Info Plus Data Equals Credibility: Toronto Star Editors on How to Pitch

October 18, 2011

by Rishika Luthra, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Canada

Rishika Luthra

Rishika Luthra

Ever wondered why your press release didn’t get the traction you felt it deserved? Or why a specific newspaper ignored your announcement? The answer is simple: the best way to “be heard” is to first know the publications you’re pitching.

Andrew Phillips

Andrew Phillips, Toronto Star -- photo by Richard Arless

In a candid discussion with Business Wire Canada, Brandie Weikle, Editor for healthzone.ca and parentcentral.ca; and Andrew Phillips, Editorial Page Editor at The Toronto Star; shared some useful tips on  do’s and don’ts for pitching their publications.

According to Brandie, five key points to consider while targeting top Canadian newspapers are:

1) Dovetail your press release with market trends

The Toronto Star might not run a company profile or a news story just about what your company is doing. Try to consider your promotional needs in the context of broader issues and news. For instance, suggest a story that examines what your company or organization is doing in the context of a trend, market need or societal issue.

2)  Beef up your credibility

Make sources besides your own company contacts available. Ensure that your contacts are well-prepped with relevant talking points. If possible, try to get an outside source for an unbiased perspective.

3) Be media wise and stay ahead of the game

Research the types of articles run by the publication you are pitching. For example, if you pitch a pure product story and the publication does not have a product-related section or history of running that kind of story, your press release won’t get lucky. Tailor your pitch to the sections they DO have and the article types they favour. Browse the publication’s website to learn more about the news sections.

Brandie Weikle

Brandie Weikle, Editor for healthzone.ca and parentcentral.ca

4) Relevance is directly proportional to pick-up!

Suggest your ideas in the context of ongoing coverage of stories that are already being developed. If your idea can further the story in some way, and you can show that you have been reading our coverage closely, your chances of success are greater.

5) Information combined with data: A winning duo

Lastly, websites do very well with headlines that have numbers in them — for instance: “7 things you need to know about XXXXX,” “5 secrets to XXXXX,” and so on. If suitable, consider structuring your pitch to provide these kinds of winning lists that readers enjoy.

As a final word to the wise, Andrew has this suggestion: “In an industry characterized by continuous change, the most essential attribute for any news content is relevance. Sometimes it is a prestige issue for companies; however, they need to understand the importance of getting their message out by leveraging social media and bypassing the bigger media. For example, announcements about management changes within companies, unless they involve corporations such as RIM or Apple Inc, do not qualify as being newsworthy for our publication.”


DC-Area Tech Journalists Offer Pitching Tips

October 1, 2010

by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire/DC hosted a “Meet the Technology Media” Event at Marriott Tysons Corner in Vienna, Virginia on Wednesday, September 29th.  The panel discussion, moderated by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, featured five technology journalists from some of the area’s top media outlets:

About 120 public relations and communications professionals were in attendance to learn how to increase your organization’s chances of securing media coverage. Attendees joined in the conversation during a question and answer section and also by live tweeting the event using the #BWEvents hash tag.

Here are some of the key points from the panel discussion:

  1. Headlines are important. Nick Wakeman said to think about your press release headline as a headline in a newspaper. Just as media outlets compete for readers at the newsstand, public relations professionals must compete for the attention of journalists in their inbox. The headline should tell reporters why they should care. For The Hill, you should have a clear link to politics or policy issues, said Gautham Nagesh.
  2. Include your organization in the e-mail subject. Paul Sherman noted that e-mail subjects are key in a mobile environment. Rob Pegoraro added that including a client and product name in the e-mail subject makes it easier for him to find the message later on.
  3. Know who you’re pitching. Every journalist has his or her own preferences when it comes to being pitched. Paul Sherman noted that he prefers texts over voicemails. Nick Wakeman likes when you follow up your e-mail with a phone call. There is no secret formula to media relations. You just need to do your homework.
  4. Consider your audience. Bill Flook pointed out that the Washington Business Journal reaches two different audiences through its online and print editions. Think about how your story fits in and remember that exclusivity matters for print while immediacy is more important for the web.
  5. Go beyond the pitch. According to Gautham Nagesh, Twitter can be an effective way to generate interest. If his followers are interested in your message, he will be more inclined to pay attention. Rob Pegoraro noted that commenting on articles online is a great way to provide information that was not included in the story. Bill Flook suggests setting up informational interviews with your CEO. Often, meetings like these can result in story ideas.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.


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