9 valuable tips when pitching to the media

According to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Labor last year, PR professionals outnumber reporters 4.6 to 1. It’s more important than ever before to do your research and craft a concise pitch that will be of interest to the reporter and their readers.

During our March Meet the Media event, we sat down with a few journalists to hear their tips on what PR pros should think about when crafting a pitch.

  1. “Find a local angle, and ask, ‘why would you care?’”
  2. “Know what you want to pitch, and to whom you are pitching.”
  3. “Cut to the chase.”
  4. “Don’t forget to follow up a week out, a day out and the day of the event/news; otherwise it might get lost in the inbox.”
  5. “Know your reporter’s beat.”
  6. “Send to the group email (e.g., news@outlet.com); it’s the best way ensure that someone will see your email.”
  7. “Be prepared when you pitch – you’re the expert.”
  8. “Know the outlet’s deadline and editorial calendar.”
  9. “If you get your story picked up, make the most of it (e.g., share it on Twitter). It will make it much easier to pitch a story the next time.”

You’ve most likely heard most of them before, but they serve a great reminder, saving time and effort for both PR pros and our journalist friends.

A big thank you to all the media participants: Diana Willsie and Dan Boers (WOOD TV 8); Marty Primeau (Grand Rapids Magazine); Leigh Ann Towne, Andrea Shaner and Amanda Stevenson (FOX 17); Anya Zentmeyer (Rapid Growth); Claire Fodell (Newsradio WOOD 1300); Jennifer Pascua and Peter Ross (WZZM TV 13); Shandra Martinez (MLive Media Group); Amy Charles (West Michigan Woman); Josh Depenbrok (GRNow.com); Hilary Farrell (WGVU Radio); Tim Gortsema and Chris Ehrlich (Grand Rapids Business Journal); Rich Tupica (REVUE Magazine); and Molly Rizor (REVUE Magazine).

Don’t miss April’s hot event, The Art of Executive Communications and Speechwriting, to hear from industry experts on writing for executives, from the boardroom to the White House and everywhere in between. [April 16, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Eve Lounge at The B.O.B.]

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Why Do PR Pros Seek APR?

By Tim Penning, PhD, APR

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) established the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) program more than 50 years ago, in 1964. Since then, thousands of PR professionals have worked to earn the designation as a mark of superior PR skills, knowledge and ethical practice.

However, not all practitioners seek the APR credential. In fact, PRSA noticed the percentage of practitioners who are accredited has gone down in recent years. So the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) has encouraged academics to look into the reasons why professionals do and do not make the effort to earn the APR mark of distinction.

Hence, my latest research research with my co-author Dr. Kaye Sweetser of San Diego State University. “Role Enactment, Employer Type, and Pursuit of APR” was just published in the journal Public Relations Review. The journal article is available here. Or, since the journal article is an abbreviated version, you can email me for a full copy.

Or you can just read on here for a summary!

First, a quick explanation of the key terms and variables in the study. “Role enactment” is an academic term that describes the specific role that PR practitioners enact in their jobs. Prior research has boiled these roles down to two: a “technician” is more of an entry-level role focused on tactics; a “manager” may still work on tactics but is more focused on strategy and advising organizational management and making communication decisions vs merely implementing them.

“Employer type” has to do with the fact that PR professionals may work for a corporation, but they could also work in many other contexts. Vast numbers of PR professionals work in non-profits, government agencies, educational institutions, the military, or public relations firms.

We were curious to see if the context in which a practitioner works, or their years of experience or level of authority/status in the organization, were factors in whether or not and why they sought the APR credential.

Results showed that employer type and practitioner role did make a difference. The practical take-aways:

  • Respondents pursued APR mostly for personal satisfaction or to be a better practitioner.
  • Seeking the APR to get a promotion was correlated with younger practitioners.
  • Those in PR for many years were more likely to pursue APR for higher salary than those who transfer in from other fields (who may seek APR for knowledge and legitimacy in their new field).
  • Pursuing APR to gain respect from clients/employer was more common for those in agency, nonprofit, or government/military.
  • Those in a manager role were more likely to pursue APR for higher salary, while those in a technician role were more likely to pursue APR for a job promotion or when seeking a new job.
  • A somewhat counter-intuitive result was that men are significantly more likely than women to be motivated by respect from an employer or client.

