By: Melissa Smuzynski
About nine years into my career as a television reporter, a big milestone happened in my personal life: I got married. During the months leading up to our wedding, my future husband and I planned out every small, painstaking detail. Creating the guest list was one of the hardest steps for us in the process. Together, we whittled down the list, marking off those with whom we weren’t really close until finally we had a solid guest list consisting of 100 of our closest friends and family. I’m telling you this story to make a point. On that list of close friends, and sitting in the pew the day my husband and I said “I Do”, were three PR people whom I met while working as a journalist.
You are probably already aware that public relations specialists often build a strong rapport with reporters. They work closely together to craft stories that both PR clients and news audiences will view as valuable. They understand and respect each other’s jobs and often speak very candidly about them. And occasionally, after working together for years, they get to know each other on a personal level.
Three Reasons Reporters Love PR Pros
1: Knowledge: Public relations professionals not only know what reporters need to tell a good story, they know what they want! Sure, a reporter can tell a story with one interview from a company spokesperson, but they also want an interview with customers or employees. They want someone who can personalize the story for their audience. And good PR professionals deliver. This is partially about controlling the media exposure for your client, but a good PR rep will find the right person to personalize the story. They will find someone who will be a good ambassador for the brand or company, and prep them before a media interview. A good PR pro will provide a fact sheet about the company, product, or brand to ensure the story will be accurate, even if the reporter has a tight deadline. Then, they’ll hand all the elements over to the reporter for an easy one-stop-shopping story. It makes the reporter’s job easier and they will love you for it!
Epic Helicopters received great coverage by local station WFAA-TV.
2: Speak their Language: MOS, VOSOT, package, live shot, B-roll, IFB, nats, rendering, crunch time, outcue, soundbite, byline, timecode, making slot; if all of those words and letters seem like a foreign language to you, chances are you don’t speak “Reporter”. Reporters have their own language. They have words that are industry specific, and if a journalist has been in the business for even a small amount of time, that language becomes second nature to them. Many public relations professionals have backgrounds in journalism, and therefore can speak that same language. It builds trust, respect, and instantly they know you understand their job and the demands that come with it.
3: Help in a crunch: At one point or another, as a PR pro, you’ve probably saved a reporter’s butt. You’ve saved them from being chastised or berated by an overbearing boss. You’ve saved them from missing a deadline or walking into an editorial meeting without having a unique story to pitch. Reporters are constantly looking for stories. When reporters develop a good relationship with a public relations specialist, they will eventually start calling on them. Especially on those slower news days when there isn’t much going on. Whether it’s a holiday or just a quiet day for news, reporters still have to fill their allotted space in a newspaper or TV news broadcast. And that’s when they call their friends in PR, and like the hero you are, you save their butts and give them a great story about a client!
Let this be a lesson as well, pitch a story that can run on a holiday, and you’ll improve your chances of getting it covered… and who knows, you may receive an invitation to a reporter’s wedding.