In this month’s WitzEnd Podcast, we spoke with Stephen Hardy of Lightwave and BTR. We chatted about the challenges and opportunities of working in the age of multimedia.
Reporters now have increased workloads as they wear many hats. While us PR folks have to figure out a way to get a piece of their very much stretched thin schedules. It’s a complicated task made all the more difficult by the variety of news happening every day in the tech sector.
Here are the biggest takeaways from our conversation with Stephen. If any of them peak your interest be sure to listen to the whole interview and podcast at the bottom of the page.
Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up, It’s Your Job
The biggest takeaway we had during our conversation with Stephen was that tech reporters are very busy. Stephen specifically runs two websites on top of attending trade shows and shooting weekly videos. Suffice to say, he is one busy guy who might not always be able to respond to your pitch immediately. That’s why he recommends that you don’t feel bad about a follow-up phone call if he hasn’t responded to your last few emails.
“Basically, if I have not responded it probably means I’m up to my eyeballs in alligators. [So] I can understand why a phone call makes sense if you have not heard back from me in a few weeks,” said Stephen during our chat.
New Media, New Pitching Opportunities
New media is rapidly changing the way reporters work. Stephen started his career because it gave him a chance to put his thoughts down on paper. Yet, he now finds himself spending a majority of his day speaking. He reports that the rise of different forms of media has drastically changed his job over the last few years.
“I got into the writing business because I have trouble talking and now I spend 3/4ths of my job talking into a video camera, into a tape recorder for a podcast, or into a phone while I’m doing a webcast,” added Stephen.
While new media is changing reporter’s jobs, it may also be helpful to getting PR for your clients. Stephen recommends reaching out for opportunities that are not just in written form. Specifically, he says he does not get many pitches for video interviews or webcast. That means the next time you can pitch a reporter for new media opportunity you can get an edge for your client.
Editorial Calendars: The PR Crystal Ball
In the age of online media it’s easy to forget the importance of an editorial calendar – or the fact that they exist.
Most magazines have them and they provide a great resource for tailoring pitches; many websites have them as well. For example, both of Stephen’s websites have editorial calendars that lay out the year’s expected content (including for that new media we mentioned). He says that pitches that leverage upcoming topics are more likely to be seen and responded to. Just be sure to give him some advance notice before sharing pitches.
“People who have seen an editorial calendar and therefore know that I have interest in a particular topic should contact me in advance to help out,” continued Stephen.
Press Releases Are Made to Be Seen
Perhaps the biggest surprise from our conversation with Stephen was the fact that he finds many email pitches for coverage of a client’s announcement don’t include the announcement. Instead he finds many email pitches these days only include links to the announcement. While perhaps a good way to measure engagement, Stephen warns that failure to copy-and-paste a release into your pitch (or at least attaching it to your email) is a surefire way to get your email deleted.
“Give me the press release. Don’t make me chase it. I just don’t have time,” reported Stephen.
Bottom Line: Respect a Journalist’s Time
During our conversations with reporters, a defining theme has been that they are all busy people. The people in the media are becoming busier as newsrooms get smaller and editors start to wear different hats. That means it’s key for PR people to do everything they can to not waste a reporter’s time. As Stephen says, reporters are “up to their eyeballs in alligators,” so if you want to get coverage you should do all that you can to make their job a little easier.
If you would like to hear our complete interview with Stephen be sure to listen to our podcast below. Also, be sure to check out iTunes for a full listing of WitzEnd podcasts.