Media Relations from a Journalist’s Perspective — An Interview with Leslie Friday

For a media relations class assignment, I interviewed Leslie Friday, BU Today and Bostonia magazine staff writer. Before she came to BU Today, she served as a journalist for several newspapers such as the Brookline TAB and the Tico Times, in Costa Rica. The interview contributed to several media relations tips that may concern our PR pros-to-be. Here are some of the things that she had to say during our interview.

author-leslie

What makes a good story?

  • Unusual and compelling topics
  • Timeliness
  • Relation to your audience
  • Applicable to broader contexts

Which part of working with PR practitioners makes you feel good?

  • When PR people pitch great story ideas
  •  “We sometimes enjoyed working with each other.”

Which part of working with PR practitioners annoys and frustrates you?

  • “When a crime/bad news happened, a PR person didn’t return my call/email, or simply provided useless response.”
  • PR people sometimes are uncooperative and even antagonistic.

Anything that a PR professional can do to make your life easier?

  • “Answer my questions thoroughly and as quickly as possible, in the first time.”
  • Be honest.
  • “When anything comes up, please let me know. I can write a story about it and help people know. Let’s help each other out.”
  • “Follow what you promised.”

What makes a good pitch?

  • Subject line should “Have a story idea and don’t get too wordy.”
  • Be concise and show the most interesting part of the story in the beginning.
  • Interesting/new/unique, which “hooks me, makes me want to know more.”
  • Timeliness is important, yet again.
  • Pitch to the right person: research about the journalist, know his/her preferences.
  • “When pitching to mainstream media like the Boston Globe, it’s usually more difficult to get attention, so you must have a strong story and make it unique and more polished.”
  • “Keep pitching. You need persistence.”

Any advice for writing a valuable news release?

  • Include the most important information in the first paragraph— the five W’s and one H. Remember to tell the journalist why it is important.
  • Be concise.
  • “Read several times before you send it. Don’t repeat.”
  • Include contact info and different ways to get in touch.
  • Include a boilerplate at the bottom — with information about the company.

What qualities should a PR pro have?

  • PR is people relations. You should know how to work with people.
  • Have good event planning skills.
  • Communication skills: have everything well written in advance and strong verbal skills.
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About Debra Zhang

Second-year PR graduate student at Boston University's College of Communication. Love folk music, reading and meditation.

Posted on February 14, 2012, in Careers, Public Relations and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.

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