What I learned at the Student Development Conference

By: Tyler C. Jones

Editor’s note: This blog is part of a series of guest posts from social media students at Eastern Michigan University. Follow the conversations at #LRNSMPR and @ginaluttrell.

sdc

Source: EMU PRSSA Facebook

Who knew a pitch would be just as important as a press release, and in some cases more important? After attending the Student Development Conference and hearing the key note speaker Melissa Foster discuss pitches vs. press releases, I was completely shocked.

Melissa shared a great deal of useful information about public relations, media relations, and how to prepare for the real world once we graduate. Within the PR program at Eastern, we focus heavily on press releases, how to craft one, who to send it to, and when to send it. As for pitches, the focus is not as high.

Of course, we have discussed pitches in class, but I’ve written plenty of press releases and not one pitch. Melissa shared with us that in most cases, press releases are packed with too much information, and the person who is reading the press release has limited time. A strong pitch that is packed with the five W’s (who, what, when, where and why) will get more attention than a press release loaded with unnecessary information.

Bullet points work well when crafting a pitch. Sure, you can include a link to your press release, but summarizing your pitch in a few bullet points will entice the journalist into reading more. You don’t want to give everything away.

Here are a few tips you should consider when crafting a pitch:

  1. Make sure the person will be available to read the pitch.

You don’t want to pitch a story to someone if they are on vacation or out of the office sick. Know if that person will be available to read your pitch.

  1. Know the newsroom.

It is important to know the newsroom and know who controls what. Go visit a newsroom, meet the people there, and learn how it operates. This will make it 10 times easier when trying to pitch a story because you will know exactly who to pitch and the best time to do it.

  1. Stalk whoever you are pitching on social media.

Social media is a great tool to use to get to know someone prior to meeting them. It is important to know who you are pitching and what type of stories they cover. Learn something about that person and bring it up in conversation. This will help you to better connect with them.

  1. Know the news.

As PR professionals, it is extremely important to stay on top of current events and know what is happening around us. We need to make sure we are in the now. This will keep us on our toes and aid us in being the best PR practitioners in the field.

Tyler C. Jones is a guest blogger.

 

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