Recently, PRSA invited two members of the local media, Amber Paluch, local news editor for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Trish Ossmann, assistant news director for WBAY, to discuss their preferences when it comes to receiving pitches for story ideas. Below is a list of tips that they suggested to ensure that your story gets placed.
Send pitches via social media. Although the number one way that media professionals prefer to receive pitches is via email, Paluch said that most reporters at the Press-Gazette and other area newspapers follow PR pros on Twitter in order to get story ideas. Often, it is a quicker way to connect with a reporter on a more personal level and get a response.
Make subject lines interesting. Keep in mind that reporters receive a numerous amount of pitches daily, and they all typically have the same subject line. According to Ossmann, if an email’s subject line reads “press release” she most likely won’t even open it. “Since I get a lot of pitch emails everyday, the ones that have boring subject lines are usually skipped. You have to make it interesting so it catches my eye and makes me want to open it,” Ossmann said.
Flag important emails. News stations are definitely competitive with other news outlets in the area, so missing an important story could cost them a lot of money. If you have a breaking news story, it is best to flag the email or even call a reporter direct. They will appreciate your information and it will make your relationship stronger.
Be aware of large-scale events. As much as they wish it wasn’t so, reporters have to focus their time on covering large events that take place in their area. Sometimes, important and newsworthy stories are skipped when something like the Superbowl or a big marathon is taking place. It is important to remember that, even though you may have a great story, it may not be placed during a time like this.
Be careful with exclusives. Exclusives are a great way to build your relationship with a certain news outlet or reporter, but be cautious of what message that is sending to the other news outlets and reporters that you are connected to. Ossmann said that she and her coworkers watch every station during the evening news and will notice if a company spoke to another station and not them. Even if they had a great relationship with that company previously, it is damaging to be selective on who you give story ideas to.
Always get back to reporters ASAP. According to both Paluch and Ossmann, the number one complaint of reporters is that PR people don’t get back to them when they said they would or in a timely manner. Often, the reporter will get frustrated and move onto another story at a different company. It is important to have media relations as a number one priority amongst your daily tasks to ensure that you are getting them the information they need.
Include enough lead-time. Even if you have a breaking news story, the media often needs at least an hour to prepare and arrive on site. Both Paluch and Ossmann agreed that breaking news stories should be pitched about an hour or more before air time and all other stories should be pitched 3 days to a week before.
Include extra information. If a pitch includes the contact information for sources, photos and video (if applicable), the story is more likely to be placed. Reporters are very busy just like we are, and any way that we can make their lives easier is appreciated. One note from Ossmann: make sure that pictures and video are good quality, or they can’t use them on live TV. In addition, Paluch mentioned that if you are planning on sending a lot of digital media, make sure to only send it to one email account or their servers get jammed and the only way to fix the problem is to delete your pitch.
Keep these tips in mind and you will be on your way to securing more placements! For more information on PRSA and to see a schedule of PRSA-NEW’s upcoming events, visit www.prsanewis.org.