Broadcast media panel offers tips on getting your story aired

Feb 17

@PPRA Broadcast Media Tips w/@DelgadoT62 @jodi_harris @kurtzpaul @EugeneSonn @6abcFYIPhilly Stephen McKenzie cbs3 @pyramidclubphlView from 52nd floor Pyramid Club, site of PPRA Meeting of Broadcast Media Tips

With technology continually changing the way we access news and how news organizations gather it, learning pitching tips for public relations pros never gets old. More than 80 Philadelphia Public Relations Association members agreed, and attended Broadcast Media Panel Offers Tips for Getting Your Stories on the Air on Feb 17 from the Pyramid Club’s 52nd floor perch overlooking the city. (Considering PPRA unveiled its new logo with the Philadelphia skyline in the back, the view was apropos.).

The panelists included four from TV: Iris Delgado, Anchor/Reporter for Telemundo62; Jodi Harris, Planning Manager/Producer Fox29; Stephen McKenzie, Managing Editor of CBS3 Eyewitness News, and Tim Walton, Producer Programming Department  FYIPhilly WPVI6, and two from radio: Paul Kurtz, Reporter at KYW Newsradio 1060, and Eugene Sonn, Audio News Director WHYY-FM. Susan Buehler of Buehler Media and Chief Communications Officer for PJM Interconnection, which coordinates electricity supply to 13 states, brought some of that energy to moderating the discussion. She did an excellent job of balancing the questions the audience would have for the media members and what they needed to tell us, and injecting humor along the way. Sometimes, these sessions can devolve into “pet peeves journalists have about PR people” and we feel like we’re being scolded. That wasn’t the case here.

Based on my and other tweets, here’s a summary of what the panel shared. McKenzie emphasized that a story must fit multiple platforms. “I have to decide what I think our viewers care about, and it has to fit on the air, on the Web, and on social, three platforms. It must have compelling video.”

The best times to pitch varied depending on when the station’s editorial planning meetings were scheduled during the day, and in the case of Delgado, who anchors a 5 p.m. newscast, “please don’t call me 15 minutes before I go on the air.” Good times to talk to her are between 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. before the 3 p.m. meeting. She will follow-up around 10 p.m. as she plans the stories for the next day.

MacKenize said between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., while Harris said, “pretty much anytime. I always have my phone. For bigger stories on lighter topics, contact me a few weeks in advance.”

Sonn echoed reporters’ complaints for generations: “It’s annoying when someone is pitching and has never seen the show, and the story doesn’t fit.” He added, “Around 2 p.m. is a good time to call. Think about times of the week that might be slow and you might have better luck with your pitch.  The story has to fit into 45 seconds.”

Kurtz said he prefers to be contacted by e-mail first, followed by a tweet through direct messaging, but the successful pitch can come down to luck and opportunity. ” It’s all about timing,” he said. “If you have an expert, who can speak on a current topic that’s helpful. Try newstips@kyw1060info.com to get ideas to us.”

For TV, Harris says, “The person has to be good on TV. Sometimes, we’ll look for an expert who we haven’t talked to before.”

Delgado said there’s a misconception about Spanish media. “Telemundo 62 covers what is in the English media in Spanish,” she said. “A Hispanic angle is important.

“Whatever the emotional, human angle may be, your pitch might be the best backup plan when another story falls through,” she added.

Walton, who works at FYIPhilly, says their demands are different. “We’re not a news show so there’s more open times to pitch,” he said. At the same time, he is currently accepting summer pitches.

They all chorused when Buehler said, “Keep it simple and brief: Headline, one paragraph. You need to have thick skin and keep trying if your first e-mail doesn’t get a response.”

The use of the Internet – should we be pitching web editors, too — and social media drew some interesting responses.

“Web Editors are not doing copy, they’re posting info,” said Harris.

Kurtz said the web has enabled them to do more with their stories. “While you may get a short amount of time on the radio, we put more copy on the Web and create podcasts, which are archived.  I covered the protests at the Democratic National Convention on Facebook live, the first time I used it.”

“Social media has broadened our audience beyond Greater Philadelphia,” said Sonn. “If you have a pitch with an expert who has a good social media following, mention it.”

Tip of the Week: Expertise in your field can net media coverage

Another way to get publicity is to realize you are an expert at what you do. This is never more true than when you write a book because people who have not written a book are envious of those who have. You’re an expert on that subject.  Sometimes publicity falls in your lap as happened to me, though because of a tragic event. I wrote a You're the Expert art for blogpost Expertise in Your Field can net media coverage, Michael Kleiner Public Relations & Web Designmemoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, which shows how, I, though not of Norwegian descent, developed an affinity for the country, culture and people, beginning when I lived in Norway for a year with my family at age 11, and my return trips as an adult.

On Friday, July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik set off a bomb in the center of Oslo, then went to the island of Utøya, where the Labour Party was having a youth retreat. He slaughtered almost 70 young people, including a friend of my friend’s 18-year old daughter. This occurred at the confluence of another event. In Summer 1992, I attended the International Summer School at the University of Oslo with 500 students from 70 countries. In 1996, I planned a trip around the 50th anniversary of the ISS. Before I left, I was contacted by the student organizer asking me to speak as an alum at the event.

That tragic Friday was the week before the 65th anniversary event and I had planned to e-mail good wishes that day. While I worried about the safety of my Norwegian friends, I worried that ISS could be a target. I issued a statementAsk an Expert graphic for blogpost that you are an expert in your field, Michael Kleiner Public Relations & Web Design that Mt. Airy Patch used. The following Sunday, I found messages on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages, voice mail, and e-mail from Pat Loeb of KYW Radio. Notice the different media channels she tried. She was looking for someone to interview with a Norwegian connection. She Googled and found me. I didn’t think it was proper to mention the book under the circumstances, but I was introduced as a Norway expert and she mentioned the ISS’ upcoming 65thanniversary. She used the quote (about 10 seconds) when I talked about what made the ISS successful, but the point was, “This (Anders Breivik) is not the Norway I know.” She also interviewed a college professor. I am a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia, which didn’t exist then. She could have had a choice of actual Norwegians to offer reactions. But, she found me.