Acquaint Your PR Contacts with the Meet the Media Blog
Do your PR contacts blog regularly offering editorial management how-to advice? Sounds like a good idea to me. I’m talking about the Meet the Media blog program created by Bianchi Public Relations.
According to company president Jim Bianchi, the firm “tries to do two profiles per month on a journalist who covers our clientele—automotive or heavy duty truck suppliers and the Detroit area professional service firms that serve these suppliers.”
The program’s goal, says Bianchi, “is to provide PR people with some useful information that will help them understand key journalists’ needs, approaches and preferences. Our goal is to build a bridge between the PR and editorial communities so that we all can do a better job of serving the public at large.”
I became aware of the program earlier this week when—to my pleasant surprise—I found that the current blog post is devoted to Deborah Lockridge, editor-in-chief, Heavy Duty Trucking. A Neal Award recipient, Deborah also is a member of my LinkedIn group, Editorial Solutions Performance Insider. For her Meet the Media interview, she responded to questions posed involving professional and personal background. Of particular interest were her comments covering PR relationships:
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Build a relationship; I’m far more likely to listen to pitches from people I’ve worked with before. Show me you understand our audience and our content needs. Pitch me something exclusive. Make life easy for me by providing background, great photos or artwork, even video. Understand I can’t run every release.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Here are some of the biggest ones:
• Press releases and emails written in techno- or business-buzzword jargon and acronyms. If I don’t understand what you’re talking about in the first few sentences, it’s going in the trash.
• People who clearly haven’t taken any time to understand our audience and the kind of content we use.
• People who call me wanting to know if we’re going to run their press release. I get dozens every single day. Even worse, when they get my voice mail, hang up and immediately try again without leaving a message.
• People who try to hold the fact that their company is an advertiser over my head to try to get me to run a release, or who go to my publisher with a pitch or a complaint instead of the editor.
A previous Meet the Media blog post covered Mike Brezonick, publisher of COMPRESSORTECH2 and senior editor for Diesel Progress and New Power Progress. He offered interesting comments about pitching a story to editors:
It would be helpful if you have something specific in mind in terms of a story that would work for my publication. There have been several instances when I’ve gotten a note saying that some high executive at Company X “is available for an interview.” And that’s essentially the entire pitch – no background, no suggestion of what the subject of the interview might be.
Brezonick also addressed some pet peeves with PR people that sound all too familiar to editors:
Please don’t make me have to do all of the work. I routinely get press releases that have very little actual detail (other than the company is “world class,” the subject matter is “industry leading” and of course, “revolutionary”) to the point where I can’t tell if the information is suitable for my audience or not. In a perfect world, I can look at the release and know in seconds whether or not it’s something I can use. It is definitely not a perfect world.
Also, if you put a contact name from the company prompting me to get more specific information from that person, please make sure that person knows that and is responsive.
Jim Bianchi’s advice to editors
I asked Bianchi PR president Jim Bianchi to suggest ways editors could improve PR relationships. His response covers a broad range of possibilities:
• If the PR person sends you background materials before an interview with the CEO, please review them before the interview. It will save time, demonstrate your professionalism, and set the stage for a better reaction from (and interview with) the CEO.
• If you need additional information, a technical review or artwork, please don’t wait until 24 hours before your deadline. Companies and agencies have leaner staffs, too, these days, and despite all the communications technology, it can often take more time to get a response prepared. That art, video or info may not be sitting ready on the shelf.
• Most editors now use social media to promote and amplify their stories. Smart PR people will like, comment and share the stories on their companies, so anything you can do to make your story easier to notice and share on the major platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) helps you to build your reach and audience. If you’re not following the companies you cover and their PR people’s Twitter and other feeds, you may want do so.
• Phone calls and face-to-face are more important than ever. I often tell my (younger) staff that you can’t build a relationship online; you build it by speaking directly with the person. Then you can communicate electronically to maintain the relationship. But there is no substitute to meeting with the person and getting to know them as a human being. Business is still ultimately based around relationships.