The Rise of PR Pro and Reporter Relations
PR professionals and reporters all have the same goal: generating high-quality earned media pieces that prove useful to their publics.
So, why do these groups of communications pros struggle so intensely in seeing eye-to-eye? It only makes sense that each stakeholder group should be able to communicate with the other in a healthy and productive way.
Propel Journalist and Content Specialist Shanna Fuld made it a point to begin unpacking this disconnect. Fuld welcomed WCBS Anchor and Reporter Lisa Rozner and PR and marketing firm Antenna Health SVP Sharon Golubchik to a live discussion about how each professional feels when they communicate with ‘the other side.’
Let’s begin by learning from Rozner’s quadruple P– some of her biggest pet peeves about PR pitching…
Reporter Pet Peeves of PR Pitching
Lisa Rozner said she works with a PR person roughly once a week with her role as a local news reporter and anchor. She does her best to be responsive and productive in putting stories together with PR pros, but she faces a few pet peeves in managing these relationships that can significantly hinder the progress of an effective news piece:
More often than you might expect, Rozner receives story pitches that are all wrong before she can make it to the first sentence. In the live session, she explained how many people spell her name wrong in their pitches!
From her side, she sees this as more of an issue than basic hastiness or a quick mistake. This goes further to show a lack of respect and a bit of a red flag that the sender probably did not do their research about the news she reports on and much more.
Long Cold Emails
“I’m not opposed to the cold email,” Rozner said, “but I can tell when someone has taken the time to look at my work.”
Cold emails often look like they were sent to about 10 million people, she said. And she has unfortunately found this to be completely true! On multiple occasions, Rozner found out that she received a story pitch that the PR person also sent, without changes, to multiple other reporters in her company.
Beyond the lack of personalization, Rozner believes cold emails tend to be much longer than what seems necessary to effectively communicate a story idea and its angle.
And after an overflow of content, cold emails sometimes lack a story angle altogether, which naturally makes it much harder for a reporter to sift through the content and arrive at a strong news piece.
This becomes particularly challenging when, as a television news reporter, many pitches Rozner receives lack any sort of visual element, making it nearly impossible to help a PR person land their story.
PR Pro Pet Peeves of Media Relations
Golubchik said her team spends the majority of its days working with journalists.
She prides herself in steering clear of the impersonal, unhelpful style of pitching that bothers Rozner. She focuses on treating reporters like friends or colleagues and prioritizes both personalization and mutual respect in the pitching process.
“Personalization is key,” she said.
Just like Rozner, however, Golubchik faces her own set of frustrations with certain aspects of media relations. The biggest struggle being:
A common dynamic Golubchik is frustrated by: when a reporter engages with a story idea, requests more information, and then goes silent. She explained that she understands and respects if a reporter changes their mind about covering a story, but that it means a lot to receive a response indicating such changes regardless.
The key is clear communication, whether it be to cover a story or not, she said.
Pitching Best Practices from Comms Pros
Now, let’s dive into the solution element of this discussion.
After Rozner shed light on many of the real issues she faces with PR pitches on a weekly basis, the three PR pros engaged in a brainstorm session to reveal answers to these concerns and many related disconnects that arise in the industry at large.
Here are five golden pieces of advice that Fuld, Rozner and Golubchik agree that all communications professionals should incorporate into their their craft:
- Treat ‘the other side’ as people: show respect and be personal.
- Do your research.
- Serve as a resource.
- Communicate clearly and concisely.
- Focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship.