines

March 28, 2011
by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/NY
NIkelle Feimster

Nikelle Feimster

The Publicity Club of New York (PCNY) recently held a business media briefing at 3 West Club in New York City. The event, moderated by Peter Himler, Founder and Principal of Flatiron Communications LL, included a panel of guests from top business magazines. The speakers were: Michael Santoli, Senior Editor & “Streetwise” Columnist, Barron’s; Jeff Chu, Articles Editor, Fast Company; Steve Bertoni, Reporter, Forbes; Nadine Heintz, Senior Editor, Inc. Magazine; Russell Pearlman, Senior Markets Editor, SmartMoney Magazine.

Here are a few techniques offered by the panelists on how PR professionals can increase their chances of getting media coverage:

 Make your pitch challenging. According to Steve Bertoni, Forbes is always known as the “drama critics of capitalism”. He said that for the magazine, stories need to have challenge or conflict so be sure there is drama or a lesson in your pitch.

Take time to build relationships. Russell Pearlman of SmartMoney Magazine advised PR pros to invest in long term relationships with journalists. He is willing to contact companies for information, but only after he has developed a relationship with them first. It’s also helpful to provide him with a client list that explains what each client can talk about.

Make sure your pitch fits the publication. According to Nadine Heintz of Inc. Magazine, you should know and read the magazine. “Show that you understand it and how your story would be a good fit,” she said.  When pitching Fast Company, Jeff Chu said to check out the magazine issue covering the world’s most fifty innovative companies to get a good sense of the companies they cover.

 Small companies, small industry you can still get big coverage. Inc. Magazine only covers privately held companies. Heintz will focus on how people start their own business and what makes them successful. Also, Barron’s writers are not bound by a beat assignment so “everything is pretty much fair game,” said Michael Santoli.

The panelists provided additional tips for pitching, like:

  • Don’t continue to call without leaving a voice message.
  • Spell the writer’s name correctly.
  • Stay away from jargon.
  • Put the news in the headline and subhead of the email.

PCNY has monthly “Meet the Media” luncheons that include a panel of guests from leading print, broadcast and online news organizations. For more information on upcoming events, visit http://www.publicityclub.org.


Dos and Don’ts of Pitching a Features Editor

March 8, 2011
by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire’s Features National circuit and Feature Topic Series can help distribute your press releases, but how do you create an effective story that will appeal to a features editor? I reached out to Katie Aberbach of the Washington Post Express and Katy De Luca of the Washington Examiner to find out the dos and don’ts of pitching a feature editor.

Katie Aberbach

Katie Aberbach is a feature editor for the Washington Post Express‘ Lookout, Weekend Pass and Digs sections. According to Aberbach, a good feature is “a human interest story, something the average reader can relate to.” The best feature stories are when you become invested in what you’re reading or when you can tell that the reporter truly enjoys what he or she is writing about. When it comes to getting ideas for feature stories, “press releases do help out a lot because there is no way you can know everything new that’s coming out,” she said. “Tell me about your new product, television show and book and offer a source to comment on it.”

When it comes to writing your press release, she suggests the following:

  • Do break up the story and summarize key information into bullet points.
  • Do include links to other trend stories and think of what visuals would work for your story.
  • Don’t forget the hook. Even though you’re pitching a feature story, a hard news hook is still valuable. Say why I should care right away. Naming the names is really important.

Katy De Luca

Katy De Luca is the features editor of the Washington Examiner. For De Luca, the best feature stories are ones that appeal to the Examiner audience. “I look at all pitches and think about what will be most interesting to our readers. I think about what they would want to read and what is the best way to get the information to them,” she said. Most of the story ideas come from the writers De Luca works with. She also reads a variety of media and if a topic grabs her attention, she’ll forward the lead to one of her freelancers.

When pitching a feature reporter or editor, De Luca recommends these points:

  • Do include as much information as possible in the subject line and personalize your pitch. Provide all basic details. Simple is better.
  • Do periodically ask the person you are pitching to what sort of things they are looking for. Communication is a key part of the process.
  • Don’t send long-winded e-mails with attachments.

For more suggestions on how to help get your feature news noticed by the media, check out these Features News Tips. You can also contact our features department at features@businesswire.com for additional writing tips and story suggestions.


