By Elizabeth Bacheson
Public relations professionals hate pitching. Reporters, editors and writers hate being pitched. But here we are, driving each other crazy day after day anyway. How can we stop that?
On Wednesday, March 30 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Sharp Edge Bistro downtown, members of PRSA Pittsburgh and Online News Association (ONA) Pittsburgh joined forces for a no-pitch, no sell night of talking and learning from each other, or having a drink and getting to know each other!
Upon arriving, attendees were encouraged to share their questions or suggestions on slips of paper (or via the #PRSAONA hashtag) on what can be improved or should be avoided when working with either PR professionals or members of the media. This would serve as the basis of a moderated discussion later in the evening.
After mingling with fellow attendees over drinks and appetizers, PRSA Pittsburgh President Steve Radick who serves as VP, director of public relations and content integration at Brunner; and ONA’s Kim Lyons, news editor at NEXT Pittsburgh; held an interactive discussion to break down the barriers that PR professionals and members of the media may encounter when working together. And so we can take some advice from each other!
The topics and questions submitted spurred a great dialogue that offered some hilarious, truthful insights from both PR professionals and members of the media. Some included:
- What’s your favorite and least favorite parts of working with PR professionals?
- The fine line between persistence and badgering when it comes to pitching a reporter.
- Get the reporter’s name right when pitching.
- Should a PR professional formally thank the reporter after running a positive story about their client?
- Crisis scenarios: If a PR person’s client isn’t available during a crisis, make sure you give the media the right point person.
- What’s newsworthy? It’s the reporter’s job to judge that. PR professionals should have honest conversations with their client about what is a story and what isn’t. Taking it to a reporter will just burn bridges.
- You’re not doing a client any favors by shopping around a story that no one will be interested in.
The evening ended with a discussion on empathy. PR professionals have a job to do and so to members of the media, but we need to help each other out in order to do that. Enough said!
Elizabeth Bacheson currently serves as PRSA Pittsburgh’s Programming Director and social media communicator at Westinghouse Electric Company in Cranberry Twp., PA where she oversees corporate social media activities, including strategy and content creation to ensure alignment across social media accounts globally.