As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start?
In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!
Director of Communications at Philabundance, Stefanie Arck-Baynes, spoke with Alfred Lubrano, poverty beat writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and shared why a press release just won’t do when pitching him. The following has been edited for clarity and brevity. Photo courtesy: The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Many clients and organizations have “the one” – the one outlet, the one reporter, or the one column in which they want to be featured. Securing that often equals success. At Philabundance, where I‘m the Director of Communications, it’s often the poverty section of The Inquirer, which has been covered by Alfred Lubrano for eight years.
Between you and me, what has been your favorite piece: “I wrote about a former pharmacist who began living in her Mercedes. She was not drug addicted and didn’t have any mental health issues; it’s a story of what could happen to anybody and it showed that poverty isn’t just a them condition”.
The piece not only got 147,000 clicks, but lead to donations and a gofundme site which helped the woman get back on her feet.
Al’s advice to PR professionals for pitching: Don’t forget about your industry outlets and newsletters. About one third of the stories he writes come from pitches, but mostly he generates ideas through reading other outlets covering his beat and newsletters, such as Food Research and Action Center and the People’s Emergency Center.
And don’t forget that you need to offer a person impacted by the story and someone who understands what they’re agreeing to – “That’s the hardest part; you’re asking them extraordinarily personal questions. then you have to ask to use their name — we can’t say a woman in Philadelphia, we need their name, neighborhood, age and photograph,” said Al.
What about press releases? He’s generally not interested in grant/donation press releases from companies that pat themselves on the back for a donation. Lead with the good the donation is doing and focus on the outcome. And don’t forget someone who has been or will be helped by this.
Fun Fact: He recently learned about K-pop from his 15-year-old daughter. “I get more of a kick out of her than anything.”
How to contact Al: Email at firstname.lastname@example.org