“Journalists and PR professionals share the common goal of providing information,” explained Judy Lubin of Public Square Communications and a 2011 WWPR Emerging Leaders Award winner. “Nonetheless, the relationship between these two fields is—in the Facebook sense—‘complicated.’ ”
PR professionals from across the Washington, DC area gathered this week at the National Press Club for the WWPR Annual Media Roundtable and Luncheon. A distinguished panel of journalists looked critically at the state of journalism today, and discussed best practices for public relations professionals to navigate this changing environment.
The panel included:
Amy Austin – Publisher, Washington City Paper
Anne Louise Bayly Berman – DC Editor, Daily Candy
Tamara Keith – Congressional Reporter, NPR
Karen Shalett – Editor, DC Magazine
Brandis Griffith Friedman – Special Projects Producer, WJLA-TV
Trends of Note
The event began with a discussion of new trends in the media landscape. In an era where everyone can become a publisher in a matter of minutes, Austin emphasized there is great demand for quality content that offers a trusted voice or something unique. In addition, the panel acknowledged the shift towards “hyperlocal” content, with greater emphasis on reporting that is both local and ahead of the curve.
Bayly Berman noted people used to read an article and simply move on. In contrast, today’s readers take immediate action after viewing an article—whether by leaving a comment, retweeting, or purchasing a daily deal for the restaurant they just read about.
A key theme of the day was the recent shifts in journalism have forced reporters to be better than ever. People have less tolerance for jargon, or content that is not useful to their lives. Journalists are embracing these changes, providing better substance to readers and pointing to a promising future for the field.
Pitching to the Press
When sending pitches via email—think Twitter! Just like a 140 character post, make the subject line punchy and attention-grabbing to ensure that your email gets noticed.
Shalett urged the room to be aware of the varying lead times of different publications and the journalist in question. For instance, Daily Candy has immediate deadlines in order to be the first to cover a new business in town, as opposed to reporters at NPR who need time to develop an in depth story and find authentic voices. With this in mind, it can sometimes be better to actually contact a reporter before a full press release is prepared and perfected. For example, try sending an exploratory pitch explaining: “We think this is coming up. If this is of interest to you we can pursue this further.” With this advance notice, the journalist can build your story into their plans and be sure to provide the best coverage.
Overall the event was a great success, with a lively question and answer session and an engaged audience. The dialogue and concrete advice clarified many aspects of media relations, and hopefully took steps towards making this relationship a little less “complicated.”
What were you favorite take-aways from the media panel? Please share with the WWPR Blog readers.