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Lisa Matthews
Vice President for Hager Sharp

It’s that time of year again – time for football, pumpkin-spice lattes, and more importantly, time to cozy up to the annual Washington Women in Public Relations Media Roundtable. This year’s panel features reporters and editors from some of the top news outlets in the country and I can hardly wait to moderate.

We all know that the media landscape is in a state of constant change and those in the business are running at a heightened pace. The explosion of social media and the need for more and better content has taken the jobs of some journalists into a challenging space. Reporters are not only racing to get the story first, but now they are also engaged in a fight against accusations of fake news.

For public relations pros the challenge has always been – and may always be – how to break through and engage members of the media. I think breaking through begins with the basics, like remembering that the reporters and editors you are trying to reach are people too. People with personal lives and challenges on top of business responsibilities and deadlines. People looking for that elusive work-life balance. Breaking through also requires PR pros to do their homework, which means going beyond building a media list. Reporters are tired of receiving pitches that have absolutely nothing to do with what they cover. I can relate to this from my days on the planning desk at the Associated Press. Being on the other side now, I understand how it can happen.

Just as you are called on to know and understand the target audience for your client, it’s important to know and understand the media as your very specific target audience. Are you pitching the right person? Is the story you are offering actually newsworthy? Would you want to read, watch, or listen to the story you are pitching? All questions worth asking and answering – and we will do just that on Thursday, October 26th at the WWPR Roundtable.