Broadcast media panel offers tips on getting your story aired

By Michael Kleiner
View from 52nd floor Pyramid Club, site of PPRA Meeting of Broadcast Media Tips

With technology continually changing the way we access news and how news organizations gather it, learning pitching tips for public relations pros never gets old. More than 80 Philadelphia Public Relations Association members agreed, and attended Broadcast Media Panel Offers Tips for Getting Your Stories on the Air on Feb 17 from the Pyramid Club’s 52nd floor perch overlooking the city. (Considering PPRA unveiled its new logo with the Philadelphia skyline in the back, the view was apropos.).

The panelists included four from TV: Iris Delgado, Anchor/Reporter for Telemundo62; Jodi Harris, Planning Manager/Producer Fox29; Stephen McKenzie, Managing Editor of CBS3 Eyewitness News, and Tim Walton, Producer Programming Department  FYIPhilly WPVI6, and two from radio: Paul Kurtz, Reporter at KYW Newsradio 1060, and Eugene Sonn, Audio News Director WHYY-FM. Susan Buehler of Buehler Media and Chief Communications Officer for PJM Interconnection, which coordinates electricity supply to 13 states, brought some of that energy to moderating the discussion. She did an excellent job of balancing the questions the audience would have for the media members and what they needed to tell us, and injecting humor along the way. Sometimes, these sessions can devolve into “pet peeves journalists have about PR people” and we feel like we’re being scolded. That wasn’t the case here.

Based on my and other tweets, here’s a summary of what the panel shared. McKenzie emphasized that a story must fit multiple platforms. “I have to decide what I think our viewers care about, and it has to fit on the air, on the Web, and on social, three platforms. It must have compelling video.”

The best times to pitch varied depending on when the station’s editorial planning meetings were scheduled during the day, and in the case of Delgado, who anchors a 5 p.m. newscast, “please don’t call me 15 minutes before I go on the air.” Good times to talk to her are between 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. before the 3 p.m. meeting. She will follow-up around 10 p.m. as she plans the stories for the next day.

MacKenize said between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., while Harris said, “pretty much anytime. I always have my phone. For bigger stories on lighter topics, contact me a few weeks in advance.”

Sonn echoed reporters’ complaints for generations: “It’s annoying when someone is pitching and has never seen the show, and the story doesn’t fit.” He added, “Around 2 p.m. is a good time to call. Think about times of the week that might be slow and you might have better luck with your pitch.  The story has to fit into 45 seconds.”

Kurtz said he prefers to be contacted by e-mail first, followed by a tweet through direct messaging, but the successful pitch can come down to luck and opportunity. ” It’s all about timing,” he said. “If you have an expert, who can speak on a current topic that’s helpful. Try to get ideas to us.”

For TV, Harris says, “The person has to be good on TV. Sometimes, we’ll look for an expert who we haven’t talked to before.”

Delgado said there’s a misconception about Spanish media. “Telemundo 62 covers what is in the English media in Spanish,” she said. “A Hispanic angle is important.

“Whatever the emotional, human angle may be, your pitch might be the best backup plan when another story falls through,” she added.

Walton, who works at FYIPhilly, says their demands are different. “We’re not a news show so there’s more open times to pitch,” he said. At the same time, he is currently accepting summer pitches.

They all chorused when Buehler said, “Keep it simple and brief: Headline, one paragraph. You need to have thick skin and keep trying if your first e-mail doesn’t get a response.”

The use of the Internet – should we be pitching web editors, too — and social media drew some interesting responses.

“Web Editors are not doing copy, they’re posting info,” said Harris.

Kurtz said the web has enabled them to do more with their stories. “While you may get a short amount of time on the radio, we put more copy on the Web and create podcasts, which are archived.  I covered the protests at the Democratic National Convention on Facebook live, the first time I used it.”

“Social media has broadened our audience beyond Greater Philadelphia,” said Sonn. “If you have a pitch with an expert who has a good social media following, mention it.”

Michael Kleiner is a principal at Michael Kleiner Public Relations Consulting & Web Design. This post originally appeared in the firm’s blog.


“Live Pitching”at PPRA Event Yields a Media Placement


Amanda White, of Philabundance, saw her “live pitch” at a recent PPRA media panel turn into a CBS3 spot for her organization.

By Amanda White

On Feb. 17, PPRA hosted a Broadcast Media Panel Luncheon at the Pyramid Club, which ultimately led to a high-profile opportunity for me. If you were unable to attend, PPRA member, Kate Kanaby, did an excellent job sharing a recap and a few takeaways from the event. In her blog, Kate briefly mentioned the “Live Pitching” portion of the luncheon—AKA my favorite part!

As a PPRA member, not only do you have the opportunity to attend networking events that help build and maintain relationships with reporters, you often have the opportunity to “live pitch” media your story ideas.

As PR Associate for Philabundance, the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief organization—aiming to drive hunger from its communities today to ultimately end hunger forever—it’s my job to raise as much awareness as possible for the nonprofit organization.

After hearing from each media professional on the panel about what stories he/she is interested in, I knew I had to tell the panelists, specifically CBS3, about Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK). PCK is Philabundance’s adult culinary vocational program, which has produced over four million meals for the hungry while simultaneously helping 700 graduates enter the workforce since 2000! (Impressive, right?)

Although I was (a little) nervous to speak in front of an entire room of PPRA members and media professionals I had never worked with before, I knew this was both a rare, and exciting opportunity.

As a result of the :30 second pitch, CBS3 Eyewitness News Managing Editor, Stephen McKenzie, said, “This sounds great. Let’s connect and get {CBS3 reporter} Vittoria in the kitchen with the students for a story.” And sure enough, we did just that.

