Milwaukee Media Discuss Pitching Tips and Media Relations Best Practices

July 12, 2011

by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, and Matt Blouin, Account Executive, Business Wire Chicago

Business Wire Chicago recently hosted a luncheon featuring top Milwaukee media at Milwaukee’s Newsroom Pub. Panelists offered tips on creating pitches that generate interest.

(L-R) Mark Maley (Patch.com), Bob Helbig (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), Kathy Mykleby (WISN-TV) & moderator Raschanda Hall (BW Chicago)

Kathy Mykleby, News Anchor/Reporter at WISN-TV, along with Bob Helbig, Deputy Business Editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Mark Maley, Milwaukee Regional Editor for Patch.com shared their insights regarding what it takes for a story pitch to be successful.  Raschanda Hall, Business Wire’s Global Media Relations Manager, moderated the panel.

Great crowd at the Newsroom Pub!

Below are some of the key takeaways from our panelists:

  • Local Content is King.  There is no real answer to “what is news” and no real definition to “newsworthy.”  Being interesting or clever can help.  Tailor the news to a specific area, giving it a local angle.  The ultimate goal is to serve the interests of  readers.  Look at yourself as a reader.
  • Social networking sites provide leads and promotional opportunities.  Reporters are constantly gathering information from Twitter and other social media sites.  They are especially interested in following people and organizations relevant to their jobs. Maley says his regional Patch.com editors rely heavily on Twitter to find and promote stories.  Mykleby says social media is great but we sometimes forget that success lies in building relationships.
  • The higher the resolution the better. Visuals are important to the layout of news stories.  Always make sure to provide quality, high resolution photos.  Even if multimedia is not used right away, it is typically kept on file.  Helbig admits that years ago the Journal Sentinel would never think of using outside photos but now it is much more common.
  • Attachments are okay, but… if you will be attaching something in an email, explain what is in the attachment in the body of the email.  Better yet says Helbig, include the attached press release in the body of the email too.  This serves two purposes.  He can read it right away and forward or print a clean version for filing or sharing with a colleague.
  • Social Media Release or Traditional does not matter — just keep it short.  The format of a press release is less important than the length.  Whenever possible, try to keep the release to no more than one page, and be sure to include contact information.  Mykleby says if she or one of her producers at WISN-TV needs more information they will ask for it.
  • Email is the preferred method of contact if the matter is not urgent.  An occasional follow up phone call is acceptable.  Be straightforward as time is precious and staff may be limited.  Helbig says he gets several dozen emails an hour.  The subject line and first sentence of an email might be all that is viewed.
  • Make sure your website is journalist-friendly.  Have a high quality website with as much information as possible for reporters to access.  Contact information, pictures and company descriptions are all useful. Mykleby says when she’s researching, Google, press releases and company websites all are important.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwevents.


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.


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