Between You and MEdia… with Marc Narducci

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!


Marc Narducci has been a Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter since 1983, offering stories, videos, photos & commentary mainly on the 76ers & Temple football. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic he has shifted some of his reporting to news and The Upside – the Inquirer’s newest section which celebrates good news, good stories and the very best of the Greater Philadelphia region. Marc is a passionate storyteller whose love for his craft and this region shine through in his reporting. Learn from PPRA member Melissa Fordyce on how he got this start, how he likes to be pitched and the favorite story he’s covered. Photos courtesy of Marc Narducci.

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How did you get started as a journalist?
I first started out as a reporter for a local newscast in cable TV while I was still in college in 1979. I stayed there for five years, but while there, I realized that I better become a little more versatile so through contacts I was able to do some freelance sports stories for the Courier Post and a few for The Inquirer. When The Philadelphia Inquirer debuted a South Jersey section in 1984, I was hired. It wasn’t full-time but back then there was an unlimited freelance budget, so I was working full-time hours. I didn’t become full-time until 1997.

Who/what inspired you to pursue journalism and what keeps you inspired?
I just always had a love for sports and wanted to report on it whether electronically or for print. Over the years I have done a lot of small cable TV sports stuff such as covering games, sports shows, etc. I just always wanted to have a career where I was covering sports and for the most part that is how it has been. Now due to the coronavirus, I have been also writing news (until the games return) and that has also been interesting. It is not my comfort zone but have met a lot of good people and have done several different types of stories from straight news to features.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
The fact that I am covering something I love and get to tell the story. It’s always said that no two days are the same. I wouldn’t go that far, but there is so much different that occurs. Each story presents its own new challenge. I especially like covering a team on a day to day basis, because you become so familiar with the participants and the subject.
 

What’s your favorite story that you’ve worked?
I just finished a 12-part series on the 76ers 12 most memorable playoff games, which is still running now. The reason I enjoyed it was I went back and interviewed players and coaches and learned so much that I didn’t know about many of these famous games. Some of the information I had never read before and that is always good to uncover new information and it was fascinating to see how well people remembered events that in some cases were more than 50 years ago.

Take us through your story process – What elements do you look for?
Where do you start? You always look for a hook. The story we always ask is why should this story be published. What about it makes it worth pursuing. When you are covering a team on a day to day basis, you are often doing the news of the day, although you are always looking for a different slant to a story everybody else is covering. When doing a feature, then you want to really say, what makes this story worth publishing.

We get pitched on a lot of stories with similar themes, so we are always looking for what makes this story stand out. For instance, while working for The Inquirer’s Upside section, we get pitched on so many people doing good things for charity. That should never be discounted, but then we look at what makes this story so unique. Maybe it is something that they are doing different. Maybe it is the individual who has a good and unique story. But we always look beyond just the nuts and bolts of a story and look to see what will make it stand out.

How do you work with PR professionals?
I love working with PR professionals because for the most part, they know what we need. The really good ones know how to pitch a story, know our needs and can deliver us the people we need to talk to. That is the most important thing. Not only getting a good story but getting the people who can talk about it in an interesting way. You know within a few minutes of a phone call or even from reading an email if a PR professional is sharp.

What advice would you give PR professionals looking to pitch you?
Read the product you are pitching to. Don’t pitch me a story that ran in yesterday’s paper. Also have a little idea about the work the reporter you are pitching to does. The more effective pitches come from people who are not just cold calling but have a familiarity with what we do and possibly the type of stories we need.

How many pitches do you get a day from PR folks? Since working for the Upside section, it has increased to probably several a day, but that is fine. The hardest thing is to say no to somebody. One thing I do is I will pitch every story idea I get unless I think it has no chance to succeed. For instance, if we have done a story or even several on a topic I pitch, I will tell the PR person that it isn’t likely that it will be used.  

How do you prefer to be pitched? What is the best way to make a pitch stand out?
I like email. Everything is outlined there and plus you have a record of it. I keep a file of all the stories I am pitched and it is easy to do it that way. Also, I like the people who even if I turn them down, that they come back with more ideas.

Favorite local sports hero – past or present?
Always loved Hank Aaron. I thought he is the most underrated sports superstar and love the way he still carries himself today with so much dignity.

Favorite game or sports story you’ve covered?
IMG_5140The Eagles 41-33 win over New England in Super Bowl LII. I was in Minnesota the entire week doing pre-game stories and it was exciting to be part of our coverage. I normally don’t do this, but after the game and long after I had filed my story, I went down on the field and had my photo taken there. Normally I remain neutral. I don’t root for teams, I root for no injuries and a good storyline, but the fact that it was the Eagles first Super Bowl title and to be part of it was pretty special.

Favorite spot to think through a story?
My kitchen. That is where I do most of my work. I take phone calls, write the stories right here. The only problem is when my wife runs the microwave, then it gets a little hard to hear, but other than that, it’s my spot.

