Local Bureau, National Media: Four Major Outlets Tell PR Professionals How to Get Their Attention

May 9, 2012

by Andrea Gillespie, Account Executive, Business Wire Chicago

With Chicago being the third largest media market in the US, many national media contacts call The Windy City home. Whether their beat is the entire Midwest or specific industry groups, knowing who’s who in the Chicago national media scene can earn you more placements. In April, Business Wire hosted some of these national news gatekeepers to learn what types of pitches stand out and how to get national attention for your company or client.

Cheryl Corley, National Desk Correspondent, NPR

Based in NPR’s Chicago Bureau, Cheryl Corley travels primarily throughout the Midwest, covering issues and events from Ohio to South Dakota as a National Desk reporter.

Pitch tips:
  • Cheryl is interested in stories that have a national or at least a broad Midwestern scope.  If a story is too focused on one specific state or city, she will refer the person to the local station.
  • Because of the radio format, she is not as interested in video. Adding still photography is helpful to create interest in your pitch, but no attachments.
  • The librarians for NPR are frequently called upon by NPR correspondents to do research for stories, so they are good contacts to have. They regularly scour and post queries to social media sites for experts.
Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires

Jason Dean oversees coverage of subjects including economic, political and cultural developments in the Midwest; national education issues; the agriculture and foods business; the airline and aerospace industries; and key financial exchanges.

Pitch tips:
  • Jason prefers personal pitches – just plugging his name into an email that went to a large group of people doesn’t fool him.
  • He also suggests doing research to identify which WSJ/Dow Jones reporter covers your industry. The Chicago Bureau does not cover all Chicago companies. For example, Chicago tech companies are covered by the San Francisco bureau.
  • Pitch visuals. With every story they cover, they consider what type of video component can be added to it. While they prefer to shoot their own video, it’s helpful to include a link to b-roll or your spokesperson in action in your pitch. He requests links only – no attachments.

Andy Fies, Producer, ABC News

Great crowd at the BW Chicago event!

Andy Fies is one of two producers based in ABC’s Midwest Bureau covering stories for World News with Diane Sawyer,Good Morning America, Nightline and ABCNews.com. His primary area of responsibility is news of national interest from the nation’s heartland.
Pitch tips:
  • Andy is interested in covering stories from all Midwestern companies, but he is mostly drawn to those that show how people on the street are being affected. They want to put a personal view into every story they cover.
  • As ABC recently merged with Yahoo! News, consider the digital version of your story. This means photos and visuals of your story are necessary.
Greg Stricharchuk, Editor, Sunday Business Section, The Chicago Tribune

As an editor in the business news section, Greg Stricharchuk works with reporters and helps conceptualize and edit their stories. He’s also specifically responsible for the Sunday business section.

Pitch tips:
  • While you can copy Greg on your pitches to reporters, it’s best to read the paper and know who writes about your topic. Pitch them directly first.
  • Greg is mainly interested in publicly held companies – not so much private companies or organizations, unless they are starting an industry trend or obtaining significant funding.
  • Don’t pitch experts 2-3 days after a story breaks. Oftentimes, stories are starting to form days before the actual news breaks. Get your expert pitches to the appropriate editor before that happens.
  • Remember that the Tribune is comprised of six newspapers, online sites and TV stations. Pitches that show how the story can cross all mediums are typically well-received.
Thanks again to all of our clients and the communications professionals who were able to join us.
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 #bwchat.

Denver-Area Journalists Discuss Newsroom Cutbacks, Pitching Tips

August 23, 2011

by JoAnne Hirsch, Senior Client Services Representative, Business Wire Denver

Business Wire Denver recently hosted a media breakfast, “Who’s Covering You Now: What Newsroom Cutbacks Mean to Your Company and How to Pitch Stories to a Shrinking Newsroom.”  The media panel discussed the changing landscape, best practices for pitching and the impact of  mobile.


David Sloan
, Account Executive for Business Wire Denver, moderated the panel, which included (L-R):

  • Gil Asakawa, Manager of Student Media, Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Colorado
  • Greg Nieto, News Reporter, FOX31 and KWGN, Channel 2
  • Patrick Doyle, Senior Editor, 5280 Publishing, Inc.

Tight budgets, shrinking newsrooms

Nieto responded to seemingly endless media consolidation by finding a silver lining.  “I have a lot more leeway to bring stories to the table,” he said. “When we have editorial meetings they used to ask for five or six story ideas and that number has probably grown to about 10.”  

