Thanks to our friends at Highwire PR for hosting a media panel on storytelling tips for PR professionals. Panelists included tech reporting veterans Michael Liedtke from the Associated Press, Harry McCracken from Fast Company, Steve Nellis from Reuters and newcomer Sarah Kuranda from The Information.
All good PR pros know they must tailor pitches to suit each reporter’s audience. Here are some specifics on how to win with these publications:
- Associated Press — The target audience includes your aunt Sarah who lives in the Midwest and doesn’t know that much about technology. This outlet is basically at the point where it doesn’t cover enterprise tech any more. Focus on stories with broad impact on average American consumers. Facebook and Uber are among the most important companies the AP will cover. If you’re not one of these two companies, consumer apps and gadgets have strong appeal.
- Fast Company — The focus here are stories that no one else will have, so shift away from breaking news into the story behind the story. (Example: Starbucks Brews A Tech-Infused Future, With Help From Microsoft: When the biggest name in coffee sought to use tech to make its stores both more human and more efficient, it found a partner in another Seattle institution.) Also, avoid the pile-on method for pitching targets. Once McCracken has posted a story on a particular topic like augmented reality, he’s highly unlikely to post a second story on the same topic in the next year.
- Reuters — As an international wire service with headquarters outside the U.S., Reuters is looking for breaking news exclusives and/or stories with international appeal. Avoid flagging competing publications’ scoops that Reuters missed, but apply the pile-on tactic here — if there’s breaking news for which you have an expert source, offer commentary for follow-up stories.
- The Information — Since this is a subscription-based publication that favors long-form, investigative journalism, play the long game by offering introductions to expert sources. It’s unlikely a story will result in the near term, but your source could be tapped in the future. Kuranda is looking for people that are super smart or who have unique, first-hand experiences to share, such as someone who was directly impacted by the #metoo movement.
As always, keep pitches short, and indicate clearly why each of the above outlets’ unique audiences should care about what you’re offering. Finally, think about what success looks like for the reporter; regardless the topic or news, a good story is a good story is a good story, and they’re looking for the stories that will go viral across other news outlets and in readers’ social feeds.