Media Relations

  • The Five Mistakes You Are Making When Pitching TV by Joe Chambers, Emmy-nominated journalist

    In Media Relations on

    The local channels in Boston put together a total of 62.5 hours of news every weekday. Each station is averaging 35 stories per hour. That means on any given day you have 2,187 opportunities to get your client coverage that can be seen in millions of households in the Boston area. So why aren’t you? Chances are that you are making some of these big mistakes.

    1. You are wasting my time
    This is the cardinal sin of pitching television news. As a producer, I receive around 400 emails every day. Reporters are in the same boat and the assignment desk gets even more. 90 percent of them get deleted without ever being opened. Headlines like “Great event this weekend”, or worse “Interview Opportunity” get deleted immediately. When crafting your pitch, you need to think like a journalist. You have six seconds to win my attention and make me stick around for another paragraph. Within the first line I should know why my audience will care about this story. Once you have established that, you can fill in the where and when of the story.

    2. You aren’t pitching the right person (at the right time)
    You need to know what your story is worth. Generally, there are two types of stories that you will pitch.
    VO (Voice-overs): These are the vast majority of stories your client will want you to pitch. They are quick, 20 second scripts that make up the bulk of a newscast. Charity functions, races, product launches, the latest and greatest study from your health care team are all likely voice-overs. Don’t bother a reporter with a VO, they will ignore it. Email a producer and pass along the information to the assignment desk. Be very brief. No one is going to read your release if it’s longer than a page (or even half a page). Also, timing is important. Packages are assigned at the start of the shift.

    The producer generally spends the next two to three hours finding stories to fill the rest of the newscast. If you want to save the day, email (OR CALL) the desk and the producers with your pitch while the producers are stacking the show. For the 4/5/6pm that generally happens before noon. If you have an event happening at night, email before 4. If you want to crack the elusive morning show, stay up late and call at midnight. They don’t want to be awake at that hour any more than you do but a morning show needs fresh content more than any other time slot. NEVER call between 5-7 AM, 4-7 PM, or 9-11 PM. They are busy and will likely hang up on you if you ask “will you be covering our event today?”

    Packages: If it isn’t a VO, it is a package. Reporters, producers and the assignment desk all pitch stories for packages in the assignment meeting. Get to know people’s names and emails. Keep a list and update it at least every six months. If you think you have a great emotional story then reach out directly to a reporter. Email or call their cell. Promise exclusivity (everyone wants to be only on) and do it at the right time. Most journalist spend the 30 minutes before the assignment meeting searching every source they have for a decent story. You can be a hero by sending the perfect story just in time. The morning meeting (for the noon/4/5/6 PM shows) is usually at 9 AM. The afternoon meeting for the late shows is between 2-3 PM depending on the stations. Don’t be afraid to ask the desk when those meetings take place. On that note, the assignment desk is one of the hardest working group of people. Be nice to them because they are usually the key to getting a reporter or photog at your event.

    3. You are accepting defeat
    How many times have you had stations confirm they were coming to an event only to back out at the last second? News happens and generally you are pretty low on our priority list, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to cover the story. We just simply don’t have the bodies. So, take some initiative. If no one shows up to your event, take some pictures, write up a brief synapsis and email it to the station (you should also have a one-page synapsis printed out and ready for every photog and reporter that shows up). If you can get me a picture or video, I am far more likely to run your story even if it is just a quick mention.

    4. You aren’t thinking like a journalist
    The bulk of pitches I receive describe the event/study/product, but they never really focus on why I should care. News judgement is driven by the question “Why should the audience care about this?” Answer that question immediately in your pitch. A charity walk is not the Xth annual “run to remember this person” or “cure this disease”. It is a gathering of survivors ready to share their story and motivate others to take action. When developing your pitch think about what the audience will care about. What will make someone sit on their couch for another five minutes without going to bed or heading to work? Once you have come up with the pitch, think about what elements you can offer the reporter or producers that will play well on TV. That could be emotional audio or great video. If your client has created some incredible life changing medicine but you can’t provide a compelling patient, your great package just became a 20 second VO.

