Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PRSA meets Media Relations

I really hate to admit this - I've been a member of PRSA for nearly a year and haven't been to a single meeting.  Not that I haven't wanted to go to meetings, because I have.  In fact, while working at WE I asked my manager nearly every week, "so there's this meeting next week, and it would require me to take a bit of an extended lunch break..." but for some reason or another, something always came up on the day of the meeting (we all know how PR agencies work...)   

Now that I am starting fresh in LA, however, I finally attended my first meeting tonight!  A PRSA Young Professionals meeting.  Topic = "The Perfect Pitch."  I was surprised at how nicely this meeting was put together.  There were three speakers - an SAE from The Rogers Group, an SAE from GolinHarris, and the communications director for the Vice Provost at USC.  It was arranged as a panel discussion, and a YP board member moderated the conversation.

Now, I know we've heard all the pitching tips a million times over, but I personally think that young PR professionals can't get enough advice from the media experts.  Every PR Pro has a different take on pitching and has developed his or her own, unique style over the years.  (And hey, the last thing any of us wants is to have an e-mail we wrote end up in the Bad Pitch Blog.)

Some interesting pieces of advice the professionals shared during the meeting...
  • Best to send an e-mail first, then follow up with a phone call.  But make sure you leave at least 24 hours between contact attempts!  And never call from an unavailable number.
  • Direct mail is so out.  But sometimes (on occasion) a handwritten note can have a nice impact.
  • The FIRST question you should always ask is - "Are you on deadline?"  If so, make sure to ask what time is best to call back.
  • Jot down the 3 points you want to get across during the conversation.
  • Make sure you fully understand the pitch before you call.
  • Put some thought into your subject line, and don't begin with "press release" or "media alert" - you are only wasting space.  
  • Never send a press release to a blogger.
  • And of course, the number one rule we all should know - Do your research before you pitch!  Does the reporter have a blog?  What is he/she interested in?  Will he/she actually write?  Etc..

Now my call to action for all you young professionals out there: Join this group!  Go to these meetings!  They will be well worth your time, weather you have a job or not.  

PS: If you have a good media relations tip to share, leave a comment!

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