The best way to reach Marc: mnarducci@inquirer.com

Discussing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Public Relations and Beyond

PPRA DEI Event

PHOTO: Queen Muse during PPRA’s DE&I webinar on June 30.

 

On Tuesday, June 30, David W. Brown, Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean at Temple University, led a discussion with Queen Muse, Digital Contributor for Philadelphia Magazine, and Sabrina Ram, Founder and President of Blu Lotus, about the meaning of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DE&I) in the workplace.

The discussion builds on ongoing conversations around companies’ responsibility to be advocates for diverse communities. Queen and Sabrina emphasized the undeniable value of diversity and offered the following actionable tips to help PR professionals integrate DE&I into their lives, corporate culture, and counsel.

Be authentic and actionable, not performative.

When crafting statements, leaders should strive for authenticity by speaking about what they know to avoid hollow messaging. The statement should be transparent, noting any past missteps or shortcomings the company may have had—even if they make them look bad—as reflecting on the past is necessary to mapping out the path forward. Calling out injustice or inequity should become second nature for companies that are truly looking to evolve.

Educate yourself.

It’s impossible for white individuals to truly understand what people of color have withstood, but it is possible for them to educate themselves on their plights, interests, opinions, and more by reading their stories, listening to Ted Talks, and studying history. Queen stressed that education is key to understanding diversity, and it will inherently guide authentic messaging.

Make sacrifices to make room.

Organizations must invite diverse talent into the room and offer them a seat at the executives’ table. Majority leaders should willingly step aside and invite a person of color to fill their position to broaden the company’s perspective and deliver impactful messages to their diverse audiences—especially in a city as diverse as Philadelphia. Hiring managers should look outside of their immediate circle by consulting organizations that cultivate pools of brilliant, diverse talent, and those without hiring power should be willing to speak up and ask what the company is doing to increase diversity.                                

Amplify diverse voices.

Hiring people of color to positions of power fosters diversity, but diversity is not enough. They should be empowered to speak and drive decision making so that their voices, perspectives, and creativity can be heard and can trickle down throughout the company. Sabrina noted that to keep the momentum going, we should highlight companies that are doing DE&I right so that others can learn from them.

Hold yourself accountable.

The conversation surrounding DE&I has been bubbling to the surface for decades, but 2020 is the time for change. Ambiguous statements are no longer acceptable. All of us need to set goals to foster DE&I however we are able, and we need to hold ourselves, and our companies, accountable by pairing each goal with a deadline, routinely evaluating progress, and seeing each goal to the finish line.

Look out for more PPRA programming around these important issues as the discussion continues to evolve, because this is not the end of the conversation, but rather the beginning of long-lasting change.

-By PPRA member Jamie Shore

Video from Home: Top Videography Tips from a Pro

On Thursday, May 28, PPRA members were treated to a master class on videography.   Ricky Haldis founded Wise Owl Multimedia, a photography and videography company, in 2015. A proud Philadelphia native and storyteller at heart, Ricky has worked with PPRA and many of its members to craft visuals that resonate. He graduated from Holy Family University in 2016 with a bachelor’s in Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia.

Haldis, a friend of PPRA, shared best practices designed to help clients look their best on camera and, most importantly, achieve their communication goals

Prepare people to be as simple as possible”

It all comes down to simplicity. A concept that should be quite familiar to public relations professionals who exist to help a client’s message shine through, not to show the world how many fancy words they know. Ricky believes the same is true when it comes to video. 

The fundamentals count”

Keeping three concepts front of mind will lead you to success: how the video is shot (pick a small, quiet room with a simple background), how the video is lit (soft light is preferred – avoid direct sunlight and backlighting), and how the video sounds (to achieve best sound quality use a lapel mic. Furniture, carpet, and wall coverings dampen sound to prevent echo). 

Video is entirely psychological”

All video producers are ultimately seeking the “the brain’s approval.” Planning carefully, ensuring the message is on brand and putting the end goal in writing helps the client win the ever-elusive audience “approval.”

Genuine, organic and natural”

Ricky ended the webinar by empowering attendees to create professional looking videos on their own. With a modest investment of time and money, quality videos that present our clients well and help connect with audiences are within reach.

– By PPRA member Jill Flanagan

Between You and MEdia… with Molly Given

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!


Over the past three years, Molly Given has established herself as one of Philadelphia’s go-to voices in the media for events, entertainment news and beyond. As a Features Editor for Metro Philadelphia Newspaper, Molly’s life-long passion for writing and meeting new people shines through in her content. Learn more about the person behind the page and discover how best to share your news with Molly in this edited interview by PPRA member Kellsey Turner. Photo courtesy of Molly Given.

What’s your favorite story that you’ve worked on?
That’s a tough question! I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I have ones that stand out. I did a story for the Penn Museum for their Global Guides program recently. The program featured in-depth tours of the recently opened Africa, Mexico/Central America and re-vamped Middle East galleries led by immigrants and refugees from the respective areas. I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the guides and what they said was truly touching.