    I recently received a pitch from a PR firm. They wanted to bring someone on for an interview. The pitch was that the person would discuss all the ways that Boston is falling short when it comes to attracting major events. They weren’t thinking like a journalist. I am not going to bring someone on to tell the people of Boston all the ways that their city is failing and doesn’t measure up to other places. Frankly, your client is going to look like an arrogant jerk. This type of story may play on the radio or newspaper, but it isn’t going to work on TV (Print/Radio/TV pitches should be different). You are far too limited by time and format to make that story work in your client’s best interest.

    5. You aren’t thinking about what you want from the coverage
    Before you ever come up with a pitch you should have a clear understanding of what your clients wants out of the coverage. Are you looking to build awareness for your client, or call people to action? Who is the target audience? The coverage you receive often depends on the pitch you put together. Sending an email about an event the day it occurs might get you a VO recapping the event but won’t help you boost actual attendance. If you pitch one thing, but have expectations of completely different coverage, I am going to ignore you next time.

    So, to wrap it all up. Keep it short. Pitch the right people, in the right way, at the right time. When you do pitch a TV station, know why you are doing it and what you can offer the station. These are straightforward ways to get your clients the coverage that they probably deserve.

    Joe Chambers is an Emmy-nominated journalist with more than 10 years of experience working in television newsrooms across the country. He currently lives and works in Boston

  • Pirozzolo Company Public Relations hits a media placement coup

    In Media Relations, PRSA Member Feed on

    When Dick Pirozzolo, APR, recently worked with Bob Salsberg, AP Boston correspondent, to arrange interviews with Governor Dukakis, and other policy thinkers on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in government, the story resonated with newspapers around the country, including The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.

    Pirozzolo credits long-term relationships with journalists and having a timely issue for the media interest, something PRSA advocates when it comes to generating earned media.

    The Pirozzolo Company client involved was Boston Global Forum, cofounded by Gov. Michael Dukakis and Vietnam media mogul Tuan Nguyen as a think tank focused on peaceful solutions to international conflicts such as: China’s contentious presence in the South China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear talks, and state-sponsored cyberthreats. Boston Global Forum publishes several newsletters and is always on the lookout for relevant articles and news with a foreign relations angle. Much of the content focuses on Asia.

    Here four of the newspapers that covered the emerging role of Artificial Intelligence in government.

    The Boston Globe

    The New York Times

    The Washington Post

    The Chicago Tribune 

    For more on how to successfully pitch The Boston Globe from the PRSA Boston meeting with the editors visit: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/globe-goes-all-digital-news-pr-still-relationship-dick-pirozzolo-apr/

     

     

  • As The Globe Goes Digital, News And PR Still Rely on Personal Relationships by Dick Pirozzolo, APR

    In Career, IPN, Media Relations on

    Larry Edelman, The Boston Globe deputy managing editor, told independent PR agency heads that, while declining print subscriptions portend an all-digital newspaper, building good old-fashioned relationships still counts when it comes to news coverage in New England’s biggest newspaper.

    At a recent meeting organized by the Boston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Edelman told some 30 small PR agency owners, “We have 95,000 paid digital subscribers, the highest among regional papers,” which is fast approaching half the total subscribers as “print subscriptions slowly decline.”

    With classified advertising for autos, employment and real estate no longer able to support the operation, The Globe has had to increase the cost to the readers for providing them with information. “When we’re charging a lot for the product it really has to be good, and when readers log on they want to get the highest-quality journalism. The paper has to be sold on the merits of quality,” Edelman added.

    Given changes in the way people access information, especially international and national news, The Globe has reduced its commitment to staffing bureaus in Washington, DC and overseas. “Our motto is to provide journalism you can’t get anywhere but The Globe.” For media relations pros, that means offering its reporters exclusive, newsworthy information about local businesses and organizations and their impact on the community.

    At the meeting, run by public relations consultants Hank Shafran, Edelman emphasized, “It comes down to building individual relationships” for both PR pros and reporters as well. “Even though information is available online, reporters still have to get out of the office to cover stories in person and PR folks have to build relationships with reporters. News is a relationship business – a good batting average though is worse than a major league baseball player,” in terms of successful placements.