On March 7, CBS3 Reporter, Vittoria Woodill, visited our community kitchen, where she interviewed a student, a graduate of the program and staff. Check out the full story here.

If I wasn’t a PPRA member, attended the media luncheon AND live pitched, who knows if Vittoria would have done a story on PCK?

Thanks, PPRA, for the continuous opportunities you provide your members! Those who were unable to attend the luncheon can check out the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #PPRAProgram. And learn more about PCK here.

Amanda White is PR Associate at Philabundance


Infographic: How to Pitch Broadcast Media

By Melissa Maycott

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon program hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association. The program, “Broadcast Media Panel Offers Tips for Getting Your Stories on the Air,” featured some of the Philadelphia-region’s most notable radio and television news personalities:

Amid a crowd of roughly 75 of my PR peers (some familiar faces and some I’d just met), I listened intently as the panelists shared their personal experiences interacting with PR professionals pleading to get their story on the air and offered tips on how to make that happen.

Below, and in a printable version,  this infographic contains my key takeaways from the event.

Remember, every #PRFail – and believe me, I’ve had plenty throughout my almost decade-long career — can be  a learning experience to help you grow in your practice. The key is recognizing when you’ve made a mistake, how you could have approached the situation better and putting that insight to good use as you pick up the phone to pitch your next big story.


Melissa Maycott is Media Relations Manager at Tonic Life Communications


#PPRAMemberMonday: Michael Cavacini


PPRA Member since 2007

PPRA: Michael, tell us about your background and your current job.

MC: I graduated with honors from Temple University with a B.A. in Strategic and Organizational Communications and an M.S. in Communication Management. I’ve worked for some of the top communications agencies in the region, including Brownstein Group and Tierney. And I’m currently a Public Relations Specialist for Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, one of the largest law firms in the country.

PPRA: What projects are you working on right now? 

MC: As a Public Relations Specialist for Drinker Biddle, I lead media relations efforts for more than 635 attorneys across the firm’s 12 offices. I’m also in charge of Drinker Biddle’s social media content, and I assist with various internal and external marketing and communications initiatives. 

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

MC: Whether I’m editing an article, writing content for social media or drafting a pitch to send to a reporter, I’m always focused on how I can help the firm and our attorneys effectively and efficiently communicate key messaging. What I enjoy most is when my team and our lawyers recognize this commitment to excellence and thank me for helping them accomplish their goals. There’s nothing more gratifying than that.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment?

MC: My proudest accomplishment, so far, happened in 2014 while working for Brownstein Group. My work, along with my colleagues’, was recognized by the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Philadelphia Chapter with three first-place awards in one night. Even better, the client we did the work for was sitting right next to us when we won these back-to-back-to-back first-place awards. PRSA recently sent me these awards, and I proudly display them on my desk alongside my accolades from the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

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

MC: Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or talk to someone in person. Many of us rely too much on email. I’ve gotten great media opportunities simply by calling a reporter first. I’ve also gotten better and faster feedback from supervisors by talking to them in-person, rather than through email.

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

MC: Last year I read 50 books, including two by my favorite author: Harlan Coben. My favorite book of his, which I’d love to read again, is Six Years. I also love the French film adaptation of his excellent thriller Tell No One. I’ve watched it numerous times, and I highly recommend it.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

MC: My favorite spot in Philly is Spruce Street Harbor Park. It’s where my fiancée and I spent part of our first date, and it’s where we got engaged. It’s a beautiful, vibrant part of the city that’s reflective of the resurgence Philadelphia has been experiencing, and I believe it’s a harbinger of great things to come. It’s an exciting time to live in Philadelphia.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

MC: My favorite cheesesteak is from Jim’s on South Street and I take it with Cheese Wiz and nothing else. I haven’t had one in a while, but they’re fantastic.

#PPRAProgram Recap: Broadcast Media Panel Offers Tips for Getting Your Stories on the Air

By Kate Kanaby

On Friday, Feb. 17, six familiar faces in broadcast media came together to discuss the shifting media landscape with a room full of PR pros.  Moderated by Susan Buehler, Chief Communications Officer of PJM Interconnection, the panel included:

We talked tips for getting stories on air, PR pet peeves, and even saw some brave colleagues “live pitch” the panelists. Here are a few takeaways from our most recent #PPRAProgram:

  • Producers and reporters get hundreds of pitch emails each day – make yours cut through the clutter. Your pitch must be timely, relevant, and as always, a catchy subject line is key. Jodi Harris stressed follow ups if you don’t hear back from her, but Iris Delgado had one request: “Don’t call me 15 minutes before air time.”
  •  Know the outlet’s audience, and make your story relevant to them. Steve McKenzie reminded us that when he’s reading pitches, he’s asking himself, “Will my viewers care about this?” Meanwhile, Eugene Sonn admitted he’s received his fair share of pitches and thought, “Have they ever even listened to our program?” Don’t be that 
  • Sometimes your pitch ends up being the best backup plan, and that’s okay. Iris Delgado noted that stories can fall through all the time, but the show must go on, regardless. Make yourself an available resource, and take advantage of those opportunities that present themselves. 
  • Think about how your story can live on social media. Each panelist agreed that social media has changed the way they do their jobs. Paul Kurtz recalled using Facebook Live to stream protests at the Democratic National Convention in July. So, if you have a story that will do well on Facebook, or an expert with a sizeble Twitter following, that’s a huge plus.

Overall, the event was full of worthwhile insights and tips that we’ll definitely be applying to our future pitches.  Big thanks to everyone who attended – especially our media panelists. We can’t wait for the next #PPRAProgram!



Kate Kanaby is an assistant account executive at Brownstone Public Relations