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October 19, 2014 / Stephanie Vermillion

PR Tips from Media Day 2014

PRSA Cincinnati Media Day 2014On Oct. 14, 10 months of event planning to came to an exciting, insightful close. I co-chaired PRSA Cincinnati’s annual Media Day PR conference this year, and despite the utter chaos that is event planning, the day actually went really, really well.

Anyone who has delved into the planning space knows events are just plain tough. You spend what feels like decades preparing and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s all over.

But, with this “learnings” recap post, I’m keeping the Media Day buzz going, (minus the stressful part, of course). Today, after I’ve had a week to decompress with pumpkin beer and bubble baths, I’ll take you through some of my PR takeaways from Media Day 2014.

1. Learn your target reporter’s communication preference.

In the media panel portion of the day, we had one reporter say PR pros should call with a story idea. Another said to call if you have the relationship established, but start with email. A third reporter on the panel said always email – never call.

While these tips, at first glance, all contradict each other, I think one point is very clear: Do your research. There’s no one-size-fits-all preference for pitch follow-up methods. Instead, you need to learn what that specific reporter likes, either from trial and error, talking with colleagues or looking at Cision notes. While it may be time consuming, the research always pays off.

2. Pitch the experience, not just the story idea.

This one is especially important if you’re pitching a TV reporter covering lighter, less hard-hitting news. If you’re pitching an idea about, say, a new pizzeria in town, invite the reporter to participate in making the pizza or tossing the dough. If you’re pitching a new bike service, offer the chance to ride one of the new bikes before they’re available to the public.

The more interactive, the more likely these TV reporters are to cover it. Just remember, you can’t pitch the same segment everywhere. You have to develop new, fresh angles and ideas for each reporter or they’ll start to catch on – and you’ll ruin your PR reputation.

3. Leverage trade organizations for your company’s trend story.

Just read the Sunday paper and you’ll quickly realize, the media loves a good trend story. Work with your company’s trade group to find recent statistics that your company can speak to.

Pitch the trend story, tying your company in as an example (when the trend is positive, of course.) If you don’t know where to look for these story ideas, consider calling up someone from the trade organization and see what types of research they have coming down the pike as well.

4. Get out of your comfort zone.

You can take two paths in your PR career. On the first path, you do everything you’re assigned to do, stay with a good company and find yourself comfortable and happy in your role. This works perfectly for many people.

But, to really make a splash, you have to get out of your comfort zone and follow path number two: constantly looking for new opportunities, always finding ways to improve (even if it means throwing yourself in foreign situations) and never resting. If you’re reading this blog, or really any industry blog, you’re probably personality type two.

As Kate White, former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and famous writer, notes, the second you start feeling comfortable is the time you should start looking for either a new learning opportunity or, for some, a new job. Here are a few ways to seek out new responsibilities on the job in case you’re not ready to jump ship.

So, there you have it: four important lessons from Media Day 2014. But like all conferences, it’s tough to sum up the day’s learnings in one post. To retroactively learn the day’s lessons, check out the #PRSAMediaDay stream on Twitter.

Did you attend Media Day 2014? Share your learnings below!



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