On Thursday, November 5th, the NewsGen team hosted a Town Hall Luncheon, where we focused the discussion on media pitching during a presidential election cycle. The attendees included a mixed group of communicators and reporters from three local stations, WAMU’s Matt Bush, WNEW’s Jim MacKay and 94.7 Fresh FM’s Jen Richer. We focused the discussion on four topics: Key Issues of the Election Cycle, “How to” Pitch during an Election Year, Pitching Local, and Building Coalitions.
When it came to ‘Key Issues of the Election Cycle,’ one of the main points was the importance of being aware of legislation up for debate in Congress and then pitching around those issues. While issues in the election can often seem large-scale, another point brought up was to focus on humanizing each issue, and showing how it is pertinent to the listeners we are trying to reach.
Bush, MacKay and Richer represented radio stations with different formats, and their answers to the questions we posed were all varied. Living in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, we often work around large-scale national issues. When pitching those types of issues, both MacKay and Bush stressed the importance of localizing a national issue and showing how it would impact their listeners and why they should care about it. For The Tommy Show, which Richer co-hosts and produces, she emphasized the importance of just being a person. For them, it doesn’t matter what your title may be or what credentials you may have – just be a local person, who other local people can relate to, and explain in layman’s terms your issue.
When asked about the best pitch he had received, three items stood out for Bush: an intriguing subject line, a clear angle on the story and a strong local connection. MacKay echoed Bush’s comment, and also stressed the importance of understanding the format of the radio station that you are pitching. For example, noting whether a station has talk shows before mentioning that an interview may be of interest for one of its talk shows. Richer emphasized the importance of knowing a station’s audience. For example, her show targets women driving to work or dropping their kids at school, so the pitch should be targeted towards that market. Sending the same exact pitch to every station you’re reaching out to can be extremely ineffective.
Overall, our event resulted in a lively and engaging discussion, and we look forward to continuing to explore the topics that were discussed.