Thursday, February 23, 2012

Event Recap: Veteran Media Panel Shares Insights on Pitching Broadcast

Last week, a crowd gathered at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Center City for our sold out “Scoring Air Time with Philadelphia’s Major Broadcast Outlets” media panel.  This is always one of PPRA’s most popular events, but we were especially thrilled to have some of the biggest names in broadcast join us this year, including Christopher Blackman and Terry Ruggles (NBC 10), Jeff Kolakowski (CBS 3), Marilyn Russell (BEN-FM), Loraine Ballard Morrill (Clear Channel Radio), and Clara Rivas (WWSI Telemundo Philadelphia). 

Between bites of chocolate mousse and plenty of laughs, the audience learned key takeaways such as:
  • Ask media their preferred method of contact.  With so many ways to connect with the media, which one’s a PR pro to choose?  Simple: just ask!  Marilyn Russell is barely ever by her phone, but Loraine Ballard Morrill likes to have verbal contact. Twitter gave Jeff Kolakowski a lead for a recent interview.  And faxing?  Chris Blackman says it’s the last thing the newsroom will ever check.  Understanding how a reporter gathers content will increase your chances of catching his eye – or ear.  
  • Broadcast loves a good human interest angle.  Much of the news surrounding weather, crime, and traffic can sound the same these days. Take your pitch one step further than explaining the facts; instead, paint a picture of the story. What is a company doing to help the community during unusually heavy snow?  When a shooting takes place in the city, can your client speak to why people turn to violence rather than calmly talking out their problems?  If you can find a new way to explain what is happening with these and other trends, broadcast media will love it. 
  • Be persistent:  We’re often discouraged from following up too much with the media for fear of being labeled a pest.  But newsrooms across the board are working with skeleton staffs, and reporters are still trying to sort through hundreds of emails a day on top of their other duties.  Don’t be afraid to follow up (within reason!) when you know you have a really great story to share.  The reporter just may not have gotten far enough down his or her inbox to see your pitch.  Even Terry Ruggles revealed that the people he developed the best working relationships with had been a ‘nudge’ over the years.” 
  • It’s okay to pitch multiple people at a station: The audience was a little skeptical at first, but our panel confirmed that pitching multiple reporters at the same outlet is to your benefit.  They actually fight over the chance to cover most compelling stories in the morning news meetings!  However, this doesn’t mean you can send everyone the same email; you’ll still need to cater the pitch for each reporter’s specific beat.  Your changes will increase even more if you can tie it to a story the station recently covered.             
  • Make your name known:  We can’t say it enough – relationships are everything in our business.  That’s why our media panels are so popular.  They give you the opportunity to put a face to the name behind the phone calls and emails.  From there, you’ll want to “wow” your media contact with a great idea and smooth interview process.  If you prove that you’re on top of things, the media will associate your name with their next great story.   
For all the inside scoop, you can download a full podcast of the event here. Or, connect with the @PPRA Twitter handle and our #PitchingBroadcast hashtag for more insights.    
Our panel made the news!  Check out this clip from NBC 10:
This blog post was written by Christine Guerrini. Christine Guerrini is a member of the public relations team at Tierney agency in Center City Philadelphia. A Villanova grad, Christine specializes in media relations, social media, events, and research. She has worked with clients in a variety of fields, including consumer, non-profit, and B2B. Outside of work, Christine is an avid fan of the Arts, whether exploring museums or sitting down with a novel. Connect with Christine on Twitter (@CMGuerrini) or at

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