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Recently, the professional organization Washington Women in Public Relations hosted members of the media for a state of the industry roundtable at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. As a PR professional, how many times do you wish you could just pick the brain of media on what pitches work, what they think of PR, and their view of on traditional versus digital media – here is an insider peek.
- Amanda Terkel, Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor, The Huffington Post
- Melissa Romero, Staff Writer for Washingtonian and Health and Wellness manager of Washingtonian’s blog Well+Being
- Molly Walker, Editor, for trade publication FierceMarkets‘ Enterprise IT group
- Amy Harder, Energy and Environment Correspondent, National Journal
How can PR professionals help you get the content you need, besides a well formulated pitch?
Harder: “Make all pitches short and sweet with no attachments. Just tell me the facts – once we connect then you can provide more assets for the story.”
How effective is social media in pitching a story to journalists?
Terkel: “I don’t like to be pitched on social media. I tend to ignore messages like that on these platforms. Sure try to stay in touch on Twitter with me but I do miss a lot.”
Harder: “If a PR person sends me a targeted follow-up tweet to something I pushed out that’s great but don’t pitch a cold new story to me on social media.”
Walker: “If you are an active, credible voice on Twitter I will follow you but I don’t typically get pitched on social media.”
How do you feel about the current state of media bias and the negative feedback the media receives?
Terkel: “Readers have choices. You can get your media from wherever you want – a whole host of outlets. Media has always been bias. Judge stories for what they are and read different sources. When candidates blame media they are just looking for a scapegoat.”
Has the ‘exclusive’ become less relevant in today’s lightning-fast, crowd-sourced digital news environment?
Terkel: “Exclusives are more important than ever. I am far less likely to cover a story that has already been covered somewhere but I will spend more time with it if it is really newsworthy for the Huffington Post.”
Harder: “For National Journal exclusives are even more important – I love studies but only if the data is new, if it has been published multiple times I don’t need it.”
When weighing news value, what factors do you consider today that didn’t exist five or even three years ago, such as virality?
Terkel: “It is hard to break-through the clutter with a story – I do use social media to share a story I have written. A strong headline is important but it is not just about creating traffic – it is about starting a conversation.”
How has fact checking changing from traditional print to digital media?
Romero: “Online content moves quickly, less fact checking versus print editions which goes through a month of fact checking. With an online story we can update a story if something needs to be corrected.”
Harder: “The role of fact checker has changed and at many places has been reduced due to budgets. The responsibility is on the reporter to get the facts right. We will print corrections when needed.”
In response to the Adobe survey reporting that only 11 percent of people think PR is a ‘valuable job’ what’s your perception of our profession?
Terkel: “I couldn’t do my job without PR professionals; I need a good PR person to do my job.”
Harder: “I have a positive perception of PR as a profession but sometimes it is overwhelming – so many stories and so many pitches.”
Walker: “PR is essential to media. I don’t envy a PR person’s position though!”
What is the best way to pitch you with a well researched and targeted story?
Terkel: “A relevant subject is best. When you send an email don’t follow-up with a call immediately – that is basic advice but it still happens frequently. Research, target, and tell me how it’s a story fit for me.”
Walker: “My beat is broad based on the topic so know how the story you are pitching really fits my audience within the topic.”
Is digital media the death of print?
Walker: “Online enhances credibility as we can link to other stories and bolster content with digital assets like videos. Academic world still needs to teach traditional journalism – digital media is a channel in which strong journalism still needs to exist.”
Tina McCormack Beaty’s passion is food, local retail, and small businesses. Professionally focusing on strategic communications, branding, and entrepreneurial marketing using integrated tools of social media and PR. Currently, Tina is president of Washington Women in Public Relations and is an accounts lead on Porter Novelli’s foodie team. She also serves on Miami University’s (OH) Alumni Board. You can reach Tina at @TMStrategy.