Between You and MEdia… with John McDevitt

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!


There’s nothing like a great broadcast interview to impress a client, but it’s easier said than done, right? Landing a story and satisfying both client and reporter takes careful planning. Veteran PR pro Bev Volpe of Snap 2 Marketing/PR talked with KYW Newsradio General Assignment Reporter and co-host of KYW’s “Beer & Booze Broz” podcast,  John McDevitt, about how forethought and teamwork can make all the difference. The following has been edited for clarity and brevity. Photo courtesy: John McDevitt

john.mcdevit

KYW’s John McDevitt has been in the industry for 29 years.

What do you like most about being a general assignment reporter? “I’ve done everything from ducking bullets, to reporting on baked goods to interviewing celebrities. I love not knowing what each day will bring, asking the unexpected questions and turning that into a piece that’s creative and unique.  Telling someone’s story is a big responsibility–they give you something of themselves and I respect that.”

You’ve told tons of stories over the years. Between you and me, what one was most personally gratifying? “It would have to be the Duck Boat incident that took the lives of two Hungarian tourists back in 2010. Remember, this was before everyone was on Twitter. Back then, our studios were at 4th and Market, so I literally ran to Penn’s Landing and was first on the scene. I got there as they were pulling people out of the water and went live talking to passengers about how they scrambled for their lives. It was very emotional. What was most memorable to me was how everyone at KYW pulled together to bring the story to our listeners in the most professional way possible.”

What do you wish PR pros would tell their clients more often? “Be ready now. We’re not a 9 to 5 business and when there’s a news hole to fill, it has to happen right away.  By tomorrow we’re not interested and your client just lost a great opportunity.”

What’s your best advice for PR professionals? “You put in hours of work to land a story, but your work doesn’t end once a reporter gets the green light. Think through all the elements—what do we have permission to photograph and who can we talk to and why?  We each have a job to do; you know what your client wants and we know what our news organization wants. It’s a partnership with give and take. Have possibilities, but don’t try and control us.”

How many pitches do you get a day? “Somewhere between 10 and 20. The best boil it down to this is what I have, this is how it’s unique and this is why this it’s newsworthy.”

Favorite spot to think through a story: Walking around the streets of Philadelphia.

Fun fact: John used to be on a paranormal investigation team.

Best way to pitch John: Email him at john.mcdevitt@kywnewsradio.com

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