Journalist Networking Secrets from Inside the Wire

March 13, 2012

by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire/Chicago

The purpose of media relations was beat into my head by my college PR professor — she often said, “The goal is to develop mutually beneficial relationships with the media.”

This definition very closely mirrors the Public Relations Society of America’s new definition of Public Relations. Only she never gave me an exact formula for achieving that goal.

So we decided to share our advice on how Business Wire’s Media Relations Team uses networking events and journalism groups to build relationships with members of the media.  One thing we’ve learned; while starting these relationships may happen in email or social networks, building them will require more face-to-facing and less “Facebooking.”

Luis Guillen

Luis Guillen

Networking Events – The Introduction

Ice breaking is an art form but it is not brain surgery, especially if you do your homework first.  Luis Guillen, our media relations representative for Southern California, says he researches the media people he expects to see at upcoming events beforehand.  “I like sports, so knowing what schools they went to helps me use sports and hometown information to connect.” Luis bonded with several reporters over small hometown familiarities at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention in Florida this past summer.  This led to new media connections he’s further fostered since returning to Los Angeles.

We’ve been taught to master our elevator pitch, but sometimes you have to take the stairs.  Maryana Bradas, who supervises our entire east coast team of media relations specialists, says:

Maryana Bradas

Engage in casual conversation,” especially when seated at a luncheon table.  “As long as they are relatively talkative your discussion will go all over the place.  Both parties will get a chance to talk about what they do and you can tell if you will have a good fit for further connecting.”

Maryana sits on the Press Club of Cleveland’s Board of Directors and attends the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional and national conventions. “As the conversation winds down you can go for the business card exchange.  That’s a natural progression.”

The Association of Women Journalists – Chicago(AWJ) has only in recent years established an associate level of membership.

Karen Kring

Karen Kring

Karen Kring, past president of the chapter, warns against pitching their members at events:

“Pitching is for when they are on the clock more formally. Turn it around; become the reporter . . . You not only want to know their beat, but what specifically within their beat they are paying most attention to so that you’ll know what kind of information or stories they might be receptive to in the future. If you have a story in mind, ask them if they’d be receptive to your follow up with them later.”

Journalist Groups – Getting in and Standing out

Raschanda Hall

Raschanda Hall

I take an alphabet soup approach to networking.  I’m everywhere, all the time.  NABJ, PCC, SPJ, SABEW, AWJ, ONA etc.  I talk to everybody and give every discussion my properly undivided attention, but to really connect with reporters through journalist organizations you have to put in some work; committee work and chapter board member work.  In these roles your work is selfless, and when done right, you build trust and get more immediate access to editors and reporters who can help you when you need it.  Now, this won’t save you from a front page crisis, but it could get you the heads-up that it’s coming.  An organization I was once involved in turned down sponsorship money from a competitor because they felt the competitor was trying to buy their way into the position I had gained through sweat equity.  In that single act my volunteer efforts paid off.

Dawn Roberts is Managing Partner of KD Communications in Delaware.  She also serves as Associate Member Board Representative

Dawn Roberts

for the National Association of Black JournalistsIt’s a position she is passionate about.  NABJ’s annual convention draws thousands of reporters and hundreds of PR people every year.  Her advice to PR folks: Attend media events so that you have an opportunity to meet journalists in person. And volunteer for a media organization. [It’s] a great way to meet journalists!”


Business Wire New York Hosts Howard University Journalism Students

December 2, 2010

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York

Howard University Association of Black Journalist (HUABJ) hosted their third annual Multimedia Tour November 11-12, 2010 in New York City. The journalism students visited several news organizations for a chance to tour their offices and speak with professional journalists.

The students were divided into two groups. The broadcast group visited media outlets including ABC, WBLS, WABC-TV, and Radio One Interactive. The print group visited NYU Graduate School of Journalism, HarperCollins Publishers, The New York Times, Amsterdam News, The Wall Street Journal and Business Wire. Both groups visited CBS Interactive and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

HUABJ Print Group

Overall, the students learned so much from the professionals on their visit. “Seeing the tour turn out so well was such a rewarding feeling,” said Mary Godie, President of HUABJ. “It was evident that the students got more out of it than they expected. We changed a few elements up this year so that students were able to get a well rounded view of the industry. And, I know they got that and so much more.”

Business Wire was very excited to be a part of the tour this year. Led by Mike Maguire, Northeast Editorial Supervisor at Business Wire, the students were given a step-by-step overview of Business Wire’s news distribution process. Following the presentation, the group witnessed the day-to-day operations of the editorial newsroom and saw how press releases are formatted and transmitted over the wire.

HUABJ Broadcast Group

“Business Wire has always had an interest in educational efforts that are happening at universities across the country,” said Maguire. “One of the ways Business Wire gets to show off what we do and act as teachers has been hosting students and faculty members at various colleges and universities. The students of Howard provided an audience that was keen to take in the opportunity we presented.”

HUABJ is a student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ). HUABJ was chartered in 1998 with a mission to cultivate, teach and prepare students for careers in journalism.


NABJ at 35: The Power of Change

August 10, 2010

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York

I recently attended the 35th annual National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair held July 28 to August 1 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, CA. The sold out event was a huge success, drawing more than 1,600 media professionals from across the country. The convention was packed with a plethora of workshop and training sessions, forums, plenary ceremonies, and networking opportunities.

Dr. Mehmet Oz at the opening ceremony of the NABJ Convention

In keeping with this year’s theme, “The Power of Change,” a new initiative was introduced: Healthy NABJ. The opening ceremony featured television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and veteran broadcaster Rene Syler. According to Dr. Oz, in order for journalists to do their jobs effectively they have to take care of their health. In addition, journalists can spark change in the black community by spreading awareness of health issues that affect African-Americans including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The most talked about panel discussion was “Context and Consequences: Conversation with Shirley Sherrod.” Sherrod was animated as she talked about how she was forced to resign from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because a conservative blogger posted video excerpts from a speech she gave at an NAACP meeting. Sherrod claimed her words were taken out of context and she was accused of being a racist.

During the conference, workshop and training sessions were held to provide journalists with the skills they need to stay current in the industry. Some of the sessions were:

  • Advanced Multimedia Training
  • Power Writing for the Web
  • Google for Journalists
  • Internet Etiquette: Being “Socially” Responsible

Benèt Wilson and Nikelle Feimster

I really enjoyed the workshop called “Public Relations and Journalism – The Intersecting Highway.” The room was filled with reporters and PR professionals who were eager to know how they can build better relationships with each other. During this lively discussion, one of the attendees asked if the reporters thought press releases distributed through wire services were useful.  Not only did the reporters find them useful, but one of the panelists, Benét Wilson, Online Managing Editor of Business Aviation, said that “Business Wire is great.” She praised Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager at Business Wire Chicago. Raschanda helped Benét  create a custom newsfeed with Business Wire’s PressPass tool. With PressPass, Benét receives only the news she needs at her convenience. This free media service is a valuable resource to journalists’ news gathering and it makes their jobs a lot easier.

Swayne Hall, AP photo editor, and Nikelle Feimster

Other heavy hitters in journalism who attended the convention were CNN contributor Roland Martin, Soledad O’Brien, and JET senior staff writer Clarence Waldron. Soledad was named Journalist of the Year, and Clarence received the NABJ Legacy Award.

Next year’s convention will take place in Philadelphia. To learn more about NABJ, visit www.nabj.com.


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