Lessons Learned at the 2019 SPJ Valley Publicity Summit

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This past weekend, Autumn and I attended the 16th annual Valley Publicity Summit, presented by SPJ. For those unfamiliar, the publicity summit is a day-long event where local journalists and PR pros come together to share best practices, industry updates and timely pitches.

This was my first time attending and I went in with some kind of idea of what I could expect –multiple people weighed in on the famous speed-pitching session with reporters and how to make the most of our three minutes.

New to the event this year were two media panels – one for mid-career PR pros and one for early-career pros with fewer than five years of experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the advice shared by our panel, which included Christy Bricks, executive producer of Cronkite News; Patrick O’Grady, managing editor of Phoenix Business Journal; Richard Ruelas, reporter for The Arizona Republic; Ed Roth, executive producer for AZTV’s Arizona Daily Mix; Diane Faith Wright, news producer for ABC 15; and Tyson Milanovich, senior executive producer of morning news for Arizona’s Family.

With a healthy mix of print and broadcast outlets, our panel had varying and valuable opinions that gave us insight into how to best craft our pitches to meet their specific needs. What stood out to me most was the single piece of advice given by each panelist to conclude the discussion.

  • Make it easy for them by including visuals, details and (most importantly) why they should care.
  • Craft pitches to specific shows or columns that exist in that publication.
  • Consume media – know your market and don’t pitch stories the outlet has already covered.
  • Don’t send everyone in the newsroom the same pitch – they will know. Find a specific reporter with your beat and pitch to them.
  • Send photos and video, whenever possible.
  • Don’t be needy – media are less inclined to work with a PR pro who is asking too much of them.

Across the board, a main theme that everyone could agree on for pitching was to make sure your content is compelling. This one feels like a no-brainer, because everyone is always looking for a good story to share. As PR pros, it’s our job to figure out what is newsworthy about our clients and help you find the best story to pitch to the media. If you need help figuring out your compelling story, HMA has storytellers who can help.

Annelise Krafft
Annelise Krafft
Annelise is a Phoenix native who has spent her whole life around the media. When she’s not writing, you can find her tracking the latest celebrity gossip. Check out Annelise's complete bio here.

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