Eric Hill, president and cofounder of MyMediaInfo, a service of RedEgg Solutions, talks to Erica Morris about perfecting a media relations strategy.
PRWeek: What preferences do journalists have in how they would like to be contacted, and does that preference vary by outlet type?
Eric Hill: The preferred method of contact varies from journalist to journalist. However, in recent years, we have seen a fundamental shift in preferences to electronic communication over traditional mail or fax. And in the past 12 months, we see that the shift includes Twitter, instant messaging, and posting on blogs. However, these preferences, to a large extent, depend on how well a PR pro knows the journalists. Sometimes direct messaging through a social network like Twitter or LinkedIn could be considered intrusive.
Another notable point is that the media type may also determine preferences – a case in point is bloggers who prefer contacting via blog or Twitter.
PRWeek: Have you noticed any changes to editorial calendars?
Hill: Editorial calendars have always been a great way for a publicist to understand the focus of a magazine or a newspaper. As advertising spend in print publications has decreased we have seen a shift to more encompassing terms for editorial calendars. With that said, many trades are still focusing on the core points respective to that vertical.
PRWeek: What areas have seen the most movement as far as journalists switching jobs, and is there a geographic connection?
Hill: The one constant in journalism is change. [Our research suggests] on average, each journalist in the US will change his or her own beat, focus, info, or position three to four times a year. The person covering local crime today could be writing lifestyles tomorrow.
Over the years, the change was always greatest at the local or regional level with the weekly newspapers, smaller television and radio markets. A number of the smaller news outlets employ recent college graduates with lower paying positions. These graduates would work for a time and either follow their passion and move up or out of their organization or leave journalism altogether. However, in the past 24 months, we are now seeing the same sort of change at all levels within the media. The traditional media has contracted and the number of employment opportunities has decreased. And, we find [in our research] that the average journalist in the US now has two jobs. There are more freelancers than before and of course, social media has created a new medium of reporting the news.
PRWeek: Should bloggers be approached differently than someone reporting for a print publication?
Hill: Mostly, the approach is the same. However, one must understand the mind of a non-traditional or citizen journalist – they tend to write out of their passion and without strict editorial guidelines. A blogger is likely to look into your pitch provided it relates to them and adds value to their blog. Bloggers also do not have deadlines, though their ability to publish is quicker than their traditional media counterparts.
PRWeek: What trends are you seeing concerning pitching to local vs. national news outlets?
Hill: The digitization of the traditional media has transformed local media into global media. Search engines will pick up on hits from local newspapers, transcripts, and other media thus creating a global audience. The local media can also be a starting point or an incubator for stories, good and bad. A publicist needs to keep an ear to these pubs since we are no longing working in a vacuum.