By Alexandra Brown
Sometimes it can be tough to take a break away from the daily grind of the office, but when you can take the time to learn a thing or two from the media themselves, it’s well worth sacrificing a couple of hours. This Wednesday, myself and my colleague attended Publicity Club of Chicago‘s (PCC) monthly luncheon themed Chicago’s Public Media Powerhouses.
For us, this was a must-attend event, as our clients have been dying to get a coveted spot as a guest on the featured shows. Panelists included Aurora Aguilar, project editor at WBEZ, Eddie Arruza, correspondent and segment host for WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, Beni Enas, producer for WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and Michael Puente, reporter for WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana Bureau. Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter Natasha Korecki was the moderator, posing the questions we seek answers for everyday and giving us an inside perspective on a day-in-the-life of a media professional.
In case you missed it, following are some key takeaways and tips for PR pros and rookies alike:
Watch and listen. Whether it’s a broadcast program or radio show, know the show you are pitching and know it well. Familiarize yourself both with the content, but also with the format. The panelists agreed that watching or listening to segments online is a good place to start if you can’t catch the show live. And shows like Chicago Tonight are long form, in-depth discussions, so knowing that the story idea can endure the length of the segment is key, noted both Arruza and Enas.
Think integrated. The Internet has opened the gateway for a multi-faceted approach in delivering news. For example, each news outlet now has a website. “The Internet is the great equalizer,” Puente said, meaning we as PR professionals not only have to think about how clients can fit into a radio piece, but about whether there may be opportunity for online content, be it in a video or written article form. He suggests feeding the beast “web first” and thinking through all of the different elements of media today.
Make it local. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. There absolutely must be a local tie to make your pitch strong. Arruza rattled off questions to consider before sending him a pitch: How can the expert fit into the show’s format? How can you make it Chicago-centeric? How well does your subject know the Chicago community? Having strong answers to these questions is essential.
Build relationships. Of course, at the core of public relations is the relationships we build on a daily basis. Enas urged specifically targeting reporters with beats to increase your chances at garnering coverage for your clients. “Make it your mission to understand who at the station covers what,” Enas said.
Understand what they do. It may sound intuitive, but have a thorough understanding of the media cycle. If a story is breaking, call the stations between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m. If you’re planning a story ahead of time, Aguilar suggests sending a pitch between 10 a.m. and noon. Further, if there’s breaking news, be aware of it and respect the fact the media is in a full-on fire drill and may not be able to speak with you.
Stay tuned for the next post on PCC luncheon takeaways because this panel really means business. The theme? Strictly Business: Behind the Headlines with Chicago’s Leading Business Editors.
Post by: Daniel Cornfield