    Edelman urged PR professionals to look beyond your own client for broader stories with greater impact. He pointed out, “A hotel company that was building properties in the outlaying parts of the city such as Allston and Brighten pitched a story about the business.” Rather than publishing a story about this one company, “The Globe did it as a trend piece, which made it a stronger and more interesting article.” Everybody won.

    When asked about whom to contact, he recommended sending email pitches directly to reporters since they know more about the topic and editors have too many additional responsibilities to focus on content, though alerting both the reporters and their editors is acceptable.

    Joshua Milne, who focuses on sports promotions and media relations, asked whether editorial visits during which company executives visit the editorial staff in the newsroom to provide background information, with no expectation of coverage are still viable.

    Both Edelman and Hiawatha Bray, who has been covering technology for the Globe since 1995, encouraged the visits, especially when the executives are willing to come to the newsroom. Bray joked, “I just met with a company and they were all from MIT, so I figured it must be important.”

    Veteran business reporter Jon Chesto is known for taking a lot of editorial meetings. “He meets more people in a day than I meet in a month,” quipped Edelman. Notwithstanding, when publicists pitch stories they need to know the topic. Bray said, “It’s disrespectful to call a reporter and not know what your product is or what it does and then fill the void by using terms like ‘best-in-breed’ or ‘disruptive technology.’”

    Bray chided PR people who call at 5 o’clock to pitch stories, and for trying to be creative, “Don’t write a story like ‘Once upon a time,’ just the facts please.”

    Other changes at The Globe include The Express Desk, which was started last year and is staffed with 25 reporters and editors to deliver breaking news – “immediate news drives a lot of subscriptions,” Edelman said adding that Express Desk tracks readership and revises headlines if an interesting story isn’t drawing readership.

    In addition to the Spotlight Team, the famous investigative reporting unit featured in the eponymous Oscar winning movie about sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Edelman, noted, “We created a subset of the Spotlight Team that, instead of spending months on a story is poised for quick investigations that might take only a week or two. One of its latest accomplishments was an investigative report on a recent Massachusetts State Police scandal over no-show traffic details.

    Despite the modern newsroom in the heart of the financial district, the absence of the monster Web press, and a hugely successful formula for a digital newspaper of the future, Edelman said some things in Boston remain constant: “Who’s driving the most subscriptions? It’s still sports.”

    Dick Pirozzolo, APR of Pirozzolo Company Public Relations is a Boston communication consultant whose credentials as a professional journalist include membership in The Society of Professional Journalists, The Foreign Press Association of New York and the National Press Club of Washington, DC.

  • Boston Globe’s Larry Edelman Looks To Digital Future with IPN

    In IPN, Media Relations on
    Larry EdelmanThe Boston Globe business editor, offered his take on how one of the nation’s top newspapers—the biggest in New England— is meeting the challenges of new information technology and a rapidly shifting readership.

    Edelman told the dozen-plus Boston Public Relations Society of America members assembled in The Tom Winship Room, just off the newsroom, “The Globe is tailored to be an online news operation that also happens to print a newspaper,” except now the overhead and salaries have to come from subscriptions rather than advertising. “When subscriptions pay my salary, we have to give readers something they are willing to pay for.”

    The Globe’s online paid circulation is over 70,000, the highest among any regional newspaper in the US and, between BostonGlobe.com and its free regional website Boston.com, the paper garners a million unique hits a day.
    The Globe has to stand out Edelman said, “We don’t want to be in the commodity news business. We want to cover ideas, not companies with obligatory news stories simply because they are big and old.”
    Edelman told the group he believes the Boston economy is well positioned with a diverse range of forward- looking industries such as biotechnology,real estate development, medicine and education. “We’re in a bubble but it’s a lucky bubble.”
    The emphasis is also on covering those industries from the perspective of how they impact the lives of people in the region. Explained Edelman, “We are at the intersection of people who create and the money,” adding that Trump’s “preposterous 20-percent cut to NIH [the National Institute for Health] would be disastrous to this area.”
    Given the importance of medicine and biotechnology regionally, The Globe last year launched STAT a premium subscription service offering exclusive reporting about the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as well as newsletters, invitations to events, early access to special reports, and other reader benefits.
    The Globe is evaluating its news beats to reflect shifting interests as well. “The business of food is an increasingly popular topic that pulls in new readers and is getting more attention editorially.”
    Deadlines have changed too. “Our readership swells between 6 AM and 1-2 PM so our best stories have to be up in the morning—when our readers are online. Filing new stories at 4-5 PM in the afternoon should be for the next day’s edition.”
    The editorial staff is about half of what it once was during the heyday of print, The Globe is moving to smaller quarters in downtown Boston with the printing plant located in Taunton and run as a separate business. It prints the competing Boston Herald and other publications. The Globe’s emphasis on great journalism and its institutions will continue. Notably The Spotlight Team, which was awarded an Oscar for the motion picture “Spotlight” will remain firmly in place.
    Though The Globe, and other newspapers are moving inexorably to publishing exclusively online, we’ll probably still be calling them newspapers for many years to come.
    No matter. We still dial the phone.
    By Dick Pirozzolo
    dick logo
    About IPN

