Local Bureau, National Media: Four Major Outlets Tell PR Professionals How to Get Their Attention

May 9, 2012

by Andrea Gillespie, Account Executive, Business Wire Chicago

With Chicago being the third largest media market in the US, many national media contacts call The Windy City home. Whether their beat is the entire Midwest or specific industry groups, knowing who’s who in the Chicago national media scene can earn you more placements. In April, Business Wire hosted some of these national news gatekeepers to learn what types of pitches stand out and how to get national attention for your company or client.

Cheryl Corley, National Desk Correspondent, NPR

Based in NPR’s Chicago Bureau, Cheryl Corley travels primarily throughout the Midwest, covering issues and events from Ohio to South Dakota as a National Desk reporter.

Pitch tips:
  • Cheryl is interested in stories that have a national or at least a broad Midwestern scope.  If a story is too focused on one specific state or city, she will refer the person to the local station.
  • Because of the radio format, she is not as interested in video. Adding still photography is helpful to create interest in your pitch, but no attachments.
  • The librarians for NPR are frequently called upon by NPR correspondents to do research for stories, so they are good contacts to have. They regularly scour and post queries to social media sites for experts.
Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires

Jason Dean oversees coverage of subjects including economic, political and cultural developments in the Midwest; national education issues; the agriculture and foods business; the airline and aerospace industries; and key financial exchanges.

Pitch tips:
  • Jason prefers personal pitches – just plugging his name into an email that went to a large group of people doesn’t fool him.
  • He also suggests doing research to identify which WSJ/Dow Jones reporter covers your industry. The Chicago Bureau does not cover all Chicago companies. For example, Chicago tech companies are covered by the San Francisco bureau.
  • Pitch visuals. With every story they cover, they consider what type of video component can be added to it. While they prefer to shoot their own video, it’s helpful to include a link to b-roll or your spokesperson in action in your pitch. He requests links only – no attachments.

Andy Fies, Producer, ABC News

Great crowd at the BW Chicago event!

Andy Fies is one of two producers based in ABC’s Midwest Bureau covering stories for World News with Diane Sawyer,Good Morning America, Nightline and ABCNews.com. His primary area of responsibility is news of national interest from the nation’s heartland.
Pitch tips:
  • Andy is interested in covering stories from all Midwestern companies, but he is mostly drawn to those that show how people on the street are being affected. They want to put a personal view into every story they cover.
  • As ABC recently merged with Yahoo! News, consider the digital version of your story. This means photos and visuals of your story are necessary.
Greg Stricharchuk, Editor, Sunday Business Section, The Chicago Tribune

As an editor in the business news section, Greg Stricharchuk works with reporters and helps conceptualize and edit their stories. He’s also specifically responsible for the Sunday business section.

Pitch tips:
  • While you can copy Greg on your pitches to reporters, it’s best to read the paper and know who writes about your topic. Pitch them directly first.
  • Greg is mainly interested in publicly held companies – not so much private companies or organizations, unless they are starting an industry trend or obtaining significant funding.
  • Don’t pitch experts 2-3 days after a story breaks. Oftentimes, stories are starting to form days before the actual news breaks. Get your expert pitches to the appropriate editor before that happens.
  • Remember that the Tribune is comprised of six newspapers, online sites and TV stations. Pitches that show how the story can cross all mediums are typically well-received.
Thanks again to all of our clients and the communications professionals who were able to join us.
For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.

Chicago Media Panel Provides Detailed, Practical Tips for PR Pros

June 2, 2011

by Andrea Gillespie, Account Executive, Business Wire Chicago

Public relations and communications professionals who were expecting another media panel with obvious suggestions like “don’t send pitches irrelevant to my beat” or “don’t send attachments” were pleasantly surprised at this month’s Business Wire Chicago “Meet the Media” event.

BW Chicago Regional Manager Elaine Stiles (far left) introduces (L-R) moderator Kimberly Eberl, President at Motion PR and panelists Kathryn Janicek, Daypart Manager/Executive Producer, NBC Chicago; Susanna Negovan, Editor-in-Chief, Michigan Avenue Magazine; & Kathryn Born, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, TINC Magazine

While you still shouldn’t send attachments (bogs down their email servers) or off-topic pitches (the worst), our media panel offered more honesty and candor about the art of pitching than we’ve seen in a while.

