Be a PR Star: Bright ideas to help you shine

By Ellen M Fruchtman, Director of Public Relations for Mud Pie

Imagine that you are a television producer or news editor. You need unique stories that appeal to your audience.  Deadlines loom, you can’t see past tomorrow’s show, your phone rings constantly and you receive hundreds of emails each day.  You wish someone would just send you news you can use– something timely, relevant, newsworthy– NOT an advertisement.
Media seekers make a monumental mistake when they focus on themselves rather than the STORY.  Learn to think like an editor and you’ll become a brilliant, “go-to” source for your local news.
Become a student of the media in your market
Understand the stories your local media covers.   Listen to the radio, watch the morning shows, note which reporters cover events or fashion.  Once you understand what they cover and how they cover it, you are ready to develop your “pitch.”
Think like a reporter when you develop your pitch
What makes your story news?  What photo opportunities are available?  Why is this relevant to their readers or viewers?
Let’s take Mother’s Day as an example.
  • What makes your story news?  Maybe you are doing a Mother- Daughter tea and fashion presentation. Proceeds will benefit a local organization to fund a specific project.  Tell the story!
  • Why is it relevant?  Focus on what your event will do.  For example, it is an opportunity for moms to spend special time with their daughters.  Find stories to tell.  Maybe you have a customer who recently returned from military service and has missed these meaningful moments.  Pitch the story of your customer—suddenly you have a human interest piece instead of an advertisement for your store.
  • Who can be photographed?   Paint a verbal picture.  Who are the models – community notables with their daughters or grandchildren? Will representatives from the local charity be available for interviews?   Describe the fashions in dazzling detail.
  • And don’t leave off the When and Where.  Be specific about the time of the event and the agenda; give details and include details on where to park.
Be user friendly
Reporters work on deadline, so be easy to reach and respond quickly.  If they can’t reach you, they will move on to the next source.  Have printed materials available that explain the event and list any speakers or celebrity models.  Make sure they know where to reach you for any follow-up questions later in the day.
Know who to contact:
If you know a reporter that covers stories like yours, it is best to contact them directly. Other appropriate contacts:
Weekly community newspaper:  The Editor (or in some cases the Publisher)
Daily Newspaper:   The Features Editor for fashion or society events, or the Business Editor for stories that have economic impact, like a store opening.
Television or Radio Stations:  The News Assignment Editor or Assignment Desk
Calendar Listings are often a “do-it-yourself” exercise.  Look for a link on the media outlet’s website and take advantage of controlling the content of your listing.
Follow up
Many community papers will accept photographs if they are not able to attend an event.   If you submit photos, do so promptly and be sure to include a caption with the (correctly spelled) names of those pictured.
When a reporter or editor covers your story, take the time to thank them with a note or an email.  A simple thank you goes a long way in nurturing ongoing relationships.