NOTES: How to Get the Media to Notice You – an event from SourceBottle #sblive

Tuesday night brought together about 300 small business owners and PR professionals together for the very first SourceBottle networking event, a panel discussion about ‘How to get the media to notice you’. This was very well run, and well organised by the delightful Rebecca Derrington of SourceBottle fame with help from the team from Handle Your Own PR, Creative Cats, Leonda By The Yarra, The Templar Group and The Woo.

The panel was introduced by Tom Gleisner who is also founder of the charity benefiting from the evening – Learning for Life, for children with autism. On the panel was:

Tom Fahey – Producer on The Circle, Channel 10

Tim Verrall – Breakfast Producer, MixFM

Leo D’Angelo Fisher – Senior Journalist, BRW

Janice Breen Burns – Fashion Editor, The Age

Their insights should have been nothing new for PR professionals and I was concerned there may have been too many practicing PR people learning way too much for the level of knowledge the panel was imparting. It was all 101 stuff and a refresher can’t do any harm but definitely all things a PR practitioner should already be doing.

The key thing is (and always has been) to know the media – media relations is all about relationship building with journalists: know them, know their space, know why they would want to cover your news.

So, these notes will be good for those wanting to know more about the workings of media relations:

  • Most effective way to contact media is via email – only call if it’s to radio and it’s something urgent/timely, and if you do call breakfast shows the best time is 11am
  • Pitch a story that is news – don’t just pitch your client/product and expect the journalist to come up with a story (help them help you!)
  • Make sure you know the media outlet you’re pitching to – know where your story would fit in their publication/program and identify this for the media; know how the process works for their section
  • Know media deadlines and work to these
  • Get to know the journalists – topics and issues they cover, their style of writing (do they like pics?), how they like to be pitched to, what they like … developing good relationships with the media is so important and this is one of the best ways to get them to notice you: notice them first and know what they want
  • Journalists won’t always respond: they will respond if they want the story, file the email for later reference or delete (although Leo will always respond with a thank you; Janice doesn’t think PR people expect a response anymore!)
  • Quirky media send-outs are losing appeal – if you do go down the inflatable thong path, make sure it’s relevant and adds value to the pitch
  • Get straight to the point of your pitch – bullets in the email body preferable: you don’t need to attach the release if it’s all in the body of the email
  • Really personalise your pitches and know WHO to pitch to – don’t send the same release to different people at the same media outlet without advising them
  • Write the release with media in mind, not your client – too many releases ‘blow smoke up the client’s ass’ rather than writing for what the media want to know/need to know –> give them what they need
    • what is the story? what does your client do? why should X write about it?
  • Leave out the jargon and the ‘boilerplate’ if it’s irrelevant corporate speak
  • Give as much of the story as you can (help them help you!)
  • DO NOT FOLLOW UP CALL TO SEE IF THEY GO THE RELEASE – so many PR people are obviously still doing this because there was a bit of commotion and even an audience member who asked ‘then why does our boss make us follow up call?’ (PR FAIL, right there)
  • Some journalists prefer to deal with PR people … GOOD PR people who know what they’re doing; Leo doesn’t mind giving a ‘fair hearing’ to business owners if they have the guts to call him personally; Janice wants to be put in touch with the source

Leo also brought up an interesting point – everything and anything has their own PR person. When getting clients on board you need to ask ‘why’ are they going for PR and is it really something with PR value?

One thing I’ve learned along the way working in media relations, aside from the value of good journalist relationships is the importance of good client management – they need to understand what PR is, how it works and what they can expect.

Thanks Rebecca and team!

NOTE: I had a Kimberley Fail and switched from the #sblive hashtag to #sbevent at one stage – so you may like to track them both! Thanks Fran for bringing it to my attention!

P.S. Apologies for the quality of my photography – sneaky pics from the front row not as good as I hoped they would be!

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