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Yesterday, PRSA Phoenix hosted its last media breakfast of the year at CO+HOOTS in Downtown Phoenix – and it was a doozy!
The event was chaired by HMA’s own Rachel Brockway and focused on how to best work with local Valley editors. The event featured East Valley Tribune editor Ralph Zubiate, who also spoke on behalf of the Ahwatukee Foothills News team; Arizona Republic/AZ Central contributions editor Carrie Watters; In Business Magazine editor RaeAnne Marsh; Raising Arizona Kids Magazine editor Kara Morrison; and Arizona Builders Exchange editor Rachel Kettenhofen.
Here is a little more about each one – and advice directly from them on how to best work with their outlet(s):
Fun facts about Zubiate:
- He once repaired dryers for Montgomery Ward.
- He was 20-year staffer at the Arizona Republic.
- He worked at a 7-11 during the late shift on weekends next to a rowdy bar – and yes, he did get assaulted!
- He collects Christmas music.
- His deep, dark secret? He has seen Barry Manilow live four times.
Advice from Zubiate:
- First, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Zubiate started at the Tribune editor in April 2016 – and promptly got rid of a lot of the generic submitted content within the publication, aside from freelancer’s work and – of course – op-ed pieces.
- Be clear on their major coverage areas – East Valley Tribune DOES NOT MEAN all of the East Valley. They cover the Southeast Valley only, specifically Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler. Keep them in mind for Ahwatukee, too, but pitch those stories to the Ahwatukee Foothills News, who has similar deadlines and needs.
- Pitch him via email – and don’t follow-up with a phone call. Instead, follow-up with a second email first. He gets 200 emails a day and tries to read them all – sometimes just needs a quick follow-up to get back to you.
- If pitching him on something timely, he needs about 10 days advance notice – more if you add in the time for follow-up. Play it safe – pitch at least two weeks out.
- One of his favorite sections of the paper is the Faith column, which is in every issue and open to tell positive stories about people of faith in the Southeast Valley.
- He is open to meeting public relations folks for lunch or coffee to share more about the Times Media Group and talk about great story ideas.
- If it’s a post-event story you are seeking (perhaps on a major Southeast Valley event, don’t’ try to ask for a reporter to come out and cover it. There aren’t any to do so! Instead, work with Zubiate on how you can help him to get photos and data for a potential post-event write-up. But don’t do it after the fact – coordinate it in advance once he gives it a green light.
- Big news – they are planning to have an issue out on Thanksgiving Day! Keep it in mind and start pitching now.
Fun facts about Watters:
- She taught high school social studies before stumbling into the media business.
- She lives in Surprise and embraces the telecommute option whenever possible.
- She was once one of about 12 education reporters at the media outlet she joined 11 years ago. Today, that number is unheard of – especially in a beat like education, which has been downsized as parents now turn to school websites and Facebook for news.
- She is the loyal owner of a pug named Pablo.
Advice from Watters:
- First, her email is email@example.com.
- Like Zubiate, use email first – even as a follow-up. If she doesn’t get back to you after a few days, then call.
- Her lead time is about 10 days. For example, they actually print the Wednesday community sections for each city on Mondays. That means that if you want something in for that Wednesday edition, you should have pitched it at least the Wednesday prior.
- Though she got her start in hard news, she finds working in the community and contribution space critical – meaning working with good PR folks is critical.
- Not sure who to pitch? Rather than just assume it’s her and pitch away, why not ask her via email, using some of the pitch or a custom note? She is happy to help you get information where it needs to go!
- Got specific information for a community in the Valley? She is your go-to editor.
- Got a Viewpoint or Op-Ed? She is also the go-to person for these pitches. In fact, she is the editor of the big Viewpoint section of the paper on the weekends.
- If your pitch involves the question “can you send a reporter to…” – the answer is no. She doesn’t have reporters to send to events or to cover topics. She is looking to you for good content she can re-work (aka remove the superlatives), research and/or print.
