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.


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