PR Pitching Tips From Media Pros: 2010 Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit
July 1, 2010 Leave a comment
© 2009, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Bulldog Reporter‘s Media Relations Summit held in New York City, June 28th rocked! What a pleasure and an honor that I was given the opportunity to participate. The folks at Bulldog, especially Fay Shapiro, are a class act. And it didn’t hurt that NASDAQ invited us to ring the morning bell the Friday before the event. What an experience! This Texillian (Brazilian living in Texas) was made to feel like a New York celebrity by the NASDAQ staff.
So what did I get out of the summit?
Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. Bulldog brought together an impressive list of journalists and industry stars that shared insight, pitching tips, and social media savviness.
Tina Brown of The Daily Beast, who gave us a tour of the site and said newspapers are dying due to the greed of the conglomerates that own them. She also stated that relevance and news awareness is key in pitching.
Ellen Levine of Hearst Magazines stated that the iPad would not replace magazines until one could read it in the bathtub without fear of it touching the water. She also said “Don’t give it away for free” in reference to both online content and advice her father gave her as a young woman. The crowd laughed heartily.
Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal stated that a bad PR pitch might start with “You may have seen this in The New York Times…” He also stated that to go into journalism now you have to be at the cutting edge of your business (multimedia, technology, etc).
There was also a bit of mud slinging here an there from one publication to another, mostly centered around the sensitive subject of content aggregation, but no one seemed to take it too personally, or they were too high class to show it.
At a more personal level, I moderated round-tables for Daryl Chen of Parade in the morning, and Carl Sullivan of Newsweek after lunch. PR practitioners from far and wide gathered round like adventurers around a campfire listening intently to the storytellers.
Daryl said something that really struck all of us as enlightening. She was talking about how their readers are generally reading Parade on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee, sitting with a spouse or significant other, and that anyone pitching a story should keep that in mind. Which, of course, made me think of the fact that this is something to keep in mind for all publications: where is the reader likely to be when reading a particular publication and who will he/she be in the presence of. Parade wants human interest stories. If you have a product to pitch, find the human angle. Is the inventor 85 years old and also invented the light switch?
Carl stated that editors at Newsweek will keep their eyes on Twitter and may even get story ideas there. He talked about the fact that the magazine is up for sale but things are running as usual for now. Carl said as a managing editor people really shouldn’t be pitching him stories directly. It’s better to form relationships with the section editors and send those story ideas in that direction. Someone asked him if he’d ever received a Twitter pitch and he said no but that he wouldn’t be apposed to it if it was done well.
Everyone seemed to be in agreement that you have to keep your pitch, whatever form it came in, brief and to the point. Make sure that the subject line on an email is telling of the content. Get to the point in the first paragraph and save the details for deeper in the pitch. No one seems to want phone calls either, especially not within 24 hours of sending the email pitch. It might take an editor a few days to around to an email depending on what is going on.
One last tip we heard from Daryl, if you do call an editor or journalist, don’t start the call with the question “are you busy?”