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.
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.
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.
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