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I attended a PRSA media breakfast at the Arizona Republic yesterday morning. The event included a tour of the newsroom along with a Q&A session with four journalists, including Ryan Randazzo, business reporter, Catherine Reagor, real estate reporter, Stephanie Innes, healthcare reporter and Lauren Saria ,dining reporter..

Here are a few takeaways from each panelist.

Lauren:  Don’t think “only” about your client! She mentioned that some of the best PR folks she works with go above and beyond. Instead of pitching a story solely highlighting your client, send an overall story idea on how to include them. Her example? If the restaurant you represent is coming out with a new blueberry beer, spend 10 minutes googling other breweries with a fruit-infused beer as well. She said, “this shows me not only do you understand what I do, you respect what I do.”

Ryan: The best time to pitch? No more than a week in advance. He knows what he will be doing the next 7-10 days and anything over that will get lost or forgotten about. Also, high-level executives aren’t always the best person to speak to. He mentioned that he once had a media meeting at a local brewery with three executives and they talked about one specific bartender the whole time. He laughed, thinking “why don’t I just talk to her then?!” If that’s the story and that’s the unique angle, you do not need the executive with the title to make the story. Oh, and if he hasn’t responded, your email may be among the 30,000 in his cluttered inbox. A follow-up call is always welcomed.

Catherine:  “Survive and thrive”- that was her quote of the day. She is passionate about her career and passionate about the AZ Republic. In order to survive and thrive, we must all work together. Don’t give up if you haven’t heard back on your story pitch. Keep trying. They want the story and they want it first. Don’t know who to pitch to? She said she is always willing to help and she will always direct you to the best contact. When it comes to the best story angle, remember to keep it consumer-focused. Another helpful hint? If you have visuals, be sure to attach a dropbox link in your initial pitch.

Stephanie:  Send your unique sources when it comes to a large topic. Stephanie once wrote a story on Senator John McCain’s decision to end his cancer treatment. She mentioned that story included creative sources that helped give the article a different perspective. She is in tune with her audience and she understands the stories her readers want. (and she has metrics to prove it)

Similar to the SPJ event I recently attended, I always appreciate the times that journalists and PR pro’s can come together, learn together and grow together. As Catherine noted, we are all in this together.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put a follow-up call into Ryan.

Kelsey Makings
Kelsey Makings
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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