Below are takeaways from our three panelists:
Kathryn Janicek – Daypart Manager/Executive Producer, NBC Chicago  @kathrynjanicek

Kathryn Janicek is a very busy woman. Not only is she producing content for the actual television broadcast, she also manages the website, Twitter and Facebook pages for the morning news. This gives PR professionals several outlets for coverage. If she can’t give you three minutes on air, she may be able to tweet or send a Facebook update about your event.  Just ask.

  • Please don’t leave her a voicemail. You can text, email, tweet or send a note on Facebook.  She likes pitches short and to the point.
  • Watch her show.  If you do, you’ll know the kinds of stories she’s seeking. She’s especially interested in stories about saving viewers money and staying healthy. 
  • For TV, don’t just think about the segment and its flow. Think about the tease. The tease is just as important as the actual segment. If you can provide creative ideas to tease your potential segment, you’ll gain more interest.
  • Remember that TV is fiercely competitive, so offer something unique and exclusive. Example: Janicek would not do a three-minute grilling segment when people can watch grilling all day on the Food Network.
 Susanna Negovan – Editor-in-Chief, Michigan Avenue Magazine @SusannaNegovan

 As the editor of Michigan Avenue Magazine, Susanna Negovan works on three issues at a time. If you have a story for her September issue, you’re probably too late to make it to print.

  • Her readers are among Chicago’s most affluent and sophisticated. The majority have an income of more than $200K, and most are interested in where people like themselves eat, shop and go in Chicago.
  • Negovan only entertains pitches tailored to her audience. With experience as a PR professional, she knows a mass pitch when she sees one–and they get deleted immediately. She understands that PR people want their clients in every publication, but you have to be honest with your client about what’s realistic. Negovan also LOVES exclusives. Give her an exclusive look at a product, restaurant or interview and you’ll get her attention.
  • Negovan receives hundreds of event invitations. If you want her to attend, don’t bury the lead. No “You’re Invited!”  subject lines, please.  Negovan wants to know what she’s invited to in the SUBJECT line.
  • Another opportunity for PR professionals is personality profiles. Negovan’s readers are interested in successful Chicagoans–how they became successful, where they came from and what drives the person behind the desk or camera.
  • Be mindful of where your clients are advertising. Magazine editorial and advertising are more connected than ever. That doesn’t mean you receive automatic editorial placement as an advertiser, but if you advertise and have a great story to tell, you’re more likely to get a hearing.  However, don’t feel obliged to disclose you are an advertiser as part of your pitch.  Negovan knows who’s advertising in the magazine.
Kathryn Born – Founder & Editor-in-Chief, TINC Magazine

TINC (Technology Industry News – Chicago) is a blog/magazine hybrid about the Chicago IT industry and tech-hobbyist scene. Founder Kathryn Born is specifically interested in Chicago stories.

  • Because tech stories are so technical and intricate, it helps to have an evergreen press release available about your company and its main service. Too often, Born receives very specific press releases when she really needs a backgrounder on the company first.
  • Born receives about 50 emails per hour, so make your subject line stand out. Never forget this rule of pitching: pitch like it’s already a story, not just an idea for a story.
  • She treats all stories and pitches the same, regardless if your company is two people and a logo or Motorola. They all have a place on TINC.
  • TINC is published via social networks, so engaging with them on Facebook, Twitter and other social settings is encouraged.
  • For an online magazine and blog, having photos and videos is a plus. PR professionals need to remember that every journalist is tight for time, so if a reporter is covering your story, respond to their requests as quickly as possible.

Take a look at Business Wire’s events page to see what’s coming up in local events and at our award-winning webinar series.

Event Recap: Chicago-area New Media Opportunities

August 16, 2010

by Andrea Gillespie, Account Executive, Business Wire/Chicago

Abbie Sullivan

Abbie Sullivan, Client Services Representative

Successful media relations in Chicago over the last several years has meant both strengthening your news eye to find and pitch the most relevant stories, and finding new places, people and forms of media in which you can get those stories picked up.

While some news holes seems to be shrinking in and around Chicago, many new print and online opportunities have emerged.  These sites are empowering the community to share and own the news.
On Wednesday, August 4th, Business Wire hosted a media breakfast with the editorial management staff behind some of Chicago’s newest media outlets.


