#PPRAsk: 4 Experts on Pitching Lessons from COVID-19

What it meant to be a public relations professional ten years ago is not the same as it is today. Even before a year of “unprecedented times,” PR was shifting from being solely focused on press releases and announcements. Now, these teams are also overseeing social media, influencer marketing, donor and investor messaging, and all other aspects of marketing and communications.

With this shift, the quintessential task of pitching has also evolved. Gone are the days where professionals would mass email a press release to an unfiltered list with hundreds of reporters. Modern public relations professionals need to be nimble and adjusting, with an emphasis on what they’re offering, who they’re pitching to, and why it matters after the pandemic. That’s why we asked some of our members about how their media pitching has changed during the pandemic.

Show, Don’t Tell.

So many of the best practices we’ve always employed became more important than ever during the pandemic,  for instance— building relationships, tailoring narratives, customizing pitches, and serving as a resource – but where we’re seeing the greatest shift and growing level of importance, is around the concept of “show, don’t tell.” It’s no longer just about smart and strategic storytelling, but rather illustrating the narrative in creative ways that capture attention and efficiently deliver the information. This can be done through data and metrics, showcasing results, using strong visuals with an emphasis on video and mixed multimedia, and putting people at the forefront of stories.”

⁠— Allie Seifert, Director of Public Relations at Cashman & Associates

Re-Focusing on the Relations in Media Relations

“Amid a time in which so many were physically isolated or feeling adrift in the uncertainty of the pandemic, I re-prioritized the relations aspect of media relations. I reminded myself the reporter on the receiving end of a pitch also was going through extraordinary circumstances. We all were doing the best we could in our professions and our personal situations despite the chaos of the moment. In normal times we all aim to be a helpful source of stories to reporters, but in 2020 the importance of tailoring pitches and ensuring information was relevant and digestible was reinforced. We recalibrated; not only is this key for achieving business goals, but also it is critical in developing to be a trusted, reliable partner to media contacts.”

⁠— Angelica Flynn, Senior Account Executive at AKCG – Public Relations Counselors

What Do Reporters Really Want?

The pandemic has opened our eyes to the things that work in our society and the extensive list of things that don’t. The same holds true for communicators, we are now seeing that the authentic and relevant pitches are the ones that get responses over the generalized and irrelevant submissions. My biggest change is that I take the time to truly consider what myself and my client care about and what the media professional and their audience will resonate with. We have to really sit back and think about what people want to see and hear as they transition through a pandemic that has changed our lives, in some ways, permanently. As communicators we need to focus our pitches on how this brand/service will help solve a relevant problem and how it will make the media professionals’ audience feel when it comes across their timeline, desk, etc.”

⁠— Jade A. Daniels, M.S., Founder & Owner of Clara Communications Public Relations Agency

Be A Human

“Be a human. Of course this was important pre covid but with everything we have all gone through during the pandemic it is more important than ever to not just reach out to media or a client with a pitch. Reach out just to see how people are doing. Think about those in your own life who have reached out during covid and how that made you feel. That’s memorable. And that’s what builds relationships long term.” 

⁠— Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esquire, CEO of Purposeful Networking

About #PPRAsk

In this new series, we’re asking PPRA’s own pros the questions that matter most. Interested in being included in a roundup? Email Leo at lmanning@slicecommunications.com for more information!

Between You and MEdia…Stephania Jimenez of NBC10

How did you get started as a journalist?

I took a journalism class in high school, wrote for my high school paper, and then became the editor. During college I interned at FOX News Radio network, and got to do interviews and write stories — it was a really hands-on experience.

What was your first paid position?

Working part-time as a writer for a TV news station in Miami; I was straight out of college.

After that, I moved back to New York, and FOX News Radio offered me a job writing and producing. I always new that TV was my goal so I went to the public access TV station in Brooklyn, working on documentaries and my tape. Then I got my first TV gig at NBC in El Paso, Texas. I joined NBC10 in Philadelphia in 2018.

What do you look for in a pitch?

Usually the pitches should tie in to a national story, but offer a local perspective.

In addition to what the story is, I suggest PR folks include the following in their pitches:

  • Suggestion for local experts to interview
  • Include regular people, too. If you’re opening the first clinic in Fishtown helping single moms, we need to hear from a single mom
  • Always look at the angle that makes your story interesting and different than any other story I could be doing
  • Buzzwords: if something is the “first” or “only” that’s really important to note

And it’s not just about the interview(s) – if we’re doing a TV story, think about imagery. What are you offering that is visually striking? Where can we shoot? If reporters/producers don’t have interesting pictures to go along with the story, it’s much harder for us to get it approved.

Is following up with you OK?

If I know you, you can text me to follow up on a pitch. You can also give me a heads up that a pitch is coming.

If I don’t know you, you should try to develop a relationship because we get hundreds of emails a day and if we know each other, I’ll definitely look at yours.

How? Feel free to email me to introduce yourself with some basic info: I’m so and so, I work for this agency, we have a ton of fun stuff coming up, I’d love to chat with you about some ideas — I’ll work around your schedule. Then I’ll reach out when I can.

