Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brands And Bloggers Summit Recap - Catching Traditional Media’s Air Waves – Beyond Press Releases

As bloggers, the majority of bloggers have received pitches for all sorts of things. Personally, I also receive a ton of PR press releases from news organizations looking to have me promote their new product or event or ... something. But that can go both ways, especially in the news business. I was actually just asked to do a segment for a local news show - that I turned down because I had to be in their studio in the city at 5:15am. But when you have your chance to be in front of the camera or you have a pitch for a news organization, you want to do it right. Nancy Loo (@NancyLoo) from WGN in Chicago presented her tips on getting the attention of news organizations at the Brands and Bloggers Summit on Saturday.

You have your online "face" - have a professional profile picture. Don't use inappropriate images. Don't use inappropriate language. Whenever you're pitching something, she wants to see who you are, not your brand not your logo. She wants to deal with you face to face.

A journalist is so accessible. nloo *at* tribune d*t com - you can find them easily through social media. Email them first. Social media is a good way to do it. Call but only if you must. She hates voicemail and hasn't checked it in probably a week. She is a field reporter and doesn't even go to her office many days and won't touch base with the phone while she's out of the office. The stories pitched on voicemail tend to be the traditional sources that aren't stories she would cover, so she tends to ignore them.

Once she makes that connection and knows that there is a good source, she'll give you her cell. Developing a relationship is key. You can develop relationships with local journalists. They are on Twitter; they have a website with reporters listed. There are always "contact us" links through news websites. Use those avenues. Once you establish yourself as a source, you'll be turned to when there's news.

Where can you find journalists?
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram
News websites - share your content and become a source
List yourself at HARO - Help a Reporter Out (and list your niche) - list yourself there, even more specific than HARO

In news meetings, they ask: Is this topic a talker? Will people talk about it? That's the goal.

Is it news? How do you know?
Is it timely?
Is it unique and interesting?
Is there online credibility?
Don't waste anyone's time. Your kids are really cute, but is it news? There are tons of bands that go every year. What's a unique angle to make it news?
Don't be offended - there are so many

Address who you're pitching to. Research that person - say Hi Nancy, not just something that looks like it's a generic pitch going out to everyone. Include a personal connection to show that you know who you're talking to.

What to Wear if you're being interviewed?
Don't go crazy - don't go buy a new wardrobe, go do a pedicure (your feet won't be on tv!), don't pile on a ton of makeup. Primary colors look great on tv. Don't do lots of prints or anything that's going to distract people from listening to what you say. You want people to recognize you and not be completely done up. You don't need to do a huge hairstyle updo, etc. Don't distract people away from your message - the Notre Dame tie where the viewer now starts thinking about who he knows who went to Notre Dame instead of what you're saying.

What To Say
Do not over rehearse before a television crew comes to your house. Through the years, I've noticed that people who do get stuck with what you're going to say can be helped with a reference card with bullets. If you know your stuff, however, you don't need anything because you know it. That's the ideal situation. Don't deliver a speech, rehearsing with your husband the night before. Then you won't be answering the question Nancy asks you but will instead go off on your speech. The natural reaction that happens in a conversation is genuine and that's what makes a good interview. Humor and keywords make things memorable. It lightens the load when there's humor.

Webcam Glam
Now more and more news organizations use webcams and google hangouts, so it's almost like a roundtable discussion live on the air - yay budget cuts. If there are no crews available, you can pitch yourself as available via Skype; it's almost like there's no excuses then, although the camera crew still has to get into the control room to record it because of union regulations.

You want to look good then. You want a contrasting background. Don't put yourself against a wall unless you want to look like you've just been arrested. The google hangout feature is great because it gives you an idea of what you look like before you go live. You want a laptop off your lap. You want to shoot down at yourself and not up at your chin. The most flattering shot is slightly above your face. Get your laptop higher! You also want the station to see you and think that you look good and they want to use you again.
No one is going to see the lighting. You need light on your face, which will set you apart from the background - a desk lamp works just fine.

Don't have a white background.

Connect already!
If Nancy is your first connection in the media, that's fine. It's all about connections, and she's connected to others. She knows a lot of journalists. If you want to talk about organic foods, Nancy doesn't cover it, but she knows who does. Or you can search out the person who does talk about it on Twitter or elsewhere. Be resourceful and think about how you can reach through and push your niche.

How do you deal with the we want your content from news media, but don't want to pay?
The news media won't pay. If you don't want to do it, someone else will. It's free content and plenty of people who are willing to share for nothing or for clicks. Nancy doesn't foresee anyone contributing and making money from it. If you aren't interested in this part of it, then just don't do it.

Here's hoping this is useful to you - and that you need to take advantage of it. One more session from Miss Lori tomorrow, chock full of acrostic poems.

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Laura July 22, 2011 at 2:31 AM  

Holy Smoke girl! thats a LOT of information you soaked up :) woooh I'm wondering if you'l do this at BlogHer in SD?
Also what parties are you going to? Tons of invites over here, so much to choose from.

She'sWrite July 24, 2011 at 11:56 PM  

Wow, thanks for the recap! I didn't attend, so even though I was a journalist for 12 years, it's neat (and helpful!) to see how others talk about pitching to us. :)

Lisa July 26, 2011 at 11:15 AM  

Wow. Sounds like you got a lot out of that conf. Very cool.

septembermom July 27, 2011 at 7:17 AM  

Thanks Michelle for sharing all this good information. I love the "help a reporter out" idea.

Michelle July 31, 2011 at 11:46 AM  

Laura - Ummm yeah. Lots of info, and I'm hoping to do it at BlogHer, too. It's the only way I can keep it straight in my head! Still figuring out where I'm going when. But I WILL track you down :)

She'sWrite - It is interesting to see the perspectives from all sides, isn't it?

Lisa - I did. It was a good conference, and I love that it was local!

Kelly - Fun, isn't it? I think that one would be right up your alley!

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