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What advice would you give PR professionals looking to pitch you?
I would say to be clear with what the pitch is about right up front. I will be more likely to write about a story if I have a clear picture of exactly what it is. It’s definitely great to be detailed, but after you give the essential information. Also pitches that have pictures, or that offer to have you come out to check out the facility or event really help paint a picture as well.

Who/what inspired you to pursue journalism and what keeps you inspired?
I really just love the idea of getting to interview people and finding out their thoughts/feelings/desires and fears even. Everyone has a story to tell, and I love being able to tell them. That’s what continues to motivate and inspire me with journalism.

Take us through your story process. What elements do you look for?
I look for stories that are unique, but also ones that are informative. I don’t exactly look for the ‘juiciest scoop,’ but I do want to be someone who can shine a light on interesting circumstances and people.

Where do you start?
I typically start out writing stories with the facts that I have and then dive deep and research more. If there is an opportunity to learn more about a particular subject through interviews or seeing something first-hand as well, I’ll definitely jump on that opportunity.

How do you work with PR professionals?
I work with PR professionals mainly over email, but if I have developed a working relationship with them then we connect over the phone typically as well. But it’s always fun to meet in person too and get to know the PR professional behind the email.

How many pitches do you get a day from PR folks?
It ranges, but can be anywhere from 20-30. Sometimes more.

How much follow up is too much on a pitch—with someone you don’t have a relationship with, and someone you do?
With someone I don’t have a relationship with, I would say one more follow-up. Personally speaking, if I’m not hooked to the story after one follow-up, I don’t think I will be at that point, unless something changes. That actually is the same for someone I do have a relationship with as well.

How do you prefer to be pitched? What is the best way to make a pitch stand out?
Emails work. Also, I’m really just looking for an interesting story; so, if there is something interesting about whatever you are pitching, make sure to really sell that. Passion comes across on a page!

How do you step away from the 24-hour news cycle?
Typically, I do decompress for an hour or so after work. I put my phone down and just avoid technology. You need to step away. No one can be tuned in all the time; it’s good to take a break.

What’s a fun and interesting fact about yourself?
I grew up in Atlantic City and worked as a beach lifeguard for about ten years. That job was the second-best I’ve ever had, just behind this one.

What’s your favorite spot to think through a story?
In the sun—I love to be outside! The fresh air and Vitamin D always spark creativity for me.

The best way to pitch Molly is via email: molly.given@metro.us

Introducing College Possible Philadelphia – PPRA’s Non-Profit Partner

Photo via College Possible

Every year since 2009, PPRA has selected an annual PRoactive partner. This partner organization is a local nonprofit whose mission aligns with the values of PPRA. We are pleased to introduce this year’s PRoactive partner: College Possible Philadelphia.

Meet members of the College Possible team and learn more about their mission at PPRA’s 75th Anniversary Jubilee on Thursday, January 16th. Donations to support College Possible Philadelphia will be accepted at the event. See below for more information on recommended donations.

No photo description available.What does College Possible Philadelphia do?
College Possible Philadelphia focuses on one of the most important issues in the Greater Philadelphia region- education. The nonprofit organization works with high school students from low-income backgrounds in six Philadelphia and Delaware County schools to guide them to and through college, starting in their junior year of high school. This includes an intensive curriculum of coaching and support through which students attend school-based sessions focused on SAT prep, college and scholarship applications, academic, social, and professional skill development, and more. Coaching continues through to college graduation and provides ongoing financial aid consulting, guidance for on-campus resources, and general support for students as they progress through school.

  • 90 percent of College Possible Philadelphia students are first generation college students.
  • 80 percent are students of color.
  • The average family income of students served is less than $28,000.
  • 96 percent of College Possible Philadelphia students earn admission to college.
  • Students served by College Possible are 4X more likely to earn a degree.

Why did PPRA choose College Possible Philadelphia as this year’s PRoactive partner?
2020 is a monumental year for College Possible Philadelphia as it celebrates its first class of students who joined the program in high school who are on track to graduate college in May. Given that PPRA is an organization that emphasizes the importance of a success pipeline for students from college to career, we thought a PRoactive partnership with College Possible Philadelphia would be a natural fit. We are excited to work with them throughout our 2019-2020 programming year.

How can you help College Possible Philadelphia?
College Possible Philadelphia has asked PPRA to help with raising awareness about their efforts and success.

As a non-profit, College Possible Philadelphia also depends on the generosity of people like you. Please consider donating today: CollegePossible.org/ForPhilly.

The students served also often need supplies – whether its notebooks, pencils, and folders for their current classes, dorm kits as they prepare to head off to college, or snack items, water, and juice for SAT snack bags for SAT practice exams and Real Deal. We will be collecting these types of materials at PPRA events all year long but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to arrange a collection drive in your office or schedule a pickup or drop off of supplies.