- Looking for ways to work with her? She needs news briefs, first person accounts of major stories or trends, letters to the editor, viewpoints, op-ed stories and hyper-local stories with photos. Even post-event photos are write-ups are possible (must show an impact though – not sending just to try to get post-event coverage). Reach out to her first to see if she even wants them. Never just assume and mass send.
- If you are not sure how to best pitch her, why not invite her out for coffee or happy hour and talk about it in person? She is totally open to it.
Fun facts about Marsh:
- She did a 143-foot bungee “dive” in New Zealand
- She helped put out a forest fire in a wilderness area where she was backpacking
- She once had a one-on-one. sit-down interview with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
- She was on the board of directors of Rosie’s House, which is a nonprofit music academy in the Valley.
- She was a media guest at the 2nd Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi.
Advice from Marsh:
- First, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Second, big news! In addition to publishing In Business Magazine each month, her parent company (In Media Company) is launching a series of community monthly publications called Vicinity. The first – focused on the Northeast Valley – is out now. Click here to take a look.
- As with the others, please email her a story idea first. She tries to respond within a few days (if not immediately) if she can use the story or is able to file it away for another issue. If you don’t hear from her, she is open to a call – lots of pitches that get sent her way end up in SPAM.
- Trying to pitch her a timely news story? Well…be sure to do so about eight weeks in advance. For example, she is now getting the December issue finalized. For smaller stories, six weeks is probably safe, but the sooner you have the information, the better.
- There are now quite a few “regular” sections of In Business. If you have something specific for Health Care, Technology or the Legal world, be sure to check those sections before pitching.
- Asking her to send a reporter to something? Well, she doesn’t have any! She IS the reporter in most cases, and works with a few trusted freelancers.
- Want to meet up with her to learn more about any of her outlets? Try for before the main workday starts or after – trying to do a lunch or late afternoon meeting is just too tough for her when she is in the midst of the workday.
Fun facts about Morrison:
- She stared at Raising Arizona Kids after years with the Arizona Republic back in April.
- She is the mom to a great four year old.
- This editor has lived in five states and (briefly) the District of Columbia.
- She has a rescue cat named Buddha
- She grew up on a popcorn farm but has yet to keep a plant alive.
Advice from Morrison:
- First, her email is email@example.com.
- Be sure to pitch stories AND events (even if you just have some of the data) about 10 weeks out – 12 if you can. Can’t get an event to us that soon? Use the online calendar to get it published.
- While the magazine used to publish pages and pages of directories on every topic you can imagine parents could want, they are now more focused on putting together advice for parents on “top 10” or “best” things – such as “best places to host a birthday party,” or “top 10 tips for going back to school.” In you pitches, focus on the why and how your idea can fit into something like this.
- It isn’t just camps and birthday parties in the pages of Raising Arizona Kids – they have covered some pretty serious topics, even child trafficking. If you have a serious story, send it her way!
- Is your brand or client a resource for parents – tell her about it.
- Want to meet to talk more about the magazine and how to work together? She is totally open to it, but with a four-year-old at home, it has to be coffee during the work day or in the morning.
Fun facts about Kettenhofen:
- She has a Bachelor’s in Architecture from ASU
- She lived in South Africa
- She is an artist in her free time
Advice from Kettenhofen:
- First, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Like with the others, pitch via email. Feel free to follow-up with another email or a call.
- She loves exclusives!
- While they are an online outlet, pitch them a few weeks in advance if a bigger story so they can research it.
- Their audience is niche: contractors, builders, architects.
- Their goal is niche: to give the above news to help them get more work.
- They definitely take contributed content, but if published elsewhere first, let them know as they are aggregators of content as well and might be able to use from other site and attribute to them.
- If a project has already started, let them know. It changes how they will cover it. if the project has not started yet and they have some time, the story can be bigger for their audience.
- She is open to meeting one on one, but coffee is best.