Asakawa added that in recent years the Denver Post has shrunk drastically, resulting in reporters  juggling multiple kinds of stories.  One of the biggest changes, he said, has been the PR community’s outreach to social media and individual bloggers.

Know your audience, do your homework

The panel was unanimous in the sage-old advice to PR pros:  despite technology, it’s all about the relationship. “Watch some of the program on TV and see where your topic might fit in,” counseled Nieto.   Doyle requested no attachments in email pitches and Asakawa advised: “Find new hooks and plan new hooks every year so you have something to go to the media with.”

Nieto offered a lesson in selling reporters on your story:  “When I pitch a story I’m already thinking about the hook. What’s going to be the tease? A pitch should be multi-layered.  The more ammunition I have, the better opportunity it’s going to stick and someone in the editorial meeting is going to assign your story.”

Regarding timing, the journalists recommended keeping production schedules and editorial calendars in mind.  A monthly magazine works far in advance, with editorial calendars set a year out. Newspapers have a more timely window.  “You need to know that to get in the Friday section it’s done at most papers by Tuesday,”  said Asakawa.

Mobile technologies a game changer

The panel agreed that mobile is here and the future is uncertain.   “If I’m out on a story they have me shoot a little tease with my Droid that we’ll send to our website,” said Nieto. “Over the past three years there’s been a huge push to write our Web script. I find more and more I get feedback from people who read my scripts from across the country who haven’t viewed the broadcast.  That’s fascinating to me.”

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.

Upcoming Business Wire Events: Meet the Media in Chicago, Crisis Comm in Atlanta, Visit Bloomberg in Toronto

May 5, 2011

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Wake Up With the Chicago Media

Hosted by Business Wire Chicago

Rise and (make your pitches) shine! Join Business Wire Chicago for breakfast and meet the producers and editors from some of Chicago’s most sought-after outlets. Find out who wants to be pitched via social media, how you can make a great first impression and where the best PR opportunities exist in each of these hot media outlets. Kimberly Eberl, President at Motion PR, will moderate the panel, which includes: Kathryn Born, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, TINC Magazine (Technology Industry News – Chicago); Susanna Negovan, Editor-in-Chief, Michigan Avenue Magazine; and Kathryn Janicek, Daypart Manager/Executive Producer, NBC Chicago. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, May 12 at 8 a.m. CT
Maggiano’s Little Italy – Chicago
Antinori Room, 516 N. Clark St. (banquet entrance is on Grand Ave.), Chicago, IL 60654

To register: Please send an e-mail to Abbie Sullivan at Abbie.Sullivan@BusinessWire.com BEFORE Friday, May 6. Be sure to include your name, the name of your company, and a phone number where you can be reached. Please note that seating is limited. We request no more than 2 guests per organization.

Media Breakfast on Crisis Communications

Hosted by Business Wire Atlanta

From a natural disaster to a negative blog post, is your company prepared to manage a communications crisis? Now is a great time to go over the basics of crisis communications and reputation management. Join us as our experts share their thoughts on some key steps to following when responding to a crisis, rebuilding trust and how best to address the media during a crisis. Panelists include: Andrew McCaskill, V.P. & Group Director, William Mills Agency; Chris Joyner, State Government Reporter, Atlanta Journal Constitution; and Chris Sweigart, Manager of Digital Content, WXIA NBC, 11alive.com.

Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 a.m. ET
Anthony’s Fine Dining
3109 Piedmont Road Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30305

To register: RSVP to Matt Johnson at 770.667.7500 or email matthew.johnson@businesswire.com.

Bloomberg Editorial Briefing Session

Hosted by Business Wire Toronto

Join Business Wire Canada for an exclusive intimate conversation with Bloomberg News editors and reporters at Bloomberg’s Toronto offices.  Please join us for a complimentary breakfast and informal chat with four members of Bloomberg’s esteemed team to hear their collective insights on how not to have your hard work end up on the news room floor. Speakers include: Paul Davitt, Team Leader, Bloomberg Sales; Sean Pasternak, Bloomberg Banking Reporter; Steve Frank, Bloomberg Commodities Industry Editor; and David Scanlan, Bloomberg Bureau Chief. This event is free for all attendees.

Friday, May 27 at 8:30 a.m. ET
Bloomberg
Brookfield Place, Canada Trust Tower, 161 Bay st., Suite 4300, Toronto, ON

To register: RSVP to Katrina Bolak at 416.593.0208 or email katrina.bolak@businesswire.com by May 23.

