TV Station VP’s Advice to PR Pros: “Don’t Pitch”
Last night I attended a public relations seminar at the WUSA Channel 9 Station in Washington,DC. The topic du jour was digital media and making the transition, but as it was a roomful of PR pros in a televison statio, questions naturally came up about pitching television producers in a digital world.
It’s no secret that newsrooms are shrinking. In December the Washington Post reported on WUSA9’s new approach to multimedia journalism; deploying anchors equipped with digital cameras, camcorders, and video editing equipment. This approach has been met with praise and criticism; but it still begs a question: how can PR pros successfully function in this new multimedia environment?
I found the comments of Khalim Piankhi, Vice President of Community Relations for WUSA9 to be extraordinarily spot-on. To sum up Piankhi’s thoughts, don’t pitch producers.
This may seem counterintuitive to public relations professionals, but the media industry is changing, which absolutely affects the way we work with media organizations. How do they liked to be approached? What are their preferences?
Piankhi says news organizations like his don’t particularly care about your client. They care about their audience. He suggests that instead of thinking of how you can get yourself or your client in the news, think how you can help a news organization meet its objectives. At the end of the day, news organizations need the most relevant content to keep their audience, and if a big story breaks they will be searching for content to pump out to their consumers.
So instead of thinking a pitch, think relationships, he went on to say. Frame yourself as a resource to a news organization. Check in from time to time. Send background materials. Keep your issue on the back burner-close enough that when that major story breaks bringing your issue to the fore, the producer will reach for the phone and call you.
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