By Debbie Friez, BurrellesLuce
Although a majority of the story ideas are their own, the journalists on the panel for the Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) annual Media Roundtable on Oct. 26 at the National Press Club say they do take about 20% of story ideas from PR pitches, and about 10% from their editors.
The panel, moderated by WWPR president Tina Beaty, included: Amanda Terkel, Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor, The Huffington Post; Melissa Romero, Staff Writer for Washingtonian, as well as health and wellness writer for the Washingtonian’s blog Well+Being; Molly Walker, Editor for trade publication FierceMarkets' Enterprise IT group, writing regularly for FierceMobileGovernment, FierceGovernmentIT and FierceContentManagement; and, Amy Harder, Energy and Environment Correspondent, National Journal. The four panelists gave insights into their needs and ideas for a better relationship between PR folks and journalists.
Social media plays a large role in promoting her stories, said Terkel. She said to think about how a headline will look in 140 characters. The panel commented on the power of being able to promote a story first (with an exclusive) on social media.
Media relations tips from the panel:
• Email is still the best way to contact them, but don’t have an intern follow-up with a call 40-minutes later. A phone call may be appropriate if the pitch is time-sensitive.
• Don’t be afraid to help them put the links together for a story and suggest other people to interview or places to gather more information.
• Speed is important, so have a good subject line.
• Do not let multiple members of the team pitch the same story to them. Only one pitch is needed.
• If using a mail merge program to blast email press releases or pitches, check them first. It is annoying to see their name in all caps, spelled wrong, missing or an outlet name instead of a personal salutation.
• The panel was not in favor of social media pitches. They seemed open to sharing information if a relationship has already been established. Romero commented on using Twitter direct message to share email addresses, when the PR person does not have her address.
• Don’t shy away from pitching a small blog to get an exclusive review and then use that post for pitching a larger media outlet.
Harder is looking for access to key policy people or insights from key Capitol Hill players. Walker commented on finding pre-release guidance or insights useful for a complicated release or announcement.