Business Wire holds dozens of local events every year. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from trends in today’s newsrooms to writing for SEO. Events are usually free of charge to members. For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit BusinessWire.com. Follow live updates from Business Wire events on Twitter: hash tag #bwevents


Philadelphia Media Members and Communication Professionals Provide Practical Tips for Media Relations

May 27, 2010

On Wednesday, May 12th, Business Wire Philadelphia hosted “Media Relations Boot Camp,” a breakfast and panel discussion about media relations best practices.  The event, held at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia, brought over 50 PR practitioners, industry professionals and business executives looking to learn from leaders in the media and communications industries.

Moderator Michael Smith, LaSalle University

The panel discussion was moderated by Michael Smith, PhD, Associate Professor of Communication at La Salle University and featured the following speakers:

Below are some of the key points from each of our panelists:

Mike Armstong, Philadelphia Inquirer

  • When asked what he looks for in a story, Mike said “the key word is interesting.  If you’re going to reach out to the media, it better be interesting and it better be important.”  He also added that pitches should be short, to the point and preferably delivered by e-mail – not over the phone or via fax.
  • If you’re going to call Mike at the Inquirer, he suggests doing your research.  Flowery language doesn’t work for him.  A better approach is to read his articles and find a connection between your pitch and what he covers.  He added that “the brutal truth is that just because you exist, doesn’t mean you’re a story.”  To be successful, organizations need to recognize trends and find how you fit into these bigger stories.
  • Despite being the editor for the PhillyInc Blog, Mike does not heavily rely on social media for news tips.  There is no must-read blog for him at the moment.  Although he keeps a list of blogs to follow, he only checks them about once a month.

Bernard Dagenais, Philadelphia Business Journal

  • For Bernie and the Philadelphia Business Journal, a good story is about a lot of money and/or a lot of jobs.  Journalists bring their independent judgment to the newsroom when it comes to determining whether or not something is newsworthy, but for the most part a good story is one that will be interesting to the entire business community – not just your specific industry.
  • When sending an e-mail to an editor or reporter, the subject line is very important.  It is a PR professional’s job to get the attention of the media and a subject line is one way to do that.  If a story is really good, it is not a bad idea to call the reporter and resend the e-mail once you’re on the phone so the reporter doesn’t have to search for what you’re talking about.  When calling Bernie with a pitch, a fact-driven approach works best.  He wants to get his job done as efficiently and effectively as possible so provide the information he needs up front.
  • Make sure you are sending quality e-mails when you contact reporters.  Bernie actually set up a junk filter for people who have sent too many useless e-mails in the past.  According to Bernie, “why would I want to contact them?  They don’t get what it is that we do.”

Alex Hillman, DangerouslyAwesome.com and Indy Hall

  • Organizations should remember that sometimes less is more.  Not everything an organization does is newsworthy so there is no reason to constantly broadcast announcements if they are not important.  “If everything is a hot story, then nothing is a hot story,” he said.  “Shut up and listen before you shout and hope someone listens.”
  • Alex referenced Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow, encouraging the audience to do something interesting and to be remarkable.  “Be worth remarking about.  You’ll keep hitting the same walls [with the media] if you continue to do the same thing.”
  • When it comes to using social media and new technology, he recommends taking a quality over quantity approach.  Consistently putting out quality posts and being thoughtful about your social media strategy is more effective than high volume.  Social media tools like blogs allow people to express judgment in what they are sharing, and organizations should recognize this important aspect when creating content.  In regards to negative comments on blogs, Alex recommends not deleting them but instead viewing them as an opportunity to engage.

Panelist Michael Wood, PPL Corporation

Michael Wood, PPL Corporation

  • Although more and more organizations are incorporating social media into their communication strategies, it is still important to use outlets like the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Business Journal.  “You need to consider all media to reach your audience.  You need to integrate your message into a number of different vehicles and traditional media is part of that plan,” he said.
  • According to Michael, “credibility means everything to someone working in media relations.”  Know what makes a good story for the media outlet you are pitching and know what information they need to do their job.  Be selective when reaching out to the media so they are more likely to pay attention when you pitch.
  • When writing a press release, make it more about the story and less about the organization.  Revise your headline to be about the current trend you want to discuss and have your company serve as one of several sources within the release.

Local Business Wire offices host dozens of events each year on PR, IR, SEO & media topics.  Check out the Business Wire Events page to find upcoming events in your area.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


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