    A Special Interest Section founded in Boston, the Independent Practitioners Network was formed as a collaborative of seasoned PR professionals operating as consultants or as small firms in and around eastern Massachusetts. We facilitate partnerships to win or service business; share best practices across our many specialization areas; provide each other with client service or practice management support; and foster community and collaborations among the independent PR people who belong to PRSA Boston. @PRSABoston #PRSABos

  • Fast 5: Q&A with TN Communications Group President Tom Nutile

    In Media Relations, Thought Leaders, Writing on

    One of the most important skills that a PR professional needs to develop is the ability to draft a targeted media pitch that captures the attention of a reporter, producer, blogger, etc. within three seconds. There are so many ways that you can connect with the media today – whether it’s by email, press release, Twitter, Facebook or even the old fashion way—the phone.

    We recently sat down with TN Communications Group’s President Tom Nutile to learn more about his career as both an editor and media professional and some of his tips on how to pitch the media.

    Tom Nutile says media pitching isn't like it used to be.

    “PR people [should] take a much more active role in managing the conversation” because of social media. – Tom Nutile, TN Communications Group.

    Q: What’s it like working both sides of the fence—as editor and publicist?

    It’s a huge advantage. As a working journalist I received pitches all day long—and I got to see what worked, and what didn’t. Now in my PR business, I know how to craft a media pitch, a press release, a video, that’s likely to resonate with the media and gain coverage.

    Q: How has social media changed the way PR pros pitch the media?

    Social media has opened up more channels to reach journalists and target audiences and markets. It’s a much more complex environment to work in. The news cycle is 24/7, with updates on a breaking story sometimes coming every few seconds. The conversation—the stories—can build quickly and take on a life of their own. The feedback can be instantaneous, and because of it social media is making PR people take a much more active role in managing the conversation. But I ask, who better to own that than PR people?

    Q: Do the media still matter when PR people can publish what they want?

    Absolutely yes. There is still a valuable role for the media today. There’s a reason that coverage in the media—from professional journalists—is called “earned media.” You have to earn it—you can’t buy it or just write it yourself. Coverage in the media—third party endorsements, if you will—has immense value. Study after study show that people truly value and look for gatekeepers who can judge the news and package it in a way that’s relevant to them. As long as people want that independent editorial voice, you will have the media, and as long as you have the media, you will need PR people to manage media relationships and craft meaningful messages—and pitches.

    Q: Pitching the media is as old as PR. Is there anything truly new to say about it?

    Understandably storytelling is at the heart of what we do, and that hasn’t changed.

    There are always new ways to pitch, and journalists have changed. They want things faster, and they don’t want to have to work as hard to develop a story, so background info, whether it’s a graphic or data, is very important. They want short, tight, to-the-point pitches. And they want them in different, newer formats. Remember that journalists—and consumers—can reject your content in a flash—or they can take it viral just as quickly. Another fast-moving target is the truth. A falsehood or misconception can move quickly and derail your message before you know it. Pitching the media in this environment requires good storytelling with lightning quick reflexes, plus contingency plans for that fire you just didn’t anticipate.

    Q: Do we need more and better tools than we used to in pitching the media or reaching your ultimate audience, whether it is the general public or an industry?

