by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire DC
Members of the Business Wire/DC team were in attendance at Media Relations in the Digital Age held at the US Navy Memorial & Heritage Center on Wednesday, July 14th. The event, which was organized by the Professional Development Committee of the PRSA – National Capital Chapter, welcomed four journalists – Ceci Connolly, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, Greg Ip and Jordan Rau – to discuss “how to fearlessly pitch big-league media and get big-time results.”
Ceci Connolly is the national health policy correspondent for the Washington Post. She has been a staff writer at the Post for over a decade and has covered politics, health care and several major disasters. Prior to joining the newspaper in 1997, she covered politics for Congressional Quarterly and worked at the Washington bureau of the St. Petersburg Times.
According to Ceci, public relations practitioners need to think strategically about which news organizations they are targeting. “The more you can be targeted, the more you can be effective,” she said. Assist reporters by providing factual information with credible sources, understanding deadlines and knowing what beats they cover.
Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for the Washington bureau of Marketplace. Previously, she worked as a newscaster for NPR and WAMC in Albany, New York, as well as an anchor at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Nancy reminded the audience that “the early bird gets the worm.” Send pitches with plenty of lead time and plan events around days when journalists may not be as busy. Mondays, Fridays and holidays work best. Marketplace will generally be seeking out stories during these times.
Greg Ip is U.S. Economics Editor for The Economist and also contributes to The Economist’s blog Free Exchange. Before joining The Economist in 2008, he served as chief economics correspondent of the Wall Street Journal and created the paper’s online blog Real Time Economics.
According to Greg, reporters at The Economist are generally looking for experts with deep knowledge about the subjects they are covering. He suggests inserting your organization into the context of a story. “Describe why something affects you in a positive or negative way. Examples are very valuable,” he said.
Jordan Rau is a reporter for Kaiser Health News. His KHN stories have been featured in publications such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as news sites including NPR.org and MSNBC.com. Prior to joining Kaiser Health News, he covered government and health care politics for the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Concord Monitor.
When it comes to public relations, Jordan recommends focusing on “people, data and dish.” Find people who are affected by the issue your organization is concerned about and truly illustrate the story. Provide quantifiable data which can easily be used in a story. Finally, don’t be afraid to dish out information about your competitors. “Some of the most successful people in public relations are the experts in opposition research,” he said. Pitches that suggest conflict with competitors often get more attention than stories that highlight your organization’s own products, services or success.