On November 13, PRSA’s National Capital Chapter hosted a panel of five multimedia journalists at NPR’s new headquarters in Washington, D.C. The panelists included:
- Scott Hensley, digital health correspondent for NPR
- Jayne O’Donnell, healthcare reporter for USA Today
- Noam Levey, national healthcare reporter for the Los Angeles Times
- Greg Otto, assistant managing editor of digital for the Washington Business Journal
- James Politi, U.S. economics and trade correspondent for the Financial Times
- Understand the proliferation of digital devices in news consumption: More than ever audiences are consuming their news on a mobile device or tablet, with traffic to news organizations from mobile doubling over the past year. NPR’s Scott Hensley says that putting together great journalism that is competitive on the web is of utmost importance.
- Present stories that have a shelf life: Noam Levey from the Los Angeles Times emphasized the importance of working on stories that are going to have a long “shelf life.” While breaking stories are critical for news organizations to cover, it is also important for reporters to work on stories that are going to have traffic for more than just a couple of hours. They are interested in unique and in-depth stories that no one else is working on.
- Give reporters additional elements with the news release: A common theme the panelists stressed is the importance of sending them more than just a press release. One suggestion was to offer raw data. Charts are fine if raw data isn’t available, but reporters are likely going to have to re-create them anyway before they will utilize them. Also, offer multimedia elements, video, and photographs, when possible. Reporters are frequently expected to have an online package with their stories, so it is helpful to show them the full scope of content available. When asked what quality of video is acceptable to send, a few simply pulled out their iPhones. We live in a time where good video can be taken and even edited right on your smart phone, but do always try your best to be cognizant of composition, lighting and audio.
- Follow the news and be malleable: Being able to offer a topical expert at a time when news breaks can help set you apart in a reporter’s cramped inbox or voicemail. If you are able to offer information to a reporter with whom you already have a relationship following a news event, you could open the door for a mutually beneficial situation. Invite a reporter to coffee with you and one of your best experts – allow them to establish an organic, trusting relationship.
As PR professionals, it is important for us to understand that reporters are genuinely very busy. We know the feeling well. There’s great demand on them for content in a short amount of time, so if we can do our best to make it easy for them by keeping up with the times, being flexible and adapting to current trends, we will ensure the best outcome possible for our clients.