9 valuable tips when pitching to the media

According to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Labor last year, PR professionals outnumber reporters 4.6 to 1. It’s more important than ever before to do your research and craft a concise pitch that will be of interest to the reporter and their readers. During our March Meet the Media event, we sat down with a few journalists to hear their tips on what PR pros should think about when crafting a pitch.

  1. “Find a local angle, and ask, ‘why would you care?’”
  2. “Know what you want to pitch, and to whom you are pitching.”
  3. “Cut to the chase.”
  4. “Don’t forget to follow up a week out, a day out and the day of the event/news; otherwise it might get lost in the inbox.”
  5. “Know your reporter’s beat.”
  6. “Send to the group email (e.g., news@outlet.com); it’s the best way ensure that someone will see your email.”
  7. “Be prepared when you pitch – you’re the expert.”
  8. “Know the outlet’s deadline and editorial calendar.”
  9. “If you get your story picked up, make the most of it (e.g., share it on Twitter). It will make it much easier to pitch a story the next time.”

You’ve most likely heard most of them before, but they serve a great reminder, saving time and effort for both PR pros and our journalist friends.

A big thank you to all the media participants: Diana Willsie and Dan Boers (WOOD TV 8); Marty Primeau (Grand Rapids Magazine); Leigh Ann Towne, Andrea Shaner and Amanda Stevenson (FOX 17); Anya Zentmeyer (Rapid Growth); Claire Fodell (Newsradio WOOD 1300); Jennifer Pascua and Peter Ross (WZZM TV 13); Shandra Martinez (MLive Media Group); Amy Charles (West Michigan Woman); Josh Depenbrok (GRNow.com); Hilary Farrell (WGVU Radio); Tim Gortsema and Chris Ehrlich (Grand Rapids Business Journal); Rich Tupica (REVUE Magazine); and Molly Rizor (REVUE Magazine).

Don’t miss April’s hot event, The Art of Executive Communications and Speechwriting, to hear from industry experts on writing for executives, from the boardroom to the White House and everywhere in between. [April 16, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Eve Lounge at The B.O.B.]

Job Description – Junior Public Relations Specialist

Steelcase is looking for a public relations specialist to work as part of its global public relations team. The ideal candidate has excellent written and oral communication skills, strong presentation and networking skills and an ability to work independently. Curiosity, creativity and an enthused desire to learn are a must. Ideal candidate has 1-2 years public relations experience, with agency experience preferred. The Steelcase global public relations team is a high-energy, smart, driven team and is looking for someone who excels in these areas.

Job descriptions include:

Coordinate Day-to-day public relations activities:  Respond to daily media requests for information and photos. Coordinate interviews with leaders and gather information as needed, manage Gesture demo/loaner program for journalists.

Social Media: Work with social media manager to closely align public relations messages with social media messages and create social media calendars and timelines.

Writing: Draft news releases, blog posts and bylined articles as necessary. Capture Steelcase voice and effectively communicate through written material.

Coordinate public relations for events: Work with Steelcase events team to lead PR efforts on small events. Contact journalists, set up interviews for spokespeople on the ground, prepare people on the ground and work closely with social media teams.

Awards: Coordinate timing, approval and submission of design awards. Create news release and help with promotion of award winnings.

Blog: Assist with day-to-day maintenance of Steelcase blog including editing content, finding photos and uploading as necessary.

PR Reporting: Assist with public relations reporting by keeping record of key placements, preparing slides, reports and monitoring updates as necessary. Work with outside agencies to provide the best tools for monitoring coverage.  Develop method to share clips with key internal stakeholders on regular basis. Contact Mary Chestnut at mchestnu@steelcase.com to apply.

Program Recap: "How to Get Hired" - Myths, Tips, and How it Really Works

by Audra Hartges (www.audrahartges.com) WMPRSA Program: "How to Get Hired"

The job market can be confusing whether you are looking for your first professional position, hoping to transition from your current position, or trying to re-enter the workforce.

At “How to Get Hired” Steve Groenink, Managing Director at Lambert Edwards & Associates, Jim D’Amico, Director of Talent Acquisition for Spectrum Health, and David Dart, Vice President of Global Human Resources at BISSELL Homecare, Inc. explained how the hiring process really works and discussed how to navigate applying and interviewing for a position. Below are highlights from their panel discussion, including three myths they dispelled and some tips to help you land the job.

Myth 1: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

  • Truth is, the company or organization you are dying to work for won’t hire you just because you went to middle school with one of their VP’s. Who you know might help bring your resume to the top of the pile, but isn’t the most important factor.
  • Your personality and how you would fit in the organization is what they are really hiring for and what an interview helps them determine. All three panelists said that before they hire you, they have to like you.

Myth 2: A flawless cover letter detailing your passion and talent will land you an interview.

  • Cover letters almost never get read. Yes, they said it. If there is a hiring manager who will ultimately decide your fate… he or she won’t read it, either.
  • Improve your resume, which does get look at, by making your experience quantifiable. How much money did you make or save your company? How many media impressions did you earn?
  • Students: make your resume stand out by being a leader on campus or by gaining a diverse set of experiences through cultural groups or study abroad.
  • Even if they don’t look at your cover letter, someone hiring you might check your LinkedIn profile. Keep it up to date, especially since some employers (including Spectrum Health this summer) are accepting applications through LinkedIn.

Myth 3: “The hiring process is simple-if they like you, they hire you!”

  • If your interviewer is just “checking boxes” they don’t have any power in the hiring process-you’re just being screened and will be passed on to a hiring manager who will decide to hire you or not.
  • If an HR representative thinks you are a candidate for the position (after a first or second interview) they will become your advocate, attaching their name and credibility to your utter brilliance. They want to help you get the job, so be transparent with them about things like your salary needs.

P.S. Making a move up that ladder? Expect a 10-20% earnings increase in a new position.

Be extraordinary tips.

Most people won’t do these things. You should.

  • Craft a stand-out answer to an experiential interview question by following the plan, do, check model. Tell how you planned for success, what you did, and how you checked or evaluated the success.
  • Follow up, even if you don’t get the job. Both Groenink and D’Amico add their contact information to rejection emails and are willing to discuss with applicants why they weren’t hired. Learn from your mistakes and get ready to blow away the competition next time.

New Member Profile - Nicole Cook of the Humane Society of West Michigan

Nicole Cook, Marketing and Events Coordinator at Humane Society of West Michigan 1. Where do you work and what is your title?

I am the Marketing and Events Coordinator at Humane Society of West Michigan.

2. What is your main objective in that role?

My main objective is to do anything and everything necessary to promote our organization and the animals in our care. Whether it is writing a press release or assisting on a hoarding case, I have done it all :)

3. What PRSA benefit do you find the most value in?

I enjoy the webinars. My job requires a lot of my time so I'm not able to attend the monthly luncheons but the webinars offer a lot of valuable information that I can more easily attend.

4. Why did you join WMPRSA?

I joined WMPRSA to network and learn from more people in the Public Relations field. I am a firm believer of learning what works (and what doesn't work) from other people's experiences. Your peers are an invaluable resource and something that you should reference.

5. If you could have a job anywhere in the world, where and what would it be?

I would love to work at Alison Brod PR in New York City. They are a full-service public relations firm comprised of a staff of 60 women. They specialize in product placement and events and have been highly successful. I would love to work in their high-energy, hardworking office!

6. Name a favorite website and explain why you like it.

I love spending time on pinterest.com! It is a website that allows my creativity to shine and has given me many ideas that are way out of the box! I have found numerous items of inspiration that have allowed me to create bigger and better concept events and/or campaigns for Humane Society of West Michigan.