By Whitney Cowit and Courtney Saltzman, Business Wire Chicago
On Wednesday, April 22, Business Wire Chicago held its first Media Roundtable and Speed Networking event featuring journalists and editors from across the print, TV and radio industry. Organized in 15-minute Q&A sessions, attendees met with reporters to discuss topics such as their role in the news cycle, how they find content and what information is most valuable to them.
Media participants included some of the biggest outlets in the industry, with contributions from:
- Kathy Chaney (@kathychaney), reporter, WBEZ 91.5
- Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz (@alexiaer), reporter, Chicago Tribune
- Natalie Perez(@NatalieUni), reporter, Univision
- Carrie Walker (@LadyCarrie), assignment editor, ABC 7 Chicago
- Mary Wisniewski (@marywizreuters), reporter, Thomson Reuters
The Business Wire Chicago team had an opportunity to participate in the sessions and share back key learnings. Below is a sampling of what they heard.
What is the best form of outreach for pitching stories?
- Carrie Walker of ABC Chicago 7 is open to texts, calls or emails. If it’s breaking news, she wants to know about it. Additionally, she indicates that you can pitch news anchors directly. They often have influence over the stories they broadcast.
- Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz of the Chicago Tribune recommends email. She mentions if you don’t hear back, follow up with a phone call and eventually she will get back to you.
- Kathy Chaney of WBEZ 91.5 states she prefers email for pitches or via social media channels. Please don’t fax!
- Mary Wisniewski with Thomson Reuters says no phone calls, as emails are always preferred.
- Natalie Perez with Univision requests that you contact her assignment desk directly via email or phone. They also have their own social channels for outreach.
What are some of the best ways to develop relationships with media?
- Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) says no gifts. She would rather have an in-person meeting over coffee or lunch so she can hear your story idea and ask questions.
- Walker (ABC Chicago 7) emphasizes that developing strong relationships with media is key. In her words, everyone has a job to do and if a PR person can deliver quality content he/she will make a good impression.
What information should PR communicators include in their subject line?
- Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) says including the word “Exclusive” always helps. Additionally, make sure stories are relevant to the reporter’s beat. Further, if you were referred to her via another media point, include this in the subject line.
- Walker (ABC Chicago 7) recommends including the words “Current” or “Today” as a way for her to denote pressing news from tomorrow’s stories.
- Wisniewski (Thomson Reuters) prefers content that relates to national trends, top stories and legislation ‘hot topics.’ Be sure to include these keywords in the subject line of your email pitch.
- Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) suggests you never be vague in a subject line. The more detail you can provide the more inclined she’ll be to open your pitch.
What information should PR communicators include in their email pitches?
- Walker (ABC Chicago 7) loves to see multimedia accompanying a pitch since it shapes the story. She also looks for expert sources that are relevant to her beat and the stories she is covering. Finally, she suggests always leaving out one important detail. It will give her a reason to call.
- When pitching an expert source, Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) recommends including other places your source has been quoted or recent appearances within broadcast coverage. Additionally, she suggests you include unique angles to stories that may have previously been thought of as commonplace.
- Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) recommends being as straight-forward and concise in your emails as possible. Avoiding irrelevant details helps her quickly assess the news angle to see if it’s relevant to her publication.
- Perez (Univision) prefers storylines that offer a human element and appeal to emotions.
What details should PR communicators avoid in their email pitches?
- Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) does not believe surveys are a good source of information. Pitches that include these are typically ignored.
- Walker (ABC Chicago 7) asks that PR people do not send b-roll footage or videos as ABC 7 Chicago will usually obtain their own for broadcasting. Additionally, satellite media tours no longer provide useful content for their coverage.
- Wisniewski (Thomson Reuters) says not to include any attachments with your pitch. She also suggests avoiding repeat pitching and redundant emails since she will follow up on stories she’s interested in covering.
How do media measure the success of their stories?
- Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) utilizes social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Sound Cloud for metrics.
- Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) relies on headline clicks as a form of measurement.
- Walker (ABC Chicago 7) receives daily reporting on her ratings.
Where do media find most of their story ideas and leads?
- Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) states that press releases are her number one source for news and information. In addition, she utilizes the AP Daybook each day, but often finds the need for supplemental information as the Daybook does not offer a complete overview. She also believes that journalists cannot do their job unless they are on social media.
- Similarly, Perez (Univision) uses press releases as her primary source of information. She states that press releases that include multimedia (photos, videos, images) are a bonus. As a secondary resource, she often utilizes social media, Facebook in particular, to find exclusive stories.
- Wisniewski (Thomson Reuters) utilizes social media as a source for news since it’s the quickest and most up-to-date resource available.
What else do PR professionals need to know?
- According to Walker (ABC Chicago 7), in-studio guest appearances need to be booked at least 4 weeks in advance. Weekends are often a good opportunity for “feel good” stories. When pitching this type of content, keep that in mind. She also enjoys great visuals and finding a unique approach to each story. For example, rather than merely covering a large event, Walker often follows an individual attending the event (or one affected by the cause) to gain an inside perspective and depict how the outcome of this event will impact this individual’s life moving forward.
- Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) says that journalists want PR professionals who will advance their story and give them something that you haven’t given to other media outlets. Media are always hungry for an exclusive.
- All of our media guests stated that whether or not news is relevant to their beat, they will often pass it along and share with colleagues to whom it would be relevant.
Click here to share these media relations tips across Twitter: http://ctt.ec/78b1u
Stay up to date with the latest news and trends impacting today’s communications programming. Join our mailing list today!