Ever wondered the best way to approach a particular journalist? Trying to find out when is the best time to pitch stories or catch up with them over lunch? What are their pet peeves or passions in life?
We recently held an interactive session between journalists at Digital Life, in-house consultants as well as agency consultants to answer some of these burning questions. Digital Life (more commonly known as DL locally) is a weekly technology supplement that is published and distributed every Wednesday with Singapore’s leading national daily newspaper, The Straits Times, which works on a subscription-based model.
The LEWIS PR team organised the session with the support of the DL team and Oo Gin Lee, Digital Life’s Editor, kicked off the event with his personal list of Do’s and Don’ts which was both educational and entertaining, amusing the crowd with his anecdotes. It was followed up by a Q&A panel discussion where he was joined on stage by the other four members of DL: Sherwin Loh, Trevor Tan, Seow Tein Hee and Tan Chong Yaw.
Some key learning points from the session:
- Be mindful of deadlines: Journalists will turn around better stories if they have the time to understand and contextualise your story. Give them the time to come back to you with questions.
- Be prepared to pitch the story: Make sure to have all the information with you when calling a journalist.
- Don’t be a postman: Don’t just spam journalists with press releases, craft a pitch and sell them the story.
- Sell the story: Don’t hard sell the message; try to understand what the reporter is specifically looking for to make it a newsworthy story.
- Read the publication regularly: Columns disappear, sections are added, trending stories change all the time. Keep up to date or you’ll be old news.
- Know who to pitch to: Have a story which falls into a specific product category/theme? Find out who are the journalists that take care of your space.
- Build long-term relationships: Working within a specific field? (e.g. tech) Start building relationships with the journalists in your space. Chances are that these are the journalists that you will still be pitching to 5 years from now.
It was a tremendous learning opportunity for the practitioners who did not come from a technology background, as well as clients who attended the event. They were given a deep insight to the decision-making process behind what goes into the paper and what doesn’t. It was also a fantastic opportunity to network with other practitioners within the industry. For newer practitioners, it was a great chance to introduce themselves to the writers at Digital Life and get to know them face-to-face.
We received positive feedback from the attendees as well as the team at DL that the event was unique, as never done before, and that people were looking forward to joining more sessions in the future. So watch this space for the next!
By Aaron Wilfred