Ask The Expert
Ask The Expert is a new series from Laura Murray Public Relations that calls upon the expertise of arts and marketing specialists to provide insight and wisdom – to all industry professionals that read our blog – on how we can do what we do better. No matter what stage of our career, we are always keen to grow and hone our craft from those in the know.
For this edition of ‘Ask The Expert’, we were fortunate to connect with three highly respected arts & entertainment journalists – whom we have the pleasure of working with on an almost daily basis – and whose compelling copy regularly appears on the pages of The Georgia Straight, The Province, and Metro News. We posed the question: “How can a publicist better anticipate the needs of a journalist? What can we do to make your job easier?”
In return, we were granted with golden nuggets of information – applicable tips that every publicist, no matter how seasoned, should keep top-of-mind at the start, middle, and close of every successful media relations campaign.
The Georgia Straight
“All a publicist needs to do to make me happy is let me know that they are top of things when I first make contact.
My favourite publicists are the ones that are quick to respond when I ask if an artist is available for an interview, and who then promptly gets busy setting up the interview.
With some publicists, I have to send two or three “Did you get this” emails before I finally get a response. Some don’t respond at all, which is funny considered they have often sent out a blanket “Do you want to interview this band…..” email in the first place.
So, long story short, get back to me when I contact you, and then please get me an answer as to whether or not you can help me do my job.”
“Know my beat. I get so many shotgunned pitches that aren’t even close to what I regularly cover. Some of them aren’t even sure what media organization I’m currently working for, though I’ve worked for a bunch so I understand the confusion.
It’s important to learn the writer’s name (seems obvious, I know – but “Dear Arts Reporter” isn’t the best intro), and the types of stories he/she covers.
Personalize your pitches. Give me a hook. Don’t just tell me – sell me. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to follow up on a pitch. It’s much easier for a journo to ignore an email than a phone call. Very few PR people are keen to pick up a phone. Probably because very few journos are keen to pick up the phone. Regardless, a well-organized, interesting pitch (with easy access to images and other media) makes my job that much easier. But don’t get the idea that my job is easy. Because it’s totally not. (*eats doughnut*)”
“Aside from the obvious – correct information presented very clearly in terms of date, time, venue, address (so often forgotten) and ticket/info prices and contacts – the most key thing in today’s digital media world is timing. With multi-platform coverage and across the board staff reductions, reporters need more lead time for the sort of slow build stories such as previews, features and reviews. Turning around breaking news on the spot on multiple platforms is top priority, so coming in too late can mean getting no coverage or very little as the space and staff is taken already. Be on top of publication deadlines, seasonal previews and so forth or risk getting bumped for a priority news story/video/broadcast.”