Great advice from a PR vet

April 19, 2006 at 3:20 pm (Uncategorized)

I know I haven’t been posting a lot lately, but things have been busy. I have yet another wedding coming up that I have been helping to plan (I’m at the “all of my friends are getting married” stage of my life).

This morning on the Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog, I found this great article spotlighting Gloria Dittus, a well-known and respected PR veteran.

Highlights:

A good PR person is a resource and knows not to waste a journalist’s time. When I talk to journalists, I hear them say they get called by so many people who have no idea what they do, who their readers are or what their publications are about. You can’t succeed in this business by doing that—you can’t succeed by generating stories through press releases, either. Instead, you’ve got to develop good story lines and angles reporters might be interested in. You have to help the reporter build the story. You have to help the reporter develop sources.”

“Once you’re talking to the reporter, ask where she was before. Ask what she’s interested in and where she wants the story to go. Ask, “What angles make sense to you in this story?” You have to have a journalist-to-journalist conversation with them. This actually helps the reporter. It lets you give them information that is more robust, relevant and incisive—so you’re not just a pain-in-the-butt PR person pitching a story. The key is to help the reporter do the reporter’s job.”

Also note her advice for having a great career in PR:

“I tell folks who are just getting into this business to get into a part of the business that they love. If you love what you do, you’ll be successful at it. If you love sports. Do that. If you love policy, get into public affairs. If you love making children smile, then get into marketing to kids. That will lead you down a road to success far faster than just taking any PR job you can get.

“My advice is different for more senior folks. I think it’s really, really important to keep your skills fresh. I say that because I often talk to senior people who say, “I’m tired of pitching media and want to manage.” I think if you don’t keep skills fresh, you can’t be a good manager. If you don’t know what your people are doing day-to-day and if you’re not living it with them, you can’t advise them. So my recommendation is to practice the basic skills of PR—and hand off the knowledge you have to younger staff.”

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1 Comment

  1. Rita Desai said,

    I think some PR people have a hard time keeping the journalist’s needs and journalist’s audience in mind because they think pitching is more of a shot in the dark than it really is. I went to a publicity club luncheon once, a few years ago, where the panel journalists were so critical of PR people because it seemed that they could not take the time to do research.

    My friend, who edits a govt affairs newsletter, gets the most random pitches. I generally share them with the Bad Pitch Blog. They are a laugh riot, poorly (sometimes weirdly) written and targeted to the wrong pubs to boot! Gloria is correct; you really have to be informed about the industry you work in. And you definitely have to care enough about it that you will spend time figuring out how to be a solution to a need.

    Cheers,
    Rita

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