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 Last week brought another fabulous PRSA New Pros event in which some of the Valley’s brightest young PR professionals came together to pick the brains of local business reporters.

And by “local business reporters” I mean people that New Pros want as their new BFFs, especially those with finance, healthcare, law and other professional industries we at HMA call “boy clients.” (Although I’d like to state that many of our “boy clients” are led by females. Girl power!)

The panel included legendary Phoenix Business Journal healthcare columnist Angela Gonzales, Arizona Business Gazette contributor and freelancer Georgann Yara (who wrote this awesome story), and, although not physically present but there in spirit (in the form of a handy-dandy tip guide), Michael Gossie of AZ Big Media.

Now, understand that PRSA New Pros is pretty much the same thing as Fight Club so I really shouldn’t be giving out this coveted information.  But, it is also a PR networking group and PR folks are not ones to keep secrets, just embargoes, so I’ll share only some pointers the panelist shared.

 

Background:

It’s always helpful to know a little about a reporter past their regular beats. It may surprise you what you find out. For example, did you know that Angela originally studied PR to become a jingle writer? I’m not saying you should craft a little ditty for your client instead of a pitch, but you never know when factoids like these come in handy.

Do a Google search to see if they cover additional beats or write for other publications. Also research the pub so you are familiar with its sections, competitors and sister pubs. Nowadays with so much cross-posting and shared content, chances are you are sending the same pitch to the same people multiple times. For example, if you pitch Michael, you are pitching to potentially eight publications (still do a bit of research as to which publication you think your story is best suited for).

Trends:

What use to be “new, new, new” is now “what has improved?”  Most wanted businesses stories are those that have changed in light of the economy or businesses that have found success by making the recession work for them. As far as start-ups, the business angle would have to be a compelling story of where the business got its funding.

Pitching:

If ABG is not interested in story, try the community sections of the Republic where the news is happening.

Keep your pitches brief. Give the reporter enough so they have the idea, then let them ask for details.

Press conferences are not usually for print journalists, unless something huge like a medical marijuana announcement is happening or we are striving to “break” the news. Please, no more shovel photos! No more giant scissors! (Unless being used for something other than a ribbon cutting, in which case would be really weird and probably news worthy.)

Realize the power of your press release. Lots of times a PR rep will send a general press release out to several pubs, but only pitch an angle for a larger story to a single publication. Make sure that the original release didn’t turn into a huge story (without any reporter notification or questions) by the competing media outlet. It’s happened before!

Start your pitches with “NAME, I have a story that is perfect for your REGULAR SECTION.” Then tell the story.

Deadlines:

KNOW DEADLINE DATES! DON’T PITCH ON THEM! THANK YOU!

When pitching an interview, don’t ask the reporter what time works best for him. Give the reporter a few windows to work with as their schedule is much more irregular than the average Joe’s.

PR pros have their own deadlines and quotas to fulfill. If in a pinch, the web is your best bet. Let the reporter know this as most big publications have a person ready and willing to post to the blog…but don’t do this on the reporters’ deadlines.

Gripes:

The “It’s _____ Month” rarely works for business stories.

A high-resolution photo is a .jpg 300dpi, 5 x 7inch, not a headshot you pulled from LinkedIn.

Don’t pitch fast-food clients to Arizona Business Magazine.

 

The other things – like the secret code word needed in the subject line so your pitch isn’t immediately deleted– are, well, just too valuable to be posted on a high-trafficked blog such as this one.

Think that code word bit is true? You’ll have to join PRSA New Pros (or the PRSA Phoenix Chapter if you are an Old Pro) to find out!

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

3 Comments

  1. Page Englert says:

    The first rule of New Pros is you don’t talk about New Pros….

    Stephanie, you rock. Thanks for the code word shout out. Sad, but true story. Do what you gotta do, right?

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