Feb 10 2010

A little help from my friends


Last week, I asked journalists and communications experts to weigh in on one of my favorite topics–media relations. I’m teaching a media relations course this semester at BSU and wanted the students to get a variety of tips from a variety of people in varying roles, so they could see that while tactics and styles may differ, basic principles apply.

I received several comments, a sampling of which I’ve posted below. If you’re new to PR, this will be helpful. If you’re not new to PR, it’s a good refresher. Sometimes we forget that even the smallest gestures are important. Enjoy!


Dani Grigg, Reporter, Idaho Business Review: Give me a solid news hook–something that happened or some milestone that makes the story timely, not just “ABC Co. is awesome.” Also, develop a relationship with me outside the story pitches–meet me for coffee, interact w/ me on Twitter, etc.

Jill Kuraitis, Editor, NewWest.net/Boise: Don’t hesitate to propose what may seem like a wacky story. A good editor may help you think it through, so be open to modifying your original idea.  Also, perfect grammar and punctuation absolutely matter. Format of your pitch, not so much.

Melissa McGrath, journalist turned PR pro: Always call back – even if you don’t have an answer. Let them know you’re trying. That’s my #1 tip.

Niki Forbing-Orr, Editor/Local News, Idaho Statesman: Know who you’re pitching stories to. Be relevant. Most successful pitches I get tell me quickly why and how I might use the info. But don’t waste my time by telling me it’s a great story — tell me what the story is and what’s the impact might be

David N. Compton, Principal, Compton Communications: Condense your thoughts. Don’t waste their time wit too much explanation. Keep your thoughts to about three short points and make sure one of them is a nugget think about. Journalists are like raccoons, you don’t want to give them too many shiny things to play with.

Wendy Knorr, Communications Guru, Reno, NV:  Be honest. Gaining their respect as a truthful professional can make all the difference.

Syd Sallabanks, Principal, Gallatin Public Affairs: I agree with Jill: Be creative and flexible and a great story may develop. Know the news agency’s interests and don’t call during deadline.

Steve Stuebner, Writer, PR Pro, Outdoor Enthusiast: Know the media outlets that you’re pitching; make sure you have a solid story to pitch; and write a good pitch; TV is kind of a different animal in that they have a super short attention span (because of the pace), and you need to make followup calls to ensure that they read your email or paid attention to the event details.

Julie Fanselow, Journalist, Freelance Writer: We’re all media now. Will you use your superpowers for good or evil?