October 31, 2011

How to pitch to the media: an inside view from Global TV

About two weeks ago, I had an extremely exciting opportunity to spend the day with a journalist. I’m sure many of you have heard of him, as he has a segment on Global TV as a consumer reporter. Sean O’Shea let me tag along for a day while he reported on the iPhone 4S launch. (You can follow him on Twitter).

I also got to meet a lot of great PR practitioners, including a few from Apple. I want to share some of the things I learned that day, because as exciting as it was to hang out at the Global TV studio, it was great for me to get an inside look at how the media perceives people in our field.

One of the main things I learned about was pitching to the media. Here are a few things to consider:

1)    Do not pitch between the hours of 3 and 6. This is the time when journalists are getting their stories together and finishing up last minute ideas. If I learned one thing on Friday, it was to NEVER pitch during this time. Ever.

2)    Let them know what you can offer visually. Be specific. Where can they set up their cameras? What is the easiest way to get there? Will you be providing the location or will they have to set something up?

3)    Find out what their preference is for communication. Some people prefer getting pitches over email, and some prefer over the phone. It seemed to me that the trend was to email the younger journalists and phone the more senior ones.

4)Make sure they are relevant! When sending out mass emails for a pitch, make sure you do not send them to people who will not find it relevant. For example, Sean is a consumer reporter. If someone sends him a pitch that has to do with sports, he will delete the email, and will likely never open up another email from that person. It is not relevant to what he does.

This was a PR pitch Sean received while I was there from a pest control company. Their theme was something along the lines of “Goblins and ghouls won’t be the only thing visiting your house this Halloween… pests will be too!” 

Follow up calls
I also talked to a few different reporters about follow-up phone calls for pitches. Some say that they don’t mind if PR practitioners call to check up on the status of a pitch, but some HATE it. It’s a grey area, but perhaps asking around before you make the phone call is a good idea.

I LOVED spending the day at Global, and would do it again in a heartbeat. I learned a lot about how stories come together, what the Apple corporate culture is like. Most importantly, though I learned how to pitch to the media. A great deal of what I heard overlapped with what I have been learning in class, so PR students: take everything you learn seriously!

October 29, 2011

Feeling a little homesick?

During the first two weeks of living away from home, I was golden. Orientation Week was going on the first week I arrived, and Frosh Week the second. I was so busy meeting new people and betting my groundings that I didn’t really notice just how far away from my life I was. It wasn’t until things started to die down that it hit me: I was homesick. It’s a weird feeling being away from everything you’ve known for the last 20 years, but I found ways to get around it.

If you are moving out for the first time, whether it is in the same province or halfway across the country, you will probably find that at times you will be a little (or a lot) homesick. Here are my tips:

· Bring lots of pictures!

The majority of decorations in my dorm are pictures. I think I printed off a total of 87 pictures before I left Calgary and I have put every single one of them up.

· Get Skype.

Not all of us can afford a long distance plan, so utilize Skype! It’s a great tool. I love that I can see my friends and family that I’ve been missing. It lets you show off your brand new room to your friends and family (that you have decorated profusely with pictures of them).

· Invest in some stamps.

I know, I know. Writing letters is something of the past and Canada Post takes forever to send them and email is easier and why write letters when you can Skype? Phew. All of this may be true, but I love opening my mailbox and seeing that I received a letter from someone. I write letters to my Grandma and Aunt as another way to keep in touch.

· Bring, or buy, some other decorations to put around your dorm.

(My Batman poster was the best investment I have made since I got here. Other than my education.)

Dorms look like, well, dorms. My room has concrete and brick walls that look anything but homey, but I have put up posters, calendars, and a cute bed spread and pillows so that my room looks less like a residence. You will eventually have to accept the fact that this is your home for the next eight months so you might as well make it look nice!

· Keep yourself busy.

This point is key. You will be busy with school, but find extracurricular activities, make friends, go out! The busier you are, the less you will be thinking about home, and the more you will enjoy yourself, and your new home.

What other things have you incorporated into your dorm so that it looks less dorm-y?