Take Advantage of Every Opportunity to “Meet the Media”
Despite all the advances in technology and how the wire services have basically been replaced by the internet, and even with the revolution caused by social media, pitching journalists is still heavily based on real world, not virtual, relationships.
The best way to pitch a given media outlet is to target a journalist who may have an interest in your story, based on his or her own “beat” or general interests, which you can glean from reading their stories, watching them on TV, listening to radio or browsing on line. The best school is still old school. While there are many “bots” that sort press releases and publish them on websites automatically, that’s not exactly how you get the TODAY Show. Because many journalists have blogs now, they are actually giving you valuable information about their interests, which allow you to try to align your messaging to match their needs as real human beings.
Cision has a very good database, and I particularly like it for reaching out to bloggers. Like any database, it’s very hard to keep up to date on media outlets because of mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and general turmoil in the media and the fact that in local TV a two year stay anywhere seems unusual.
My advice for anyone who deals with the media, is to take whatever opportunity to meet them in person. When I was a journalist covering crime, it really helped to know some individual police officers. (I actually even knew some of the criminals in Florida. After all, it was the early 80’s, the TV show MIAMI VICE was not too far off reality). Later as a medical reporter I met and became friends with many doctors and married a nurse (although she wasn’t a nurse then).
If you want to pitch the media, you should know them, understand their lifestyle, their deadlines, their point of view. I’m a former journalist, so I get it. I really never gave PR people one thought one way or the other when I was a TV reporter and it certainly didn’t occur to me I would be on the other side of the profession, but I definitely know how TV producers think. The reality is they don’t think about PR people very much.
Throughout the country, PRSA does an excellent job of putting on media panels. In Atlanta, they do “speed dating” events where journalists and bloggers move from table to table so everyone can have “face time” and make personal connections. Part of writing this blog is to remind everyone that PRSA New York is putting together a panel October 7 at MSLGroup Headquarters with the focus on national talk shows. The panel includes Karina Mancebo, Director of Talent Relations, Talk Stoop, Allie Merriam, Producer & Host, POPSUGAR,Siobhan Schanda, Supervising Talent Producer, The Wendy Williams Show and Ashley Smith, Producer, Coffee with America.
I haven’t had the chance to study the line-up for PRSA International in Atlanta, but I’m sure there are some media panel opportunities there as well. Get to know your media. Honestly, the best time to acquaint yourself with them is when you do NOT have to pitch them anything. These relationships are best built over time. Let them see you as a resource they can turn to when they need help on a story—that’s a favor that could pay dividends for years to come.
To register for PRSA New York, go to this link: