Working With A Strategic Journalist

Another important element of my PR Retreat is the opportunity to work with the strategic journalist ie. Me!

I’m often referred to in my sector as a PR/Journo hybrid.

I bring something unique to the table, having worked in journalism as a crime reporter and then business editor, I moved into television, working there for 13 years before setting up my own PR business. I’m still a working journalist today mainly for the local business press as there are only so many hours in a day! Having had a foot in several camps, I can recognise the stories and people that the media are interested in and this is where my strength lies.

My areas of expertise marry together to support my clients, and during the retreat, I am going to share my knowledge and experience with you too.

I will help you plan your stories and recognise the proactive ones that are suitable for local and regional media.

Ten things you’ll get from me:

  1. Lots of questions to draw out stories. I will ask you searching questions about the why, what, how of the story to find out if it is relevant and strong enough to pitch to the media. Being vague about aspects of the story won’t help, and you have to be open to sharing. Stories that appear interesting to you, may not necessarily be of interest to the general public.
  1. Honest appraisal of the ‘status’ of that story – local, regional, blog post or social media? You will learn that not every story is media acceptable. You will also learn that you sometimes have to curtail your expectations of the standing of your story – it may work far better as a social media post, rather than the headline you are hoping for.
  1. Timing of stories – when might that story work best in the year? Knowing what is happening in the world around you, particularly with reference to your type of business, is important. Some stories work well in certain seasons of the year; if there are major events taking place in the year, your business may have a product, or a service that would be needed to support that event. Are there major new developments in your industry that you know the media would be interested in?  Look ahead and plan ahead.
  1. How to create stories around your business? How to do ‘stuff’ to make the media interested in you and your business. You might be celebrating business birthdays – being in business for 10 years. You might have just taken on new premises and employed a number of local people in your business. Supporting a charity in the local community, or nationally, and challenging yourself and business colleagues to take part in a sporting or some other event to raise a large amount of money, or buying books or computers for local schools. These things will most likely work for local media. For national media, you need to be discussing much bigger issues, and be seen to be engaging with others, including journalists interested in your type of story.
  1. We’ll talk pictures and why they are important. We all recognise the saying ‘people buy from people’, and in the same way, when we read in the newspaper, or watch the TV news, we like to see the person being talked about. In business it is vital to have professional images of both yourself, and if you are photographing your team after raising money for charity, the team and charity members.  The media will often choose your story over stories without images. We love to see photos and images, just look at social media! However, a photo taken on your smartphone won’t hack it at a time you need to look professional, although for online media, you may get away with those images.
  1. We’ll talk video and how to use it to your advantage – no one will get away with saying they don’t want to do video. Video is becoming equally important to images, if not more so, on some online platforms. If you are serious about PR and wanting to appear in the media, you have to embrace video and get over yourself!
  1. We’ll talk how to react to the media. You have to remember that the media expect instant response. If you are asked to do something for them, to say, ‘ooh, I can’t manage that time, can you contact me at….’ won’t cut it. They have many other people they could ask rather than you, and they won’t wait for you to check your diary. By replying immediately, and taking part, you are quite likely to be asked back when they are looking for comment about your particular field of business in the future. By engaging with them as people, having conversations with them, and being willing to help, they will remember you.
  1. We’ll talk about what questions to ask national journalists and the right language. Always be respectful to journalists. Never tell them you have sent out the same info to several other journalists! Look at the language they use and respond using the same.  You might want to ask them where the information you share is going to be used; If there are personal aspects you wouldn’t want to share, make sure you ask about their use early on, so as not to waste the journalist’s time. If you are writing part of an article for them, ask for the deadline, and ensure you return your work by that deadline, and not late! Don’t be frightened to say ‘no’, but explain why, because if they like the way you have connected with them, they may come back to you again.
  1. We’ll talk about when to send blog post instead of press releases. Sometimes you don’t need a press release, a link to a blog post sharing your views or your expertise may be enough. Eg. If you’ve done a blog about five ethical Easter eggs at Easter time, just send that to the local media. If it’s a slow news time they may pick up on it.
  1. We’ll talk contacts and my little ‘black book’ will be open for one weekend only. I have contacts that I have built up over the years I’ve been working in the media. My clients have access to those contacts, in the sense, that I put clients in touch with the right media person for their story. On this weekend you are going to have access to my contacts whether you are a client or not – which is a huge opportunity.

If you haven’t booked your place yet, there is still time to book onto the Retreat, but there are limited spaces: