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Story Pitching: Get in Tune with Reporters' Needs

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  • 1. Tom Banse Thanks for joining us. We will begin a few minutes past the hour to allow everyone time to settle in. Sian Wu Story Pitching: How to Get in Tune with Reporters’ Needs November 2010
  • 2. About Resource Media •  Communications Strategy •  Execution and Outreach •  Digital and Social Media •  Environmental and Health Focus
  • 3. Staff 30 9 Offices San Francisco Seattle Boulder Kalispell Sacramento Bozeman Portland Salt Lake City Anchorage
  • 4. Have a question? Need help?
  • 5. 1. Research your pitch 2. Practice your pitch 3. Practice good reporter etiquette 4. Understand your audience: the media 5. Make it memorable: hooks and angles 6. Special Guest: NPR Reporter Tom Banse What we’ll cover today
  • 6. Tuning up: research your pitch 1
  • 7. First ask: • How will media achieve my end goal? • No media is a strategy Think strategy
  • 8. •  Aggressive? •  Informative? •  Buzz-building? •  Base-activating? What kind of story do you want?
  • 9. •  Has this been covered before? •  Who’s been quoted on this? •  How is the issue currently framed? •  What types of outlets would be most influential? •  Who writes on this? •  Do we want to go national or local first? Do a sound check
  • 10. Know their beats
  • 11. Make a note of: •  What they’re interested in •  The stories/blogs they’ve written •  Who doesn’t want to be called •  Who is on social media •  Their status after your pitch Keep tabs on them
  • 12. Practice good reporter etiquette 2
  • 13. Be mindful of their lives: •  Pitched by hundreds of people •  Working on daily deadlines •  Need to answer to their editors •  Need a good visual (especially true for TV)
  • 14. •  “Just calling to follow up.” •  “Wanted to make sure you got it.” Irksome words Sometimes I just popup for no particular reason, like now.
  • 15. Build relationships Support their work by: • Spreading good reporting to your networks • Posting stories to your blog and newsletter • Following reporters on Twitter and retweeting their content • Commenting on stories online
  • 16. Find them on Twitter Media on Twitter: • http://mediaontwitter.com Muckrack: • http://muckrack.com Journalist Tweets: • http://journalisttweets.com/ search
  • 17. Grace under fire
  • 18. •  What are their pitch preferences? •  What are they interested in? •  Where can you read more or connect? Listen
  • 19. Know when to let go
  • 20. Understanding your audience: the media 3
  • 21. Stay in tune with a reporter’s needs •  Access to spokespeople •  Quality images, logos and video •  Embargo lift date and time •  Transparency •  Timeline of important decisions •  Access to primary documents
  • 22. TV needs •  It’s all about the visual •  Don’t make them go the distance •  “If it bleeds it leads” •  Keep in mind competition and sweeps weeks •  Demonstrations and personality
  • 23. Stay in tune with a reporter’s wants •  Peculiarity •  Proximity •  Prominence •  Promptness •  Peer review
  • 24. •  Blatant self promotion •  Internal news •  Opinion—ax to grind •  Pitch robots What strikes a bad chord?
  • 25. Mending fences •  Recognize ideologically hostile press •  Show them you’re a real person •  Change up your spokespeople •  Hit other outlets
  • 26. Make it memorable: hooks and angles 4
  • 27. Develop your news hook What’s: • New • Interesting • Surprising • Timely • Relevant or • Localize a national story
  • 28. What are the impacts that haven’t been covered yet? •  Economic •  Political •  Environmental •  Social •  Health Identify the problem, substitute a better question and reframe positively Find the right angle
  • 29. •  Always call with breaking news •  Be mindful of deadlines •  Give advance notice for events or feature story ideas •  Suggest a meeting or field trip •  Try, try again The conflict angle •  Media loves it •  How to avoid it •  When to play it up
  • 30. It’s not all about you Let the news lead with your organization as a supporting character in the story
  • 31. Warming up: practice your pitch 5
  • 32. Practice your pitch •  Role play with a coworker •  Think of tough reporter questions •  For email pitches: •  Lead with the big news •  Keep it short •  Use AP style and proofread •  Stay jargon-free
  • 33. •  Know the main messages •  Line up facts and figures •  But don’t read from a script Be prepared
  • 34. Know your land mines What topics are no-go zones? Who can speak to that? Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to see in the story: •  On the record •  Off the record •  On background
  • 35. •  Consider how media will help you achieve your goal •  Know your reporters really well by being a news junkie •  Understand reporter deadlines and inboxes •  All good stories need a good hook •  News stories aren’t all about you Reminders:
  • 36. Special guest: Tom Banse Tom Banse Northwest Regional Correspondent NPR News
  • 37. Sian Wu Program Director Seattle Office sian@resource-media.org 206.374.7795 x102 @ThatsSoEco Tom Banse Northwest Regional Correspondent NPR News We welcome your questions!
  • 38. 1.  Would you recommend this webinar to a friend? 2.  How would you rate this webinar on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 as not helpful and 10 as very helpful for my work? 3.  Suggestions for future webinar topics? 4.  Other comments? Feedback?
  • 39. Explore More RM Trainings • Blogger Relations – December • Coming up in 2011: •  Communicating science TBD •  Branding TBD •  Interviewing and public speaking TBD •  LinkedIn for nonprofits TBD
  • 40. In the Beginning