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.
What makes a good story?
- Unusual and compelling topics
- 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.