Online News Media: 15 tips on how to pitch them
At the last “At Breakfast With” panel discussion, a series that the Los Angeles Area Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) hosts every so often, the focus was online news media and how to get editors’ attention. Panelists included:
- Steven Rosenberg, Online Editor, Los Angeles Daily News
- Christine Miceli, Executive Producer/Online Editor, KTLA.com
- Alysia Gray Painter, Editor, NBCLosAngeles.com
- James Macpherson, Editor, PasadenaNow.com
Three of these four online news organizations were born from traditional media, if that’s any indication of where these online offshoots currently stand in the whole scheme of things. Not so different from slightly rebellious teen-agers, continually developing a mind of their own but still living under their parents’ roof.
How does this dynamic help the PR professional? As Steven Rosenberg put it, “If you’re pitching to print, you’re also pitching to online” and, most likely, vice versa. The panelists shared other insightful suggestions to the PR pros in the audience on what to be aware of and how to approach them for coverage. Here’s a rundown of the tips they offered:
- Include multimedia — videos (edited, if possible) and images – in pitches.
- Make sure that pitches relate to their individual audiences and, if applicable, geographic locations that each organization targets.
- Send an email two to three weeks before the date of your event and then follow-up with a reminder right before.
- Attach high-resolution images in your emails.
- In the email subject line, provide the main thrust of your pitch and include the date.
- Use the features approach: Tie in a product or service with an upcoming occasion.
- Be aware: News can be broken online, even before they appear on the evening news.
- If you aren’t using Twitter, better start now.
- Be aware: TV stations (in this case, NBC and KTLA) review local publications to look for interesting stories.
- Send out a press release that positions your CEO or spokesperson as an unusual source on topics that may not have anything to do with his/her company, but that he/she has an opinion on or can intelligently speak about. (An example: A CEO of a bank can comment on how the local real estate market is affecting consumer foot traffic.)
- Use bullet points, bold areas that need calling out, include links and one-liners that can be easily scanned.
- For TV, they usually shoot their own footage, so provide high-resolution images instead.
- If you do have a video, the easiest way to get it to them is to post it on YouTube and send them the link.
- Be aware: Different media companies sometimes work together: CNN and the Los Angeles Times often use content derived from KTLA.
- If they’re not interested, they’re not going to contact you to tell you that they aren’t. No need to send multiple emails or leave voice mails – it’s only going to bug them more.
The jury is still out on whether “newspapers are dead” or if all news collection, consumption and publishing will eventually resort to an online-only platform. (Read Emily Levant’s blog post on eReader technology for another tangent on this topic.) To me, the interesting part of this whole debate is the convergence of traditional and online media – how one overlaps the other and how they are being forced to work together despite the contention, if any, between them.