    We need tools that work, that are up-to-date, and that resonate with the media we pitch and, ultimately, the audience we want to reach. That can mean a great OpEd piece for an online publication with high readership, it can be a tremendous Facebook post or tweet that goes viral. It can be a 90-second video, a case study or tight, bright website content. I spent half my career as a print journalist, and now the vast majority of my writing ends up online. There are ways to write effectively for each of these vehicles. What works for a tweet doesn’t necessarily work for an email pitch to a journalist, for example. I’ll share some of the secrets of how to write effectively for each these vehicles and more at “Crafting the Perfect Pitch,” the PRSA Boston writing seminar at ML Strategies on September 29. (Register here.)

    About Tom Nutile

    Tom is President of TN Communications Group, a boutique PR firm specializing writing, editing and media relations. A former journalist with the Boston Herald, St. Petersburg Times and Gannett, winner of three national Bulldog Awards for media relations, and a former VP of PR at Staples, Tom has more than 20 years of experience helping clients gain national and international exposure through print, broadcast and digital media placements. He can be reached at 508-397-2810 or tom@tncommgroup.com.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • 72Point

    Fast5: Q&A with 72Point.US’s Vice President of Strategy & Client Services Mindy Gibson

    In Media Relations, Social Media, Writing on

    Bill Gates was right. Content is king.

    It’s been 20 years since Bill Gates published his infamous “Content is King” essay on Microsoft’s website, accurately predicting “…content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” Today, content marketing firms like 72Point are engaging audiences, inspiring earned media and creating points of entry to businesses everywhere.

    We recently caught up with 72Point’s Vice President of Strategy & Client Services Mindy Gibson and asked her about the process of creating content and feeding the media beast.

    Why should infographics be a part of my strategy?

    It’s actually not about whether infographics should exclusively or specifically be included in your strategy. It’s about the broader category of visual assets – and the “why” is digital media demand. Each visual type – infographic, video, animation or interactive -contributes to digital news outlets’ success metrics, such as dwell time. Some outlets require stories be accompanied by videos because they enable pre-roll ad insertion.

    Visual assets help sell the content story of the story too, as it tells the story from multiple angles and can determine which outlets you’re pitching, and what your budget can support. We advise all our clients that integrating visuals increases the likelihood their story will get picked up, and the absence of visuals decreases their chances.

    How can a PR poll be used to increase brand awareness?

    A PR survey is first and foremost about news generation, with earned media as its primary goal. A survey-supported news story is therefore no different in its role increasing brand awareness than any other type of earned media initiative. The better the concept behind the story, the more media earned. Surveys have the advantage of being conversation starters. The more talk-ability, the more “legs” the story will have with other media outlets and, so importantly, as part of the social conversation.

     

    Are PR surveys only for earned media news generation or do they have paid media applications?

    While PR surveys have been traditionally used for earned media coverage, the basic principles can certainly be applied to creating paid media content.  The results of a compelling survey with reference to brand but not banging readers over the head with brand help branded content and other paid advertising feel less “branded” which is a good thing. One thing we’ve learned with the growth of paid media is that consumers do not want to be “sold to”.  They want to be informed, entertained and engaged but not sold. This is particularly true for younger consumers. Research is informative, and if done well, the results can be entertaining and engaging. We see our clients reaching to us more often for content to support paid media initiatives, and can track social media shares resulting directly from the story and assets and provide that information in our post-project coverage books but we don’t dissect it nor do we track the social media initiatives our clients control using the same content.

    Is email still relevant in the age of social media?

    At the risk of giving my age away, I am not a millennial and so grew up in business before social media had business applications and long before it had any life application at all.  Without intended reference to any current political story, in a business setting, email is absolutely relevant. Email is how I communicate regularly with colleagues and clients of ALL ages and generations. It is still the most efficient, effective and private method of business communication – if anything is actually really private. I do not foresee myself IM’ing business communications. That said, the use of email for social communication is already irrelevant to younger adults and future business applications of email may not be far behind – whether I like it or not.

    Mindy Gibson is a Boston University grad, and a strategic and creative media executive with domestic, multicultural and global content and communications experience in charge of strategy and client relations at 72Point.US.

    About Fast5:

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in
    demand, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as… winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands, and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos.

    Do YOU have a candidate for a Fast5 Interview? Email Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization.