It’s a busy time for events at the moment, and the Scriba team are out and about visiting different workshops and panels, all across the country.
It was only recently that two of the Scriba family headed northwest to the city of Manchester, to attend a ‘Meet the Media’ session – staged by pro-manchester – helping PRs to develop meaningful relationships with regional journalists.
The two-hour talk – hosted by Business Cloud’s executive editor, Chris Maguire – featured a press-worthy panel of speakers, including:
– Shelina Begum – MEN Media
– Michael Ribbeck – The Business Desk North West (TBD NW)
– Karl Holbrook – Newsquest
– Anna de la Perelle – delaPR
– Guy Kilty – BBC Radio
– Jonathan Symcox – Business Cloud
So, without further ado, here are our top 11 takeaways from the day…
1) Timely phrasing – Journalists don’t mind the odd “hope you had a nice weekend” comment – however, not after Monday, as it makes the email feel less considered and genuine. And, a “Happy New Year” in March, is not okay.
2) Divided roles – Michael from TBD NW explained that only 30% of his job is journalism, the remaining 70% is dedicated to organising events and roundtables. They receive hundreds of emails every day and use circa 15 stories from these every day – so make your email relevant and to the point.
3) A journalist never forgets – It was revealed that “journalists have a long memory”, meaning that if someone says they’re going to turn up to a roundtable and doesn’t, it’s not forgotten in a hurry!
4) Don’t overlook the basics – All the panel shared the same frustrations around PRs sending press releases without including what the company does and where it is based. Without this information, the journalist doesn’t know if it’s relevant or not and will discard it.
5) Assessing the angle – Not all stories are newsworthy, and that’s okay. It’s vital to consider the press angle and if it’s not there, politely go back to your client (or boss) and explain that it may be better suited to a blog or internal comms piece. Otherwise, it could damage relationships and reputations between both your clients and journalists alike.
6) Staying away from the waffle – Jonathan from Business Cloud shared how one of his pet peeves with press releases is the superfluous language. He’s often found removing unnecessary adjectives of content he receives – and given journalists can only have 5-10 mins to rewrite each story, the ones that require less tweaking will inevitably gain greater favour.
7) Newsrooms are stretched – It’s no secret that an increasing number of newsrooms are increasingly understaffed, and that message rang true for all the panellists. Therefore, Karl added that PRs need to “thread the needle” for journalists, allowing them to immediately see the hook in such a time-pressure environment.
8) An insight into broadcast – Guy explained how, from a broadcast media perspective, stories in the traditional sense aren’t of much interest. Where the opportunities lie is in reactive commentary from business owners, who can relate their own experiences to what’s happening in the news.
9) Location, location, location – Interesting or unusual site visits or factory tours to give the story some context are a journalist’s bread and butter. So, think about the ‘full-package’ offer you’re selling-in, not just what the journalist can read, but also what can they see to give it a little more flavour.
10) It’s all about timing – Understand that the news agenda will always take priority, at any stage during the pitch process, even if you think it’s confirmed! You can make your pitch a stronger sell by preparing your client to comment on issues outside of your story – refusing to comment on topical issues makes it look like you’ve got something to hide. And remember, it’s okay to say you don’t know!
11) It takes two – The resounding message from the panel was that journalists are people too, and it’s something that many businesses and PRs forget when pitching in stories. Doing your research is crucial, to ensure your suggestions are relevant and tailored – if not, the journalists will pick this up straight away and your emails will be destined for the trash bin.