3 rules when pitching a story

By: Hope Salyer

clearly-label

Source: Janet Murray

Public relations specialists have to keep up with the latest trends and news going on around the world in order to better serve their clients. They also have to stay current on the latest trends in the PR industry.

One big trend in the PR field that has been going around recently is the importance of knowing how to pitch a story to journalists. This has always been a struggle, but with the ever-growing social media platforms, journalists are now sharing the mistakes that PR practitioners often make when trying to pitch a story. Here are three rules to follow to help you pitch your next story to a reporter:

  1. Know the reporter and his or her target audience.

As PR specialists, we are always told the importance of knowing our target audience. We think about who we are writing a story to, what language we should use for that audience, and even what pictures to include that the target audience would find helpful. We oftentimes are so focused on our own target audience, that we don’t think about the target audience of the reporter we are pitching.

When sending a pitch email or tweet to a reporter on your upcoming story, be sure to do some research on what topics that reporter covers. You don’t want to send a pitch about Kanex’s new GoPlay Series of portable gaming controllers to a reporter who covers the beauty industry. You have to know what that reporter is going to want to cover, and what is going to benefit him or her as much as it will you and your client, otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time.

  1. Know whether your story is actually newsworthy.

PR practitioners spend so much time trying to help build a client’s visibility that they can sometimes get caught up in seeing their client in the news. You have to keep in mind whether your story or pitch is actually newsworthy. Not everything that your client does is going to be important. It might seem that way in the moment, but PR practitioners have to be able to decide what matters to reporters and what doesn’t.

If you are constantly sending pitch emails to the same reporter, he or she is going to get sick of seeing your name in his or her inbox. You have to focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship between you, the PR practitioner, and the reporter.

  1. Know how to send a pitch.
tim-soulo

Screenshot by Hope Salyer

Numerous journalists have been posting photos online of pitch emails from PR specialists. The reporters are unable to tell what is being sent by a PR practitioner, and what is a spam email. Pitch emails that follow the spam format are oftentimes deleted within seconds of opening them because journalists don’t know what email is going to help them cover a story and what email is going to give them a virus.

Pitch emails that begin by saying they saw a link post from the reporter and have a similar story at this link are suspicious to journalists before they even begin to read the email. Try to keep from linking out too much in emails. One link to the story is fine, but you don’t need to link to the reporter’s story from last week.

These are my top three tips for pitching a story, but I want to know what yours are as well. Leave a comment below on what your “Golden Rules” are for pitching a client story to a reporter.

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

PRSSA Regional Conference in April! Learn more here!

There will be a PRSSA Regional Conference on April 7 through April 9 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University are hosting the conference, “Generation Grand: Experience PR in GR.” According to the event’s website, guests will hear about a variety of topics, including corporate responsibility, green thinking, place and space making, keeping talent in the Midwest, maintaining a creative community, and much more.

The conference’s schedule and registration details can be found here.

Last day to turn in dues Feb. 14!

If you haven’t turned in dues yet, the last day is February 14! You can turn in dues to any E-Board member or to Jamie Ward in the English Department (located on the 6th floor of Pray- Harrold).

Dues are $65 cash or you can make a check out to EMU PRSSA.

The power of the Tube

By: Jordan Ross

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Source: Deli Agency

At this point in time, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of YouTube. It has become one of the go-to places to find videos on the internet. Whatever it is you are looking for, from educational lectures to something that will make you laugh until you cry, YouTube has it. In terms of public relations, it can also be a great tool to help your organization get a message across to a large amount of people.

According to YouTube Press statistics, as of 2016, YouTube has over a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the internet. People watch hundreds of millions of hours on the site and generate billions of views every day. While YouTube does offer a paid version of the site in YouTube Red that eliminates advertisements, YouTube is free for anyone with internet access.

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Source: Lisa Jahred

As a free site, YouTube has made it really easy for anyone to view what is on their site. The site has also made it easy for anyone to upload their own videos so that billions of others are able to view them. YouTube has allowed for people to get creative with the platform and there are a variety of different production methods for videos.

From companies that upload big-budget commercials that air on TV to their YouTube page, to people who upload shaky cam footage from their phone, there are great gems that can be found no matter how they are created. This can be a great platform for any organization to use, because no matter what your budget is, it allows you to create content that reaches a vast audience and use creativity to have the message resonate with the audience.

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Source: Furkids

The Furkids Animal Rescue shelter headquartered in Atlanta, GA is a prime example of this. Furkids “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that operates the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter in the Southeast for rescued cats.” Their mission “is to rescue homeless animals, provide them with the best medical care and a nurturing environment, while working to find them a forever home.”

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Source: Furkids

Furkids has been a member of YouTube since July 2012. The videos they typically upload to their page are of the animals that they have in their shelter. Looking over the videos that they have uploaded in the past, the organization has used YouTube as a platform to connect with people and to provide a new loving home to the animals. The average number of views that a Furkids video uploads on YouTube receives is typically around 1,000. On a site with over a billion users, that’s not the most, but Furkids has remained consistent with uploading videos to the page.

