Monday, November 5, 2012

Meet the media

Bill Hudson, Stephanie March and Thomas Lee share media relations tips.
At an Oct. 31 Minnesota Public Relations Society of America breakfast event, attendees learned a few tricks about connecting with the media while enjoying treats.

Moderator Dr. Michael Porter of the University of St. Thomas started out the panel discussion with an appropriate Halloween question, "What is the worst PR nightmare pitch that you have received?"

While Bill Hudson of WCCO-TV and Stephanie March of Mpls. St. Paul Magazine refused to comment, Thomas Lee of the Star Tribune shared his interesting story.

"My worst public relations nightmare was getting a pitch from a company promoting a product called Flatulence-D, with deals with farting after gastric bypass surgery," said Lee. "The person really had no clue what I wrote about."

Among the tips offered by Hudson, March and Lee were:
  • Don't pitch more than one reporter at the same media outlet.
  • Read the reporter's stories and what they have written about before pitching.
  • Think in terms of both visuals and sound when pitching TV reporters.
  • Learn the reporter's preferences in terms of connecting via e-mail or phone call.
The panelists agreed that media relations is about relationships.

"The best time to get in touch with a reporter is when you have nothing to pitch," said Lee. "You're in it for the long haul." In the video above, Lee talks about how he uses ProfNet to find sources.

One attendee asked a question about connecting with reporters via social media. That turned out to be an individualized response. Lee primarily uses Twitter to find out about stories, while March is open to being pitched via Twitter. Hudson, however, isn't even on Twitter, so phone and e-mail are best for him.

How can public relations people stand out from the clutter? Attendees learned one trick:  send a handwritten note. It will get read.
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