This research extended previous studies about the differences between those PR practitioners with and without APR. The UAB may use the results to tailor their promotion of the APR program differently to practitioners, based on their gender, specific role, years of experience, and the type of organization in which they work.

Tim Penning, PhD, APR, is an associate professor and associate director of the School of Communications at Grand Valley State University, where he teaches in the Advertising and Public Relations major. He is a past president of the West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA). He also blogs about public relations on his own blog,GRPR. Follow him on Twitter @penningink

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Mlive story on WMPRSA PR for Good client

Here is a great article by Shandra Martinez from Mlive.com about our PR for Good client, the Women’s Resource Center and their Pillar Awards.

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WMPRSA Event: Meet the Media Round 1

Meet the Media: Round 1 – March 19, 2015
WMPRSA’s “Meet the Media” event has always been one of our most highly attended programs. We will welcome the return of our popular “speed pitching” format.

Throughout the program, participants will meet one-on-one with members of the media during timed speed pitching sessions. For a few minutes, you will have the undivided attention of news directors, editors and reporters from local television and radio stations, daily, weekly and monthly publications and online outlets.

These three-minute meetings go fast – so, be prepared, plan your story pitches and maximize your time.

Arrive early to book those coveted appointments. The appointment sign-up sheets will be available at 11 a.m. In the coming weeks, WMPRSA will publish the list of expected media in future event notices and on our Facebook page, Twitter and website

Click here to register

Event Details

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Eve Lounge in The B.O.B.

4th Floor

20 Monroe Ave NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

11 AM – Registration/Lunch (vegetarian/vegan option available)

11:30 AM – 1 PM – Speed Pitching

Member $25.00
Non-Member $35.00
Student $20.00

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National PRSA Board Member to Speak in Lansing March 18

Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR, of the PRSA National Board of Directors, is scheduled to speak on the evolving role of the public relations professional at an event for the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors March 18 in Lansing. She is also Director of Digital and Social Media Communications at Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis. Click here to register. The presentation begins at 9 a.m. and costs $40 for non-members of the Association of Realtors.

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Help WMPRSA- Take this short survey!

Hello members!
We are conducting research for a local nonprofit. Please help us by answering this nine-question survey that will take less than 3 minutes to complete! Thank you in advance for your participation.
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Job Openings: Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce is currently hiring for multiple positions. Job descriptions are below and the application deadline is Thursday, February 19.

Part-time Communications & Social Media Specialist

Supports marketing communications efforts by assuming responsibility for a range of projects involving internal and external communications and social media, including producing business and advertising copy for Chamber publications, press releases and web content as well as actively building social media engagement. Strong researching, interviewing, writing, editing, and proofing skills required. Please read full job description for more details and requirements. Send resume and samples of work to:

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Attn: Latricia Trice
111 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 

Part-time Digital & Graphic Designer

Supports marketing communications efforts by assuming responsibility for a range of projects involving creative digital and graphic design, including producing high quality designs for print and digital marketing collateral for Chamber events, programs and advertising campaigns as well as digital banners and ads for social media pages and quick-shoot multimedia videos using self-edit applications such as Final Cut Pro, iMovie, etc. Position also requires strong knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite (5.5 InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator) and working knowledge of web content management systems (CMS) with basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript as well as additional skills. Pleaseread full job description for more details and requirements. Send resume and samples of work to:

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Attn: Latricia Trice
111 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503  

Membership Sales Manager

Responsible for selling Chamber membership to prospective non-member businesses as well as orientating new members to the Chamber community. Requires a person highly motivated by goals and incentives who will utilize a proven relationship sales process to attain such goals. Looking for someone with an energetic, upbeat and friendly personality who possesses the confidence and energy to engage in prospecting activity. Must be able to  build strong relationships with prospects and Chamber members using excellent communication skills over the telephone and in person. Pleaseread full job description for more details and requirements. Send cover letter, salary requirements and resume to:

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Attn: Job Posting
111 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids MI 49503

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