The videos Furkids usually uploads are just filmed off of a regular phone camera, and as a nonprofit, the organization doesn’t have the most money to spend on its video production. As mentioned before, YouTube allows creativity to shine through regardless of budget, and in December 2016, Furkids was able to use that creativity to create a video that gained a lot more attention on YouTube than they ever have before.

man-and-cat

Source: boredpanda

On December 23, 2016, Furkids released a 3-minute commercial on its YouTube page highlighting the shelter’s efforts, although it wasn’t your average commercial. The video was shot in about 30 minutes and edited in about an hour, and definitely was not your typical high-budget affair. In fact, it was very low budget. What the video lacked in production value was made up for in authenticity, and you could tell that this was a genuine message that was aimed at helping the organization accomplish its mission of helping those rescued animals (some of which made cameo appearances in the commercial).

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Source: WDEF

As of January 12, the video has gained over 4.5 million views on YouTube. That doesn’t even count the millions of views that it has received on Facebook and Twitter. What was originally a low-budget video, turned out to be a large success for Furkids. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money. They just used creativity, and genuine love and care for what they were doing was seen in their efforts. As a result, Furkids was able to reach millions of people and increase awareness for their cause dramatically.

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Source: WKRN

For an organization, this should be a lesson that it’s not just about the amount of money that you spend. There are more important things than that. It also goes to show how effectively YouTube can be as a tool to reach an audience of potentially over a billion people for a very low price if you’re creative enough. If you’re able to create a message that resonates with people and aren’t afraid to think outside the box, then you could really have a winning combination on your hands. Furkids certainly does, and 4.5 million people and counting may also agree with that.

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss.

Identity PR agency tour canceled

Our Identity PR agency tour that was originally scheduled for Feb. 10 has been canceled due to construction in the building. Please check our website regularly for updates.

Identity PR agency tour Feb. 10!

Join EMU PRSSA for an agency tour at Identity PR on Friday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon. Identity is an award-winning integrated public relations firm driving strategic communications programs for a diverse portfolio of clients in Detroit, the state of Michigan and across the United States. Identity builds and deploys strategies that educate, create awareness, drive credibility and engage audiences—elevating company leaders to industry icons; transforming unknown organizations to household names; and opening uncharted markets to entirely new categories.

A carpool will be available, with a $5 gas contribution, departing from the EMU Student Center at 8:30 a.m. Please register accordingly.

*Paid members only. For more information, please contact Chapter Vice President of Professional Development Jordan Ross at jross40@emich.edu.

Please sign up using our Eventbrite. For more information about Identity PR, click here!

The struggle with recruiting

By: Nikki Mikolon

the-struggle-with-recruiting

Photo created by Nikki Mikolon using Canva

Every organization focuses on recruiting whether it’s a school or sorority. All groups want more people to join their membership to be able to share their experiences with others. These organizations want to scream to the sky why they are the best fit for each individual.

Recently, our PRSSA Chapter attended the Winter Festival for organizations on Eastern Michigan University’s campus to recruit new members of the student body. Students, new and current, come to the event to check out the two hundred and one organizations at EMU.

Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapters all over the nation struggle with recruiting new members, especially small Chapters like EMU’s. How does one convince a college student that joining a “professional development” organization is more beneficial than just for his or her resume?

The national site for PRSSA does list some ways to help with recruiting new members, but here are some reasons why joining PRSSA changed my college experience:

1. Adventure

Joining PRSSA with EMU and other Chapters across the country gives students the opportunity to explore their studies, the PR field, and even the world! Since joining PRSSA, I have been able to visit more than half a dozen pubic relations firms and other agencies. I have also been able to travel to the National Conference in Indianapolis and other members have traveled to Texas and Alabama with PRSSA.

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EMU PRSSA at National Conference 2016

2. Skill builder.

As a member of PRSSA, I have had the pleasure to be on the executive board in a couple of different positions. These positions have given me endless opportunities to benefit from. Through these positions, I now have experience with blog writing, working with other professionals in the field, and even event planning. This organization has also given me the opportunity to speak at the National Conference and give a professional presentation in front of many other members in the society.

Being part of the PRSSA Bateman Competition is also a great “resume” builder. Bateman gives members like myself a chance to put together, and most importantly, execute a PR campaign for the chosen client.

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EMU PRSSA at National Conference 2016

3. Lifelong connections.

One of the most important benefits one receives from joining a “professional development” organization like PRSSA is the lasting relationships fostered along the way. Being a commuter, it is hard to “fit in” or find a place at a university. It is human nature to want to be a part of something, and being in PRSSA, myself and other members have found their place with people aspiring to the same goals. Not only have I found lifelong friends through PRSSA, but I have also made professional connections that I would not have without this organization.

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EMU PRSSA at Wiard’s social outing

The moral of the story is, just because an organization is meant to be professional, doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun or comes without its perks. Thank you to the society for all the opportunities to prosper and thank you to the friends made along the way that made my experiences even better.

Nikki Mikolon is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. As a Detroit native, she hopes to spend her beginning years working for the city and being a part of its renaissance. Connect with Nikki on Twitter @nikkimikolon.