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How to Pitch: Top Three Takeaways from Portland “Media Speed Dating” Event

September 19, 2012

I recently attended the BusinessWire Media Roundtable Discussion last week in Portland, Oregon. At the event, local PR professionals had the opportunity to interact directly with local media (organizers called it “Media Speed Dating”) to discover how the changing nature of today’s newsroom is impacting local journalists. I spent 15 minutes with five journalists and asked questions about how they preferred to work with PR professionals, and what advice they could provide, which was quite insightful. Below are my top three takeaways:

  1. Value the Relationship: Multiple media representatives mentioned that relationships are one of the most important things they consider when determining who to work with, and thus, which announcements to cover. If you build the relationship by providing reporters with industry-related news prior to when your announcement goes out, they are more likely to pay attention to you and want to cover your announcement when it is released. Send follow-up emails and tweets that are beneficial to them, even during times when you don’t need anything in return. This will help build trust and credibility on your part.
  2. Make your Pitches Short, Sweet and Compelling: As industry professionals know, reporters have more on their plates now than ever before. In addition to writing stories, they are also asked to provide images, videos, tweets, and other multimedia to accompany their articles. Because reporters are so pressed for time and receive anywhere from 500-1,000 emails per day, make your pitches short, compelling and to the point. Reporters also mentioned that it is important to tie in your pitch with a unique angle for their readers. Convince them that you understand what is important to their publication’s audiences.
  3. Be Open and Truthful: One local blogger stressed that it is essential to be open and transparent about your news. PR used to be about controlling your story, but now with the Internet, social media and smartphones, nothing is hidden anymore. PR professionals are still responsible for helping to position the news favorably, but it’s best to be upfront and truthful when it comes to facts about your clients’ products and services, including details on the competition. If you are open, you will be more likely to be trusted as a reliable source by media and bloggers, now and in the future. As he stated: “The truth will get out one way or another, so don’t hide it.”

 

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