Ok, we get it. The media landscape is changing. So much so that the Twitter handle @themediaisdying has almost 22,000 followers and has tweeted over 3,500 updates since the account launched on November 18, 2008. While “dying” might be a bit of a dramatization, the media is without a doubt evolving – and doing so at warp speed. So why do public relations professionals continue to pitch the media as if it was circa 2002? Good question – and kudos to the Publicity Club of New York for more tactfully addressing this very question. This Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending PCNY’s luncheon panel where some of the best and brightest in digital media were solicited to help us become better PR professionals in these new, still largely uncharted waters.
The impressive panel roster included Julie Iannuzzi, Video Editor for The WSJ Digital Network; Simon Constable, Host of WSJ’s The News Hub; Peter Kafka, Senior Editor of D|All Things Digital; Jon Friedman, Media Editor at MarketWatch ; and one of my favorite markets writers and “tweeps”, Peter McKay of the Wall Street Journal and a major contributor to their MarketBeat blog.
Everyone on the panel reiterated one overarching “no brainer” that all PR professionals should know, but many of us apparently seem to forget. This PR gaffe can be effectively summarized in the following: “you are not a telemarketer, so stop acting like one.” You know those annoying calls you get during dinner from a complete stranger trying to sell you something you don’t need? It’s infuriating and intrusive, right? Well PR pros, here’s a reality check for you: that’s how your cold calls sound to reporters when you bring irrelevant, self-serving pitch ideas with no regard to their wants and needs.
Think I’m being harsh? Don’t shoot the messenger. Check out the Twitter hash tag from the luncheon: #PCNY. One of the most popular tweets was: “All wsj journos on panel are saying PR people should never call… Interrupts when on deadline.”
So faux pas aside, how can you make your pitch more effective when you are reaching out to online multimedia outlets, such as The WSJ Digital Network? The answer is surprisingly simple: Use new multimedia elements in your pitch to get your story noticed.
- VIDEO: If you are pitching online video outlets, include a video to communicate your story idea. Tip for pitching WSJ video: Craft your pitch to complement existing WSJ content, because they rarely create new stories from pitches.
- TWITTER: Engage with journalists on Twitter first. Introduce yourself, build a rapport, be helpful to their needs, and THEN pitch your idea.
- COMMENT: Become a frequent commentator on their stories and blogs – but do so only when you have something meaningful to contribute. “I agree” comments are dull and ineffective – perhaps even self-defeating.
WSJ video editor Julie Iannuzzi urges both journalists and PR professionals to “think video” – not just as an afterthought, but as an integral component of the story development process. By nature, journalists and PR folks are words people. We love words. But when can video bring something to the story – or pitch – that the written word cannot? It’s becoming increasingly important for journalists and PR pros to become visual people, too.
As Jon Friedman so simply and eloquently stated, “the best PR professionals think like journalists.” As journalists now consider video at the beginning of story development, so should smart PR professionals.
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