By Lauren Scrivo-Harris, PRSA-NJ Member
On November 15, for the first time since the pandemic, the New Jersey chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA NJ), NJ chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and Rutgers chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America hosted a “Meet the Media” event at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Michael Lauer, PRSA NJ President-Elect, moderated a panel of experts from across all media platforms to help public relations professionals and students gain tremendous insight into the best practices to use to gain news coverage and build lasting relationships with journalists.
Panelists – Isaac Avilucea, a reporter from Axios Philadelphia; Tom Bergeron, founder, editor, and co-owner of ROI-NJ; P. Kenneth Burns, South Jersey reporter from WHYY-FM, Philadelphia; Michael Diamond, business reporter with the Asbury Park Press; Joanna Gagis, guest anchor and senior correspondent from NJ Spotlight News/NJ PBS; Nick Hirshon, the associate editor of the journal of American Journalism, associate professor of Journalism at William Paterson University, and former reporter at the New York Daily News; Steve Lubetkin, APR, a fellow of PRSA, managing partner of The Lubetkin Media Companies, and news director at State Broadcast News; Eric Scott, vice president and senior political director at New Jersey 101.5 FM; and Bob Schapiro, executive producer of On The Frontlines – discussed a range of topics, including how to pitch a story and build a relationship with a reporter, information consumption, utilizing various platforms to tell a story, and newsroom operations.
The newsroom is evolving and reporters are doing more than ever before, so PR professionals must utilize their time wisely. To do so, panelists offered invaluable guidance on the art of pitching to capture a reporter’s very limited attention and how to build trust, as well as cautionary tales on what NOT to do. Tips ranged from customizing your pitch to highlight how the story fits the interest and style of the reporter and outlet, writing a winning headline and the proper greeting, and photo usage. They also emphasized a single point: Do your homework – know the reporter, know the outlet, know your subject matter, and be ready to tell your story NOW!
The expansion of media platforms and mobile devices are enabling people to consume more information than ever before and providing more opportunities to tell the same story – short or long written form, 15-second sound bites, social media posts, in-depth analysis, podcasts, and video. Amid a lively discussion on how people consume news, the experts shared differing views on how people have limited attention spans and prefer to read or listen to brief but nuanced stories, while others stressed the importance of knowing your audience to gauge the length of their interest – comparing a quality in-depth story to binge-watching your favorite show.
Panelists also explained how they make minute-by-minute content decisions, maintain objectivity, and capture a story in the new normal of remote interactions.
To learn more tricks of the trade that you can’t get anywhere else, including how to optimize your story and maximize earned media coverage to stand out in your field and advance the message of your company, listen to the full podcast here.