Moderator: Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire


L-R: Raschanda Hall, Tracy Schmidt, Kyle Leonard, Tara Tesimu

Triblocal/Kyle Leonard, Managing Editor

Triblocal is your spot on the Web to find out about local news and events. The site encourages everyone to become contributors by writing stories, posting events to community calendars and posting photos. All contributions will be posted on the site; however, many are chosen for the weekly print edition and even the Chicago Tribune. Key Takeaways for Communications Professionals:

  • All stories must have a local tie to them.
  • You can post stories, photos and videos.
  • Everyone loves looking at videos on YouTube – hyperlink to your YouTube channel.
  • Leonard prefers you post your story or event to the site first, then email him directly if you think your posting would be a good fit for the print version. He also suggests you follow up via phone.
  • Chicago Tribune editors read Triblocal, and some stories found on Triblocal will make it to the Tribune pages.
  • Pitches should be publicists telling a good news story. Every organization has a “Locks of Love type story,” tell them yours.
  • With events, publicize the event two weeks out, but then further publicize the event after it takes place. Send photo galleries and event highlights, especially if there’s a fundraising goal. Many people will see the event after it takes place and still want to donate to or learn more about your cause

ChicagoNow.com/Tracy Schmidt, Editorial Director

ChicagoNow.com is an online community of Chicago bloggers covering a variety of subjects including Chicago politics, fashion, sports, food, music and events. The site was created by the Chicago Tribune Media group but is run by its own full-time staff. Key takeaways for communication professionals:

  • ChicagoNow wants their bloggers to become part of their communities by writing opinions and information about a specific community. Bloggers are also expected to write as often as possible – which means they need content.
  • When pitching bloggers remember:
    • Keep it relevant to their beat.
    • Including photo galleries is extremely desirable as bloggers love having multiple photo options.
    • Follow the blogger on Twitter and friend them on Facebook.
    • Bloggers have to abide by FTC guidelines, so if you gift a blogger, they will have to disclose that information.
    • Sponsored Posts (or “pay to play”) will be noted as such.
  • ChicagoNow’s bloggers regularly speak on ChicagoNow’s radio show, which airs on WGN on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Follow ChicagoNow on Twitter (@ChicagoNow) and learn about regular River North Tweetups where you can mingle and meet the bloggers.
  • ChicagoNow is always looking for bloggers. They are especially looking for someone who can blog about the Public Relations/Adverting industry and what life is like inside the agency walls.
  • If your client is an expert at something (medicine, finance, real estate, etc.) having them become a blogger is a great way to get publicity and expand customer base.

Patch/ Tara Tesimu, Regional Editor

Patch is an AOL-owned hyperlocal site now covering the Chicagoland areas of La Grange and Skokie (more than 48 additional communities are expected to launch shortly). Patch’s focus is community engagement, and they ask readers to submit their own announcements, photos and reviews. All professional editors, writers, photographers and videographers live in or near the communities they serve. Key takeaways for communication professionals:

  • If you have an event in a Patch community, post it – all calendar events go right up on the site. Two weeks is a good lead time.
  • Provide photo galleries and videos, as they will also be included and are highly encouraged.
  • Reach out to editors via the Patch Facebook sites.
  • All businesses in Patch communities have a profile in the Patch directory, so be sure to fill yours out, and add photos, too.
  • Will cover a business or person outside the community if that person has a community tie.

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

Upcoming Business Wire Event: Chicago – August 4

July 21, 2010

Upcoming Business Wire Events

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 this upcoming event in your area:

Chicago’s Media is “Transforming”: Discover New Placement Opportunities

Hosted by Business Wire Chicago

Our companies and clients understand that the reductions in local newsroom staff can mean less opportunity for pitching and placement, but are we missing opportunities with local news organization start-ups with rapidly growing audiences that can give our properly-crafted pitches a new place to call home? Join Business Wire Chicago as we speak with the editorial management staff behind some of Chicago’s newest media outlets.  They will talk about how professional communicators can best work with their staff and what kinds of untapped PR opportunities exist within their organizations. Speakers include Kyle Leonard, Managing Editor at Triblocal and Tracy Schmidt, Editorial Director for ChicagoNow.com. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, August 4 at 8:00 a.m. CT
Maggiano’s Little Italy – Chicago
Amarone Banquet Room
516 N. Clark St. (banquet entrance is on Grand Ave.), Chicago, IL 60654

To register: Please RSVP to Abbie Sullivan at abbie.sullivan@businesswire.com by Thursday, July 29. Please include your name, company name and phone number.

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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