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.

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Upcoming Business Wire Events – March 29 Edition

March 29, 2010

The Impact of Social Media on Traditional News Reporting

Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out some of our upcoming events in your area:

Convergence, Citizen and Social Journalism: Strategies on Sending Your Press Release to Today’s Media

Hosted by Business Wire Florida

Join Business Wire Florida for a panel discussion on the changing landscape in media venue, platform and audience. Panelists Cindy Kent, Business News Desk at the Sun Sentinel; Margie Schneider, VP Operations for Ten Golden Rules; and Maria de Los Angeles, South Florida blogger, senior writer and forum editor for Miami Beach 411 will discuss the role of social media in the media world and options to get corporate messages out to industry followers, opinion leaders, stakeholders and the social community. This event is free for all attendees.

Tuesday, April 13 at 8:00am ET
Broward College, Willis Holcombe Center
111 East Las Olas Blvd, 12th Floor Boardroom, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
To register: RSVP to Claudia Perez-Bonilla at 954.474.8833 or email claudia.perez@businesswire.com by April 9

Navigation in Today’s Global-Mobile-Social World: From a PR Perspective

Hosted by Business Wire San Francisco

Take your understanding of the online traditional media and the social media to the next level!  In this session, our panel of experts will address the changing landscape in media venues, platforms and audiences plus best practices to get corporate messages out and talked about in the expansive universe of industry followers, opinion leaders, stakeholders and social community.  They’ll discuss how social media and online search affects news reporting, corporate messaging (traditional and new), and the importance of envisioning the information you wish to deliver, as well as where to deliver it. Business Wire VP of New Media Monika Maeckle moderates a panel including Chris Heuer, Founder, AdHocnium and Social Media Club; Maura Ginty, Customer Experience, Worldwide Marketing, Autodesk; David Toole, CEO, MEDIAMobz; Rachel Polish, Vice President, Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence; BJ Fogg, Director, Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University; and Kimarie Mathews, Voice and Customer Experience, Wells Fargo Bank. This event is free for Business Wire members and $20 for non-members.

Thursday, April 15 at 9:00am PST
Autodesk’s Meeting Center
The Landmark @ One Market
One Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
To register: Please RSVP to Sandy Donnelly at sandy.donnelly@businesswire.com or call 415.986.4422 x561 by April 12

Meet the Media: How to Effectively Communicate Your Message

Hosted by Business Wire Los Angeles

Join Business Wire LA for breakfast and a “Meet the Media” panel discussion with local media members Eddie Chan, West Coast Financial Editor-in-Charge for Thomson Reuters; Alberto Mendez, Assignment Editor for KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV; and Kevin Davis, COO for The Wrap.com. The panelists will answer questions from the audience and share their tips for effectively pitching news media, strategies and tactics. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, April 15 at 8:00am PT
Olympic Collection Center
11303 Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
To register: RSVP to Garrett Henricksen or Heather Hardge at larsvp@businesswire.com or call 310-820-9473 by Monday, April 12.

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.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


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