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If You Wouldn’t Click On It, We Won’t Either… Seattle Media Shares Tips for Getting the Attention of the Press

By Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Manager

Earlier this month, six journalists from a variety of Seattle media outlets joined Business Wire for a media speed-dating session. The session allowed attendees the opportunity to engage in small group discussions with journalists and learn more about how the media works; current challenges facing the industry; how journalists like to be pitched; and other useful information about interacting with the press.

Dispensing knowledge from the journalist side was Taylor Soper (Reporter at Geekwire.com), Emily Parkhurst (Editor in Chief of The Puget Sound Business Journal), Rachel Lerman (Reporter for The Seattle Times), Michelle Li (Reporter for KING5), Lauren Foster (Managing Editor of 425 Magazine, 425 Business, and South Sound Magazine), and Anika Anand (Co-Founder of new media venture, The Evergrey). The event was moderated by Bryan Cohen, Owner/Partner of Colehour+Cohen.

From L to R ... Rachel Lerman, Emily Parkhurst, Lauren Foster, Anika Anand, Michelle Li, Bryan Cohen, Taylor Soper, Matt Allinson

Over 70 attendees gathered for the event and all took away many useful tips from these journalists over the course of an hour. Here are some that stand out:

  • Make sure the news/information you are sending to the press is compelling or interesting. “If you wouldn’t click on it, we won’t either,” said Emily Parkhurst.
  • Keep it Simple … When it comes to press releases, all Rachel Lerman wants is the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, and why). Keep it straightforward and full of useful information.
  • Details matter … Taylor Soper looks at the area codes in email signatures. If you’re pitching local, it helps to have a local area code.
  • If you’re sending a reporter an email, give them a subject line that lets the reporter know you’re a human being and load the first sentence or two with as much pertinent information as possible. Emily Parkhurst has 20,000 emails in her inbox. Yours better stand out.
  • Michelle Li says to never forget the morning news programs. Since local stations generally air four to five hours of news in the morning, “You get more bang for your buck since your story is likely to be repeated four or five times,” she said. She also noted that morning news is the only time segment where viewership grows as the broadcast proceeds.
  • Don’t make us find multimedia,” pleaded Lauren Foster. “Include headshots/photos and do your homework before you actually make a pitch.”
  • Look for potential partnerships with new media. Anika Anand says The Evergrey wants to drive subscriber growth and are currently partnering with Brooks Running as part of a referral incentive program. It’s tough out there for new media outlets, so creative partnerships are possible. 

Lauren Foster speaks to attendees at Busines Wire's March 1 media event

  • Don’t get frustrated if you don’t hear back from a journalist right away. All the journalists acknowledged that due to smaller staffs and greater demands, they are busier than ever. It’s always okay to follow up if you don’t hear back, but do so with the understanding that the journalist is probably being pulled in a thousand different directions.
  • Don’t forget your #hashtags … Michelle Li actively pays attention to hashtags on Twitter to find stories (#seattle #pacnw #washington). She also sources the majority of stories herself or via pitches.