- Posted by Erin Charles
- On December 11, 2018
- Jacksonville, media, north Florida, pitching media, PR, PR tactics, prsa
What can public relations professionals do to help their story pitches connect with reporters and editors? The North Florida Annual Media Roundtable, hosted by the Public Relations Society of America, provided key takeaways from media outlets in Jacksonville, Florida.
The tips, which were revealed over an intimate Italian dinner, speed dating-style, aim to help PR professionals increase productivity and awareness, and ultimately produce quicker and more sound results.
Know the agenda
While the panel was Jacksonville-centric, one lesson was universal: Be considerate of the way media operate. Learn the size of the publication you are pitching and when they publish or air – are they a quarterly, weekly or daily? For radio outlets, (as the NPR Jacksonville affiliate WJCT was in attendance) know whether they broadcast on weekends.
These are all relevant as you begin outreach and should be in tune with how far in advance you expect their interest. For example:
- Folio Weekly requests story ideas at least three weeks out;
- Flamingo Magazine requires ideas and images three months out; and
- Edible Northeast Florida requires two to three months in advance, and every issue has a theme.
Do the research
Background research is an element of pitching that cannot be stressed enough. Often, it helps to know a reporter on a personal level to know how to “crack the code,” which is another reason media panels are such important opportunities. Be conscious of deadline days, contact preference, type of coverage and format requirements (if you are submitting to a magazine that always requires photos, etc.)
- If it is strictly a local publication, keep it local.
- Don’t pitch a story that has already been written, and if you do choose to do so, make it unique in some way. Or as editor Lauren Titus of Edible NE Florida put it, identify the value proposition.
- Do not leave voicemails, unless specified as a preference. Managing editor Clay Zeigler of the Florida Times-Union emphasizes: NO calls and NO voicemails (Additional hints: he wants complete thoughts rather than paraphrased ideas and never has interest in “expert sources.”)
Working with the media is a science, but if you digest and implement these tips above you will see more feedback than when simply crossing your fingers and hitting “send” on that last-minute pitch.
One good result will turn into another, a strong media relationship can be formed. Always remember, media outlets need PR professionals as much as PR pros need the media.
Erin Charles is an account executive at Poston Communications, based in Orlando.