This week, we joined a virtual Meet the Media session. These quarterly discussions give reporters from around Indianapolis a chance to share how they want to hear from public relations firms. We call it pitching (or providing information for a news story). It’s a good opportunity to listen to what reporters need and how to work with them.
Reputation is everything
A television reporter said when someone delivers the first time, they become a go-to source. This means if your public relations firm representatives make recommendations, listen to their counsel and follow their instructions. Reporters are now relying on public relations professionals to provide the story angle, details, photos and/or video. If you’ve got an interview set up, your public relations rep should have a pre-call to let you know what to expect and talk you through questions to be ready.
Connections make the job easier
Public relations professionals work regularly with reporters. That means we often have a direct way to contact a reporter. And if we have the reputation (as noted above) that means our conversations move forward pretty quickly to confirm a story and get the client the interview.
Have information/facts ready
Having a story idea isn’t enough. Be ready with the details. Reporters want the facts to go with the trends and statements. The information should be well researched ahead of the pitch. Sources should be secured and know they could be called on, ahead of the pitch.
Present information correctly
Often you may write in a particular style, so reading something that looks different calls it into question. Clients naturally want to edit their public relations reps’ words. Bottom line, reporters write in Associated Press style. They expect to receive information in AP Style and written as a news release. In a meet the media session we hosted a few weeks ago, reporters specifically discussed this as a pet peeve. One said, if I don’t receive information in AP Style, there’s no credibility (see number one above). A good public relations professional knows what a reporter wants. Listen to and accept their counsel to ensure your company’s credibility.
Know what the reporter reports
Most publications and news outlets have reporters that focus on “beats.” Examples are health, technology, business, geographic areas and so on. Because you met a reporter at a local function doesn’t mean they’re the right person to tell the story. Research a reporter’s beat. Watch/read their stories to understand how they report, what they report and the tone of their stories. It’s ok to contact that reporter you met. Just let them know you know they’re not the right person and ask for help to find the right reporter.
The live shot is dead
Zoom is now the newsroom, camera crew, mic etc. Be ready for the virtual interview. And yes, we all hope that’s revisited in the next 12 months.