Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All You PR Practitioners Out There: Speak to Me

A student writes:

Greetings Professor!

Judging from facebook, looks like you're having quite the summer!

My internship has asked me to look into how ideas are pitched to the

media (tv, newspaper, radio, magazines), to find out how exactly

pitches work for these different media outlets. Do press packets come

across an editors desk? Or is that something used more for television?

Or maybe it doesn't work this way and I'm on the wrong track. If a

business wanted to get into a newspaper, what would be the best way to

approach it? If they do use press packets or something similar, would

it be possible to get a sample somewhere?

And I write back:

Hmmm. Back in the day we got a bucketful of mail from PR folk, etc. every morning. Editors would get the same volume times twenty, since so many PR folk compiled big lists and then hit everyone on the list, some of whom had been dead for years. It's my understanding that today it's done primarily by email -- and, of course, personal contact. Also, ace USF grad Doug Madey -- the Will Farrell character in Stepbrothers was based on him -- tells me that Twitter has an increasingly important role in all this, as reporters follow PR guys and PR guys follow reporters, thereby enabling PR guys to pitch piecemeal, to target more effectively. But I'm just pulling this out of ... the air. I'll copy this to several of the top brains of my acquaintance and see what they say.

One last thing. If you were a powerful enough press type, the smart PR folk went to the trouble of working out a specific pitch, a story just for you. You figured out pretty quickly how to identify a letter to you that was not mass produced. Today with email .... I have no idea how reporters and editors screen, given the fact email makes mindless "shotgunning" so much easier to do. I'm guessing personal relationships have become even more important.


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