by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles
Last week, Business Wire LA hosted “LA-Area Technology Journalists Discuss Reporting Trends and How to Pitch Tech Media,” a media breakfast and panel discussion with technology journalists discussing what makes a good story and best practices for pitching tech media.
Sallie Olmsted (far right), Executive Vice President of Convergence at Rogers & Cowan, moderated the panel, which included (left to right):
- Brian Deagon, Business and Technology Journalist, Investor’s Business Daily
- David Sarno, Staff Writer, The Los Angeles Times
- Natalie Jarvey, Reporter (Technology), Los Angeles Business Journal
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
- Journalists are extremely busy and have little time to look at each pitch they receive. Be succinct and get to the point immediately. Don’t try to set up the story. In a press release, the point of the pitch needs to be in the headline or first paragraph; in an email pitch, it needs to be in the subject line. David Sarno says to think of the headline and first paragraph of a press release as the entirety of your release, because most people don’t read past that.
- In pitches, press releases and all corporate literature, journalists value clarity and authenticity over flowery language.
- Stories are rarely just about one product. They usually have more to do with a trend or how people are doing things differently. Think about that as context for your pitches.
- Reporters still like face-to-face meetings, demos, visits and webinars, but just don’t have much time. Trade shows are one place where you can meet face-to-face, particularly for tech companies. Get in touch with reporters who are attending in advance. If you’re doing a demo or webinar, make an archive available so reporters don’t feel like they only have one chance to see it. Transcripts are also helpful and should be provided promptly.
- Although many reporters are on Twitter and Facebook, pitching by email is still generally more reliable.
- If you are pitching over the phone, make sure you know what you’re talking about and are able to answer questions! This is especially applicable for low-level PR professionals and interns who are asked to pitch.
- Quotes in press release do get used, especially if the reporter doesn’t have time to get a quote on their own. However, to get used, the quote must give insight and not just be a generic “this is great” type quote.
- Most reporters will honor an embargo, but the panelists say they don’t see it as an indicator that something is important. Embargoed items get treated like any other news item.
- If your company uses a general media inquiries mailbox (such as a email@example.com type address on your website), make sure it’s monitored regularly. If a reporter sends an inquiry to that address, it should be responded to promptly. Better yet, list your media relations person.
- Great tech/business news sites: TechMeme, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Bloomberg.
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