Pitching stories, 'spidering,' and more

The benefits of pitching stories after the first release, the legalities of 'spidering,' and more

The benefits of pitching stories after the first release, the legalities of 'spidering,' and more


How long can you continue to pitch the same broadcast content?

There are tremendous opportunities for pitching after the initial feed, says Laura Pair of News Broadcast Network. "Unless the story is so limited in scope that it can only live and die in one day, then there are lots of reasons to pitch after the fact," she adds.

As the news cycle progresses, a story angle can be reworked and different story hooks can be developed in order to meet the news of the day.

"For example, a client may have done a recent survey on spending/buying habits," she says. "A week later, that story can be revisited and pitched to markets to coincide with economic announcements from the government or a major retailer."

Pathfire, the digital media source for ABC and CNN affiliates, helps keep stories in front of news producers for weeks, Pair adds.

"Send alerts out twice weekly to notify stations of what's available on Pathfire," she says. "This helps feature and evergreen stories immensely."

Even hard-copy placements can be made before and after the feeds.

"Feeds are a great distribution method, but the story isn't necessarily dead just because the client has used up his two or three feeds," says Pair. "Pitching is an art, and getting the story in front of the right people at the right time is everything."


I've heard about "spidering" the internet. What does this really mean and is it legal?

Spidering (or webcrawling) is an automated process that fetches web pages from the internet, retrieves new links from within those web pages, and typically stores those web pages in a database, explains Nancy Sells of PR Newswire.

The most common spidering practice is for internet search engines like Google and Yahoo, which hold billions of web pages in their databases. In fact, Sells says that some websites prefer their sites to be spidered by search engines and other companies, as this can promote their offerings to millions of users.

But Sells cautions that legal issues exist, which have less to do with spidering and more to do with the usage of the stored web pages that may be copyrighted.

"People looking to spider a site may want to refer to its terms and conditions, as well as check to see if the site has a 'robots' file which can contain information on where spiders may or may not go on the website," she says.


What is the best way to measure and track competitors?

It is important for any PR pro to remember that you need to monitor your direct competitors, as well as your company brand, lines, spokespeople, potential competitors, and even the entire industry, says Cindy Sullivan of Cymfony.

"Before you can measure and track competitors, you should first begin to gather intelligence on them," she adds.

Corporate websites are always a great resource to gather information on a company and its brands, Sullivan says. Blogs, message boards, and online discussion groups are also playing an increasingly key role in offering valuable competitor information.

Once you have gathered all this information, you need a way to filter, measure, and analyze what is being said.

"Using a firm that specializes in these services will often provide a real-time, effective, and time-efficient solution to help find and analyze what is being said about a company and its competitors," Sullivan says.


I recently read that it is important to have a spokesperson in the studio for radio media tours. Is that true?

For radio media tours, most organizations use teleconferencing companies with digital phone lines, says Lynn Harris Medcalf of News Generation.

"These companies have the ability to boost levels and mix the audio for broadcast use," she adds.

So, there's no need for a spokesperson to travel away from the comfort of his or her own home or office.

"Radio is a convenient medium to communicate a message," Medcalf says. "By using a high-quality digital phone line, you can get the same quality audio that you would get in a studio."

PR Toolbox is edited by Erica Iacono, New York-based reporter for PRWeek. Submit questions to her at toolbox@prweek.commailto:toolbox@prweek.com">toolbox@prweek.com>. Also, please contact her if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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