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Media leaders offer tips about pitching stories

When businesses talk jobs, the media listen. That was the take-away from “Buzz on a Budget:  Building Your Brand Through Earned Media Coverage,” a SUCCESStrategies program presented by the Alliance and title sponsor Dixon Hughes.

Five of the region’s top media executives shared advice on how to build relationships with the press and successfully pitch stories about your company.

Here’s a few of their insider tips for getting in the news:

  • Jobs, jobs, jobs.  Connect your story to jobs, and the media take notice
  • Tie your story to a national, state or regional trend
  • Reframe your story so it’s more about the community and less about your individual business
  • Be judicious about press conferences and media events. Due to technology, reporters are less likely to attend and cover events in person.
  • Competition for coverage picks up during the week; you have a better chance pitching your story early in the week
  • Radio news is brief and immediate.  A two-three minute newscast features five to six stories under 30 seconds. Understand these constraints when approaching radio reporters.
  • Pitch your stories via email. If you don’t hear back, it’s ok to follow-up with a phone call.
  • Keep initial pitches to one page. If the press needs more information, they’ll ask for it.
  • Have realistic expectations.  Many outlets get 100-200 news releases/day.   
  • Use social media to push your story. WSAZ-TV gets up to 30 percent of its story ideas from Twitter.
  • West Virginia Executive, a quarterly magazine, is interested in success stories and features about the economic impact of business news.
  • Competition among Charleston media outlets exists and there is no holding news in today’s 24-hour news cycles.
  • Advertising is what you buy. PR is what you earn. If you want to have total control over the content of the message, when it appears and the audience it reaches, buy an ad.

If you have a business story you’d like to pitch to one of the media roundtable panelists, you’re welcome to email them directly but – don’t forget – you’ll have a greater chance of success if you follow the guidelines above.

Anna Baxter, WSAZ-TV, news@wsaz.com

Kensie Hamilton, West Virginia Executive, kmh@wvexecutive.com

George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail, business@dailymail.com

Larry McKay, Bristol Broadcasting, chasnews@bristolbroadcasting.com

The next SUCCESStategies, “Reducing Your Business Tax Burden,” will be held Wednesday, May 11, noon-1:15 p.m. in the Alliance Large Conference Room.

“Through SUCCESStrategies,” we roll up our sleeves and get in-depth with specific information you need to succeed in business. We hope you’ll join us for our next event,” said Rick Slater of Title Sponsor Dixon Hughes.

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