Decoding the Media: National Journalists Divulge Best Way to Build Relationships

By Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

What does it take to land a signature placement? You know, the media placement that positions your company as an industry-leader with the smartest executive team and best products? According to speakers on PRSA Chicago’s recent panel, a heck of a lot more than it used to.

Business Wire team members recently attended “National Media in Chicago: Who’s Here and What Do They Cover?” featuring journalists from top national media outlets including:

  • Diane Eastabrook, Correspondent, Al Jazeera America (@AJAM)
  • Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal (@JasonRDean)
  • Flynn McRoberts, Chicago Bureau Chief and Editor-at-Large, Bloomberg News (@FlynnMcRoberts)
  • Neil Munshi, Chicago and Midwest Correspondent, Financial Times (@NeilMunshi)

During this discussion the speakers divulged best pitch practices for PR professionals. In each case, each journalist reiterated the exact same advice – all good PR professionals must do their research before reaching out. This, they told us, is the number one way to create strong relationships and build trust in your company.

In this case, research does not mean referencing their latest article, post or tweet. In PR, researching the reporter means understanding both what they write about and who their audience is.  In today’s world, general pitches only slightly on target with the reporter’s beat and readership are unacceptable. It is better to write highly targeted press releases, with a highly specific audience. Not only will this support your internal business goals, you will provide better content to your beat  reporters.

A few other themes were addressed to give insight into their news process:

Newsrooms embrace social media…to an extent.

In April 2013 Bloomberg News introduced corporate and CEO Twitter feeds to their terminals, a huge step for highly-regulated industries that may not have access to social news at work

  • Business Wire Tip: If you delete a tweet archived in the Bloomberg terminal, you must call Bloomberg to have them manually remove it.  These tweets are not automatically deleted.

While social media is expanding, many journalists are still cautious.  Financial Times’ Neil Munshi was quick to point out that when a big story hits he shuts off Twitter so he can focus on uncovering facts vs. reading potentially false reports.

  • Business Wire Tip: For any communications, especially in times of crisis, it is important for companies to be transparent and provide as much information about the situation as possible in order to control the conversation.  Considering issuing a press release or utilizing your corporate blog to ensure the words used to describe your news are your own.

Content other than photos are rarely re-purposed verbatim; however these elements have huge value in showcasing the larger story to the reporter and brand fans.

In the age of videos and infographics, companies should include content elements that tell the brand’s larger story.  Video works well as it provides a face to the story, while images drive deeper emotional connections.

  • Business Wire Tip: Content marketing and distribution is an effective way to gain attention and influence key constituents; however, it’s important to ensure the story is relevant and timely to drive conversations. Check out on our recent post on this topic.

Press releases remain relevant to news gatherers.

The resounding feedback from speakers is “press releases are alive and well.” According to Jason Dean of the Wall Street Journal press releases remain one of the best ways share company news as it provides reporters accurate information, with links to supporting information, making it easier to do their jobs.

  • Business Wire Tip: If you’re looking to spice up the traditional release think about adding bullets highlighting “Just the Facts” and “Key Quotes,” which may catch the viewers’ attention. Consider adding a Click to Tweet in your sub-headline like this PRSA Austin story.  Or take it one step further like this Amazon release entirely comprised of Tweets each crafted with a different audience in mind.

These are just a few of the tips from leading journalists, but we have many more. Keep following the BusinessWired blog or contact us directly to learn more.

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