Here’s some advice for PR pros from two national reporters

I attended a “Meet the Media” event today that I helped organize on behalf of the Portland Metro chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. The two speakers were Portland-based reporters from national news media outlets: John Maxfield from the Motley Fool and Tim Dickinson from Rolling Stone magazine.

I want to share some of the advice these two writers gave to the attendees at the event, all of whom work in external and/or internal communications. Here’s what John and Tim said:

1) John’s three favorite qualities in a PR professional are: a) Understanding the importance of cultivating relationships; b) Treating him like a PR pro wants to be treated (i.e. respond to all of his emails, just like you expect him to respond to yours); and c) Regarding the news media as a partner and not as an adversary.

2) John suggested to start forming a connection with a reporter through Twitter before you ever pitch that person.

3) The stronger personal relationship you build with the reporter, the higher probability you’ll have of placing a story, said John.

4) The age of “shotgun” PR is over, Tim said. Professionals need to be laser sharp (like a sniper) when selecting which reporters to pitch a story. He suggests looking at other stories that news outlet has reported and also what beats a specific reporter covers before making your pitch. For instance, although he writes for a music-oriented publication, Tim does not cover music and doesn’t want to hear your pitch about your band.

5) Get to the point quickly in your email pitch or news release. You’ve got 80 words to capture his attention, said Tim, before he decides if he will continue reading what you have sent him. “There’s so much information that we’re all drinking from the fire hose,” he said. (I touched upon this subject in an earlier blog post. Click here to read.)



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