Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) hosted their Annual Media Roundtable luncheon on Wednesday, October 29 at the American Chemical Society. Moderated by News Generation’s own Susan Matthews Apgood, a sold-out room full of public relations and communications professionals got to hear from D.C. area reporters on topics like pitching preferences, building mutually beneficial relationships and scheduling.

Panelists included:

  • Kavitha Cardoza, Special Correspondent, WAMU Radio – @KavithaCardoza
  • Lauren Dunn, Senior Producer, NBC4 – @LDYogi
  • Amy Harder, Energy Reporter, The Wall Street Journal@AmyAHarder
  • Erica Martinson, Energy & Environment Reporter, POLITICO@EricaMartinson
  • Meghan McCarthy, Managing Editor, The Morning Consult – @MeghanMcCarthy_
  • Kate Sheppard, Senior Reporter and Environment & Energy Editor, The Huffington Post@Kate_Sheppard
  • Neely Tucker, Staff Writer for The Washington Post Magazine@NeelyTucker

The reporters collectively emphasized the importance of public relations professionals establishing personal relationships with them. They offered tips like:

  • Be a reliable source with interesting stories
  • Build a relationship of trust, make it a two-way street and share things off the record
  • Ask to meet briefly for coffee and bring an expert/additional source along
  • Maintain a good track record
  • Prove that you have something in common with reporters
  • Show reporters why they should respect your work

JenniferDunn_TweetAll of the panelists also emphasized their dynamic daily schedules. “Things can change on a dime,” said Kavitha Cardoza. “No day is ever the same,” added Amy Harder. Trying to catch up with reporters can be difficult, gaining their attention and sparking their interest, even harder. As a huge objective in PR is pitching, the panelists answered burning questions about what they like to see in pitches. They shared valuable preferences including:

  • Make sure you have all the elements present in your story (5 W’s and H) and outside sources available for them to interview
  • Be concise
  • Provide a new angle
  • Narrative-based “people stories” are valuable
  • Know the ins and outs of your story and what makes it newsworthy
  • Include interactive elements in your emails like links where reporters can find out more info
  • Bullet points make pitches easy to read
  • Generally stay away from pitching via social media
  • Don’t attach press releases to email, paste them right at the bottom of the email itself

“Think of yourself as a reporter pitching your editor,” said Meghan McCarthy. “Prove your story’s worth.”

DanielleVeiraTweetWhile reporter preferences may always differ, attendees definitely left with some clarification and direction on best practices to employ.

Stay tuned…