Five Tips for Better Serving Journalists and Media 

Media Pros (L-R) Alison Gary, Dave Boyer, Joanne Bamberger,
Marcus J.Moore, Robert J. Terry

At PR News' Nov. 30 Media Relations Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., a no-holds-barred exchange of ideas, experiences and war stories among top journalists was shared. A common theme was that, for starters, journalists are short on time, and PR pros are short on space to make their pitches stand out. There were, however, some areas where the journalists said PR pros can better serve their needs in terms of providing content and managing their relationships.

Here are 5 ways to better serve journalists to up your odds for coverage:

  1. Provide imagery and videos: Alison Gary, blogger, social media manager and editor-in-chief of Wardrobe Oxygen, said that in the land of Pinterest, images are incredibly important, and that she doesn't don't write anything without an image or a video in it anymore. However, not just any tiny thumbnail image will do. "The quality of the images needs to be great and they must be able to fit into the blog template comfortably," Gary said.

    "Videos are becoming bigger and bigger, and videos are quick content that we can post, so they're always well received by us." What size should the file be? The bigger the better—both for photos and videos. It's easer to make things smaller than make them larger, Gary said.

  2. Know which other content forms media crave: Marcus J. Moore, music critic/journalist, BBC, MTV Hive, Washington City Paper, Drowned in Sound, said that in the music industry the embed code is everything for audio files. "People don't even read what I write always, but they will listen to a song on the page. The embed code is pretty much the first thing we need when posting content," Moore said.

  3. Populate your press center with what media would want: Robert J. Terry, managing editor, Washington Business Journal, said that he's amazed how many websites that are supposedly built for the press don't have access to a CEO's headshot. "If you don't have an image or video experience for the story, not only is the user experience not as good, you're leaving page views on the table," Terry said. "In my world, however, there does still need to be a news hook with value for my readers, even if you do have a great photo or story." 

  4. Don't botch their names in pitches: "Know who I am—don't call me 'dear blogger,'" Gary said. "Start with why you're contacting me—when you show that you've taken that time, I'll take the time as well." 

  5. The best way to gain a journalist's trust is help serve their needs. "Know my publication, and know my publication's audience," Terry said. "A B2B publication is a lot different than the business section in the Washington Post. It's incumbent on you, the PR professional, to know that we're a hyper-focused B2B publication."

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg


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  • JTM

    Don’t shelter company CEOs and presidents from spontaneous phone calls from editors. GIVE OUT THOSE NUMBERS. Don’t ask to see articles or quotes prior to publication. Don’t hand-hold during phone interviews. Let no question be out-of-bounds.

  • mark grimm

    Be prepared to answer this question, “What’s in it for them?” If you are at all fuzzy about the answer, your pitch needs improvement.

  • Jane Davidson

    Great advice. I don’t agree with the first commenter, who says that phone numbers of CEOs should be given out. Corporate media relations people have proven invaluable to me, especially on a “first contact” basis. They can cut through the busyness of a CEO’s day and get their attention. Also a few minutes of “think time” has never failed to improve the chances of getting a better, more succinct quote for a story. Catching some one “cold” doesn’t always serve the media well. Of course, in a crisis situation, I advise just the opposite.

  • Rebecca Adjei

    Idon’t agree totally with the commenters because it is not advisable to give a CEO’s number to everybody because I guess every CEO have a SECRETARYor PERSONAL ASSISTANT who knows his or her itinery and a such, appoinments could be book for others who would want to have a word with the CEO. Sometimes people call and is all waste of time because sincerely speaking they actually have nothing to really talk about and I am not rulling out spontaneous calls but it is also advisable and good that we put checks in place to make our work more professional.