On April 19, 2012, at Carmine’s in downtown Washington, D.C., we hosted a luncheon with PR professionals, media enthusiasts, and top ranking radio producers for a panel discussion, “Secrets to Pitching Radio in an Election Season.”

The event began with introductions from News Generation co-founder, Lynn Medcalf. Panelists were Greg Peppers of the Associated Press, Bill Rehkopf of WNEW-FM, Mark Segraves of WTOP, and Jen Richer of Fresh-FM, and each gave a brief overview of the stations target audience. Each reporter made the point that radio, particularly in D.C. is growing, while other media like television and newspapers are declining. Growing so much that CBS invested in an all new news station, WNEW, that launched earlier this year.

Unlike some of the other stations, Fresh-FM’s Jen Richer noted, “[our audience is] women 25-54 seeking infotainment, something to take to the water cooler.”  One of the biggest frustrations for producers is receiving pitches that are irrelevant to their target audience or format. WTOP’s Mark Segraves said, “It’s a real disservice and waste of time for all. If you send me something about health and beauty, clearly you aren’t sensitive to my beat, and I will not respond well.”

Social media was ofcourse discussed at the event. Not only were audience members tweeting using #radiopitch, but the questions were pouring in about how radio producers are using social media. WNEW’s Bill Rehkopf replied, “We are social. It’s part of our jobs. Twitter, Facebook, what’s trending.  It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and when I get off the air.”

In terms of political themes, most producers noted that there needs to be a tie-in with D.C., Greg Peppers, of the Associated Press, said “It needs to go beyond dry legislation. What’s going to grab the audience? Anniversaries can get the creative juices flowing.”
Mark Segraves agreed, “Make it local, and make it urgent.”

Mark Segraves left the audience with a three tips to pitching busy producers:

  1. Subject line is key. Make it clear why he should care and why the story is relevant. (When the news of the day was about Ann Romney never having a real job, the subject should say “Talk to Expert on Real Working Moms.”)
  2. Don’t send press release as an attachment. Paste it into the body of the email.
  3. An important phrase in the newsroom is “connecting the dots.” If the pitch is about gas prices, then connect it to local prices.

The panel of experts gave the audience fantastic tips on how to get stories out there, how to connect it with a local audience, and how to form relationships with station managers.  With all the new tools out there, it is still about the relationships PR people build with reporters, no matter what the platform.

We thank everyone for coming out to the event and making it such a success!  To see photos of the event, please visit our Facebookpage.


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