I recently attended “Feeling Ignored by Editors?” a meet-the-media Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) event held in Providence, R.I., on September 27.
The media panel included:
Sue Areson, The Providence Journal
Artie Tefft, WJAR Channel 10
Andrew Gobeil, WPRO Radio
Scott Pickering and Patricia Resende, Patch.com
Here are some of my notes and comments from the discussion:
- Editors want “real” people – As public relations professionals, we have a role as connectors, but we are NOT the story. Especially for interviews, reporters are interested in talking to the people who are the focus of the story. For example, if your company is participating a children’s charity, have some kids available to talk to the reporters.
- When to send – Your news release or media alert should be delivered on a schedule that pays mind to the type of outlet you are targeting. A good practice is to send your release out ahead of the event by one month, two weeks and one day. The exceptions include magazines which require much longer lead times (often three or more months). And while it is a good idea to notify broadcast media well ahead of an event, they don’t actually set their schedules until the day of, so don’t bother pitching a story far in advance.
- Social Media - The editors seemed divided on the use of social media for pitches. For example, newer online publications such as Patch.com, heavily rely upon social media for story leads. However, older more established publications, such as the Providence Journal, still rely upon e-mail as their preferred method. It is a good practice to check with the editor or reporter you wish to contact to see which method they prefer.
- Providence Journal Schedule – The Monday paper is the smallest, so you will be competing with fewer stories if you aim for a release in that edition. The Sunday is the biggest and most of the stories are planned around Wednesday for that edition.
- Multimedia Press Packages – The consensus among the editors was to spend more time on the quality of your story rather than dressing it up with lots of multimedia (video, audio, etc.). A TV station will NOT use your video on their broadcasts, unless they specifically ask for it. But a video might help them visualize a story during the pitch.
- Experts - Editors are always on the lookout for experts who can add perspective and credibility to their stories. Think about who in your company might be able to provide an expert interview on a topic that is relevant to the interests of their audience.
I am a member of the Southeastern New England Chapter of the Public Relations Society of American and I recommend you see what they have to offer www.prsasene.org.