Capitol Communicator’s Meet the New Media Event Recap

November 22, 2010

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

On Tuesday, November 16th, public relations professionals and other members of the communications industry gathered at B. Smith’s in Washington, DC for Capitol Communicator’s “Meet the New Media” event. The media panel, moderated by Mopwater PR founder Amanda Miller Littlejohn, included:

Several attendees were live tweeting the event. To follow the discussion and to add to the conversation, look for tweets with the hashtag #NewMediaDC in Twitter Search.

After providing a brief overview of their respective media outlets, each panelist contributed their thoughts on a variety of topics: social media and journalism, do’s and don’ts of pitching and the impact of mobile devices among others. The main takeaways from the discussion were the importance of building relationships with reporters and knowing the publication you’re pitching.

In regards to relationship building, Jennifer Nycz-Conner of the Washington Business Journal said she has developed professional relationships through Twitter. At times, it’s actually faster to reach her through Twitter rather than traditional forms of communication like e-mail or phone. She also joked that the newsroom has officially started the tally of news releases starting with “It’s that time of year again.” She suggested finding a different lead unless you want to be grouped with the others.

Michael Schaffer of Washington City Paper said that we date ourselves by asking how journalists use social media in their news gathering. He added that reporters will more than likely take advantage of these tools unless they’re not curious at all. When it comes to pitching the Washington City Paper, he suggests reaching out to individual journalists rather than going straight for the editor. “It’s a better percentage game working the reporters,” he said.

According to Erik Wemple of TBD, the media outlet was founded on social media responsiveness. Mandy Jenkins, the site’s Social Media Producer, not only engages the community through Facebook and Twitter, but also monitors these social media networks looking for trends and news tips. Wemple recommends starting your e-mail pitch with a reference to a story the journalist has written. This shows you read the publication and have some knowledge of what the reporter writes about.

Dion Haynes of Capital Business echoed Wemple’s point noting that a reference to one of his stories in a recent pitch caught his attention. For Haynes, it’s not only important to get to know the publication, but also to learn about the person you are pitching. Journalists are people too. They have their own personal lives and interests, he said.

Edwin Warfield of Citybizlist talked about the reciprocal relationship between public relations and journalism. According to Warfield, Citybizlist will take any news release that is local, literate and about business. Gathering information from a multitude of sources is important to carry out Citybizlist’s mission of delivering breaking local news.

Capitol Communicator serves as a resource to the communications community of the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to providing industry news, Capitol Communicator provides professional development opportunities and educational events. For more information about Capitol Communicator, please visit www.capitolcommunicator.com.


Minneapolis Media Give Tips for Communications Professionals

June 10, 2010

by Paul J.F. Bowman, Editor, Business Wire Minneapolis

On May 27th, Business Wire Minneapolis hosted a Meet the Media breakfast at the Graves 601 Hotel, across the street from our Minneapolis office. Attendees included Business Wire clients and cohorts of all backgrounds.

Our panel included employees from a wide variety of local media points, including print, online, TV and radio. The panel, which offered many tips on pitching to local writers and reaffirmed the necessity of announcing company news in an effective manner, included:

by Business Wire Minneapolis Editor Paul J.F. Bowman

One of the panel’s hot suggested topics/trends is company volunteerism (i.e. companies offering paid employee time for volunteering during the 40-hour work week). On the other hand, one editor’s staff is “greened-out.” To them, corporate social responsibility articles are cliché and overused in today’s media.

Another major trend is the vanishing of embargoed copy. The press agreed that it is very difficult to sit on a hot lead for a story; another journalist might be willing to forego the embargo just to claim the scoop. The only exception is study or research: reporters appreciate receiving this copy in advance so there is time to analyze and interpret the data.

Some key points about media in general:

  • Most general rules about media still apply regarding pitching, targeting, and writing.
  • Print newspapers are not all dying; some have maintained their growth despite advances of Internet media.
  • Details, details! The more specifics you are able to provide, the better the story. For example:
    • quotes from those involved to help lengthen and “flesh out” the article
    • full names and titles of those involved (businesses/contractors, architects, lawyers)
    • specific locations (headquarters, where contract was signed, new facilities)
    • use experts for analysis within the content—make sure you provide titles, applicable degrees, etc.
  • Make sure your contacts on the release:
    • are primary experts on the release content.
    • are available 24 hours a day. If only one is, specify who is the after-hours contact.
    • are prepared to serve as ambassadors between the company and the public.

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