PR pros recently gathered at Washington Women in Public Relations’ annual Media Roundtable. Moderated by Hager Sharp’s Lisa Matthews, the panel featured Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast’s Washington Correspondent; Laura Helmuth, the Washington Post’s Health, Science & Environment Editor; Michelle Remillard, Executive Producer of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal; Melinda Woolbright, Planning Editor, NBC4; and Fay Sliger, Vox Media’s Senior Director of Communications. The discussion focused on the role social media plays in journalism, the most effective way to pitch members of the media, and how to build relationships with reporters.
Matthews opened the discussion by asking each panelist how they start their day. For Woolbright, her day starts the night before. “I’m constantly on my phone. There’s no place I don’t look for information. I’m always trying to look ahead.” Helmuth echoed Woolbright’s thoughts, “In the mornings, I check all the European Twitter accounts to see what happened overnight. If there’s something we need to cover, we redistribute our effort.” Continuing the conversation about social media, Remillard said she uses Twitter as information source.
When it comes to how they would like to receive pitches, the journalists all agreed that they prefer email. “I don’t get many phone calls any and I almost never respond to a press release,” Clift said. Clift also said it’s important to always update your media list to be sure you are pitching the correct people. For Woolbright, if something in a pitch doesn’t work for her, she will often forward it to their digital team. Remillard says, “Timing is everything when pitching. It’s important to do your homework when pitching guests.” Helmuth said she likes an informative tone in pitches and prefers when they are short and to point.
Finally, when asked how to continue building relationships, the panelists all agreed that email was best way to do so. Overall, it was an informative and lively discussion with helpful insight from the panel!