What are your favorite types of stories to report? 

Health and human interest stories — anything that’s a break from the regular crime stories, like positive things happening in the community.

Can you share a fun and interesting fact about yourself?

I’m a foodie – I especially love Greek food and Texas BBQ,

Contact info


Recap of PPRA Media Panel Program: What’s NEWs in the ‘Burbs & Neighborhoods?

Many thanks to Devon Grosso of Furia Rubel for providing a recap of our recent media panel program: What’s NEWs in the ‘Burbs & Neighborhoods?

We were joined by Jim Walsh, staff writer for the Courier-Post; Len Lear, features editor for the Chestnut Hill Local; Tom Waring, Editor of the Northeast Times; and Marion Callahan, Multimedia Reporter for the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer for a conversation about the changing landscape in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and suburbs and how PR pros can best engage with these media outlets.

Read Devon’s recap.

PPRA Member Monday: Tiffany C. DuBois-Morales

Tiffany C. Dubois-Morales is the Founder and CEO of DuBois Public Relations. She has been a member of PPRA for four years.

Twitter: @TiffanyDuBois6

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tiffany.c.dubois

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiffany-dubois-morales-9b603137/

DuBois Public Relations has been telling the stories of clients for the last two years in a unique and inventive manner. DuBois Public Relations was started by Founder and CEO Tiffany DuBois-Morales after receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from Widener University. I am of the belief that everyone has a story to tell and that DuBois Public Relations is the firm best equipped to tell it. 

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

TDM: Primarily the Nonprofit sector, Artists, musicians, gallery owners. Currently donating 6 months of my time to Nancy’s House. They take care of the many caretakers that give of themselves to their families and friends.  

PPRA: What is the favorite part of your job?

TDM: I love that I get to tell my clients stories. No matter what that story is, everyone should be able to hear it. 

PPRA: What was your latest & greatest accomplishment at your job?

TDM: Working and pitching the food pantry program with Imago Dei Metropolitan community church. 

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

TDM: Remember that at the end of the day you have done your very best to tell your clients story.  

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

TDM: Julie/Julia. I know it came out a while ago but I love to cook and this speaks to what I’m in the middle of doing. 

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

TDM: Rittenhouse square. It’s the location of my first date with my husband. It has been where I’ve always gone to listen to music, view and discuss art and had my engagement photos done.  

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

TDM: Chef and sommelier. I really do love to cook and wine has been a part of my life for many years. 

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

TDM: Steak au poivre at Parc restaurant. It’s always perfectly cooked and I’ve never had to send it back!

PPRA Member Monday: Camille Mola

Camille Mola is the PR and Communications Manager for the Academy of Vocal Arts. She has been a member of PPRA for over a year.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/positivepublicityblog

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/camillemariemola/

Philadelphia native Camille Mola is the PR and Communications Manager of the Academy of Vocal Arts, the world’s only tuition-free institution dedicated exclusively to the study of opera. In addition to this, she is the founder of Positive Publicity Blog, a Philadelphia-based lifestyle blog which covers dining, music, entertainment and more. Her blog has been named a Top 25 Philadelphia Blog by Feedspot for three consecutive years. Positive Publicity has also allowed Camille to take on freelance clients and to enhance her photography side business. She has appeared on podcasts and spoken on panels, and is a member of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s Emerging Leaders Circle. She is a proud 2014 graduate of Penn State Bellisario School of Communications. Camille has been a member of PPRA for over a year.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

CM: As an opera school which is still operating safely during the pandemic, we have completely adapted to virtual performances and learning. My role has now shifted into marketing and promoting our online performances, as well as interacting with the audio/video team. We have three more virtual performances this season, and I’ll be focused on those, as well as continuing to tell our story in new ways! On a personal note, I’ve been taking on more freelance photography clients.  

PPRA: What is the favorite part of your job?

CM: Securing any type of press, social media postings, or other content that is beneficial to our Resident Artists. AVA is currently comprised of 24 young Resident Artists from around the world, who have worked incredibly hard to get to AVA. We want them to flourish in their operatic careers, and being a part of their journey is so rewarding. 

PPRA: What was your latest & greatest accomplishment at your job?

CM: My greatest accomplishment at my job was probably an Inquirer story breaking the news about our 85th Anniversary Gala Concert, which was to be held at The Met Philly. It would have been the first time in over 80 years that opera would be performed on that stage. As you might have guessed, it was cancelled due to COVID. But it will happen in the future!

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

CM: Attend that networking event, panel, whatever it may be – even if you’re going alone. You never know who you might meet and what relationships you’ll form.  

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

CM: Drop Dead Gorgeous is my all-time favorite film. I still remember seeing it on E! when I was younger, and it’s the one movie I’ll always return to (and quote word for word). 

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

CM: Ritual Shoppe on Walnut is my favorite shop. I also love Washington Square Park, and sitting outside there with an iced coffee from Talulah’s Daily.  

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

CM: I would still be working in the arts in some capacity! Perhaps on stage? I LOVE the arts and culture scene in our city, and know I would still find myself working in this world in some way. 

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

CM: The Coconut Curry Noodles from Cheu