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The following is an article that was written by Erika Murray, Immediate Past-President of PRSA-MD (2008-2009), that appeared in the July 26 edition of our eNewsletter, WebNotes.

If you missed our “Media Shakedown” program on July 15, then you missed valuable face-to-face networking time with some of the area’s top journalists and reporters. PRSA-MD was honored to host a diverse media panel, which included:

  • Gary Haber, reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal;
  • Kai Jackson, television news anchor and reporter for WJZ News;
  • Len Lazarick, editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com;
  • Julie Scharper, reporter for The Baltimore Sun; and
  • Ryan Sharrow, web editor for the Baltimore Business Journal.

The panel confirmed that a lot of tried and true public relations tactics and strategies should still be used today, such as researching a reporter and reading his or her articles before you pitch and not promising an exclusive when it isn’t. Deadlines are still king, no matter the media. And every person on the panel remarked that they do indeed pick up the phone and appreciated it when PR folks took the time to call.

Top three take-aways:

  1. The Perfect Pitch:  Julie Scharper shared that when she was recently pitched a story, she agreed to meet the PR professional in person to get additional information. Well that PR professional not only showed up with his/her source, but also brought additional sources with collaborative information. A tour was arranged so Julie could experience the information first hand and this opportunity led to the presence of a Baltimore Sun photographer, which allowed for art work to accompany her article. This PR pro gave the reporter everything she needed to file a compelling story with little effort. The perfect case study on how to perfectly pitch!
  2. Face-to-Face:  We all know busy executives. They can barely make time for their own PR representatives, much less an outside reporter, but as Gary Haber commented, “coming to the office to conduct an interview is much nicer and can lead to extended discussions, provided both parties have the time.” In an office setting, a reporter is able to see recent awards, possible degrees and photos of favorite vacation destinations. This gives the reporter insight into the person vs. the job that the person holds.  So yes, a reporter can get his/her questions answered via a phone interview, which tends to be the norm nowadays, but by visiting the person in the office all parties can get so much – a chance to build rapport.
  3. Know Your Angles:  The timeline and media diversity of last week’s panel was very interesting. We featured two print publications – one daily and one weekly, along with a television station and online publication. Each of these vehicles has different news cycles, deadlines and criteria. Therefore, fully flush out all the angles of your story before you pitch. Some angles may be evergreen and will be picked up by a news outlet at another time. Case in point: WJZ News recently covered the tragic recovery of a sewage worker who had fallen into a trench. The next day, Kai Jackson did a story on the firemen, who specialize in those types of rescues. It’s important to peel back the layers of your pitch to discover the various media angles and opportunities.

If you were unable to attend “The New Media Shakedown,” hopefully these take-aways and tidbits are helpful. As always, it is better getting the information first hand! Thank you to all of our media panel participants and attendees for making the “Media Shakedown” a success.

If you were able to attend, what did you think of the program? If you were unable to attend, what are your thoughts, comments, or tips on how the media and PR pros can work together in today’s environement of new tools?    